How to acknowledge career gaps

There has been a very welcomed increase in the number of returnships available by companies and organisations.  These are designed to act as a bridge back into work for experienced professionals who have taken an extended career break. However, many returners are still apprehensive of how to document their career gap in their CV.  Whether you have taken time out to have a family, be a carer or were recovering from an illness it is important to acknowledge this and not just leave a gap.  I have set out below some tips of how best to do this while also highlighting skills and experience that are likely to be relevant or valuable at interview stage:

  • In your Career Summary section of your CV (before your most recent role) simply write the date your career gap started (month and year is fine) then put down the reason such as Full Time Parent/Carer/Period of ill health.
  • Provide a short explanation such as how many children you have brought up, who you were a carer to or that you were unwell and then write you are actively seeking employment opportunities and are ready to return to work.
  • Remember to acknowledge any volunteering you may have undertaken as you will have gained valuable skills. This could be the PTA at school or Parent council, a community group or assisting with a friend or family business.
  • If you have interesting hobbies then note these down in your CV also as this can make an excellent talking point at interview and also gives the reader an insight into your personality.
  • Make sure you document your IT Skills such as any programs or software you have used as this demonstrates you have kept up to date with recent technology.

Outlining your career gap and offering relevant information is important so you can give the recruiter a true insight into your expertise. Hopefully, you can outline additional skills or experience you have obtained during this time. However, in the event that you cannot highlight anything relevant, it will at least acknowledge the gap and make it clear you are committed to returning to work and ready to take on a new challenge.

Remember, just because you have taken a career gap this does not mean you are not a capable or do not have the skills and experience relevant for the role. You will have a lot to offer whether from your previous work experience or if you have been a parent or carer. Remember you will have obtained skills which are highly relevant such as time management, managing multiple demands (or demanding children) and you have to be highly organised which are all great qualities to offer.

Attitudes are changing to career gaps and I suspect this will continue as workplaces become more modern, have the added benefit of new technology, and flexible working arrangements or locations. 

Be patient and diligent with your job search and the right opportunity will come along (look out for a forthcoming article about a great real life example of someone returning to work after a relatively long career break).

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