Making the most of gaps in your CV
Gaps in your CV and work history can be a real headache, especially for veterans, service leaver and those in the military community. But they are common and once you know how to make the most out of them, you won’t have to worry again. The great thing is that a gap in your CV can end up providing fantastic evidence of something unique you have achieved!
Preparation – Before interview
The best way to avoid being asked about CV gaps is to ensure they don’t exist. No, we don’t mean rewriting history – as you build your CV take time to think about what you have done when you haven’t actually been in “paid”. Many veterans have spent time volunteering during the COVID pandemic for example and this demonstrates the get up and go attitude the military is known for. Have you learnt new skills or gained knowledge through travelling, attending a course, volunteering or a focusing on a hobby? Have you undergone a life-changing experience? What makes you different?
A few examples of what we mean by filling or erasing gaps in your CV:
Everyone who moves house, regularly, as part of military life knows it is a big project getting everything done. Think about what you’ve had to do to make that move successful – working to a deadline, often on your own, being politely assertive, juggling childcare, manage your time effectively etc. Write it up and in a covering letter you can even link to key competencies.
Time and time again we’ve heard military partners say they’ve “only” been bringing up kids in between jobs! Raising a military family is a big job, and plenty of people do this, largely on their own, away from family support – and manage to volunteer too … Macmillan coffee mornings, class reps, or Christmas ball anyone? And remember not everyone has raised a family, so think about the skills you’ve gained during this time. Always remember to have examples ready though – that time you had to negotiate with the manager of the local crèche for an extra hour may just tip you as the best candidate!
On the day – At an interview:
Managers may often question gaps in your CV, as it could have an impact on the way you perform in their company, however, it is not necessarily something to worry about. They may even just be looking for something else interesting to talk to you about! Recruiters are getting more and more flexible regarding CV gaps, as long as you can prove you’ve done something useful and you are the right candidate. The HR manager’s job is to get the best out of you, so if you have done plenty of prior preparation and know what you can bring to the role you should have a solid interview.
If you are a military partner and are directly asked about a CV gap, have stories ready to show how you improved yourself over the time you weren’t in paid employed and be ready to explain skills on your CV and how you developed as a person. Remember to link those experiences to the job vacancy. If you’re prepared, you’ll answer it better, so remember to practice, practice, practice and do your research so you know what the company needs and role requires!
At LifeWorks we focus on the STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioural-based interview questions. This allows you to specify the Situation, Task, Action, and Result of the evidence you’re giving. So… why not get in touch to find out more?! Call us 0800 319 6844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org