When job hunting, it can be difficult to know whether to include a career gap on your CV and LinkedIn profile. Is admitting to a short stint viewed as a disastrous career failure, or could a break be to your credit?
If all signs indicate you made a wrong choice when recently accepting a job offer, there’s no harm in resigning quickly (though it’s always ideal to secure your next job first if possible). Thankfully, with business conditions shifting wildly and frequently over the past few years, employers seem less deterred by candidates’ employment gaps and job hopping than before the pandemic began. How you choose to address your specific situation—if at all—during your job search will make all the difference in how it is perceived by employers.
Before you decide whether or not to include this brief job experience on your CV, consider the following questions:
- Is this the first time you’ve worked at a company for a short period of time, or is this most recent job experience one of many short-lived roles that appear on your CV? If you worked in other positions for brief periods of time, be sure to indicate on your CV if any of them were contract positions.
- If you don’t include this position on your CV, how big of an employment gap will it create between your previous job and now? If the gap is less than a year, you don’t need to add your most recent position to your CV. If omitting this work experience will create a gap of one year or more, include it. It’s also worth noting that if you worked a job for a short while many years ago, there’s no need to remove it from your CV and create an unnecessary gap.
- If you’ve taken a gap due to childcare obligations, or perhaps if there was a time in your child/children’s life they needed additional support from you, make this clear and mention all the soft and transferable skills this type of role brings, including communication, multi-tasking, collaboration and listening.
- How are the dates of your employment currently displayed on your CV? Instead of including the month and year you started and ended a job, try editing it to only include the years and see if it minimises the perceived gaps in your work history. However you decide to format your dates of employment, it’s important to remain consistent throughout your document and to mirror this format on your LinkedIn profile as well.
- What have you been doing since you left your last job? When you land your next interview, the interviewer is likely to ask you a similar question. Consider working on a certification or taking a free online course; offering your services to a friend or family member whose business could use the help; pursuing a skills-based volunteer (SBV) opportunity; or looking for freelance or gig work to help pad your CV and bring in some money. These activities will bolster your CV and give you good fodder for your next job interview.
If you’ve landed the job interview, it’s safe to assume that the employer was not preoccupied with the gap on your CV. That said, you should be prepared to answer questions about why you left your last position and what you’ve been doing with your time since you left.
- If you’re directly asked why you left your employer, be honest. A TopCV study found that lying during an interview is the surest way to get dismissed. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie during the interviewer’s follow-up questions or a background check. However, there’s no reason to go into the details of your departure.
- Keep your explanation brief, stick to the facts, and avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. No matter how things transpired, never gossip about your former employer. No one wants to hire someone who spends their precious interview time complaining about their recent boss and spreading negativity. Whenever possible, try to frame your exit in positive terms.
- Focus on briefly sharing the lessons you learnt from your job experiences and as a parent, and how they’ve shaped both the skills you have to offer and your current job goals (which, wouldn’t you know, align perfectly with the opportunity you’re interviewing for). If you’re truly looking for a company where you can put down roots and further develop, share that sentiment so you’re less likely to be perceived as a costly flight risk.
Amanda Augustine is a careers expert for TopCV.
Deskless workers still dissatisfied at work
Navigating break-ups and divorce as a working dad