Returning to work after any kind of significant absence often seems like a challenge and it can be rather intimidating to have to explain to a potential employer what you have been doing with your time. However, there are many useful and productive ways to spend your days, other than on the employment treadmill, and whether you’ve been building houses in Africa or just spending some time at the University of Life it’s easy to use your experience to turn gaps in your CV into real assets. Here are a few tips on how to do it:
1. Don’t sweat the small gaps. Although it might feel awkward to you, employers and recruiters will rarely bother to ask about a work break under three months long. If this is all the time you took out then there’s really no need to draw attention to it.
2. Shine a positive light. If your leave of absence from the employment market has been as a result of something like redundancy or sickness don’t be ashamed of it, as it happens to us all. You need to state the facts of what happened, to account for the time, but you can also put a positive spin on it too. If you were ill then write a paragraph on anything you learned during that time, how you’re much stronger now and ready to return to a full time job. If it was redundancy then you might want to include information on the constructive ways that you spent your time (see below) and how much more ready you now feel to be employed again.
3. Constructive isn’t always obvious. You might feel like you spent a lot of time feeling frustrated and wasting time whilst you were off but if you look hard at what you did you can find lessons learned and new skills acquired. Whether it was achieving new levels of fitness, honing your CV and understanding what you really want from a job, getting up to date with developments in your sector, acquiring a new skill such as a language or an understanding of html, no activity is ever wasted.
4. Don’t discount unpaid work. Any voluntary work that took place during an employment gap can be enormously beneficial for adding some depth and personality to a CV. Always include voluntary work, whether it was caring for a relative, or working for a charity – briefly list what you learned, the skills you acquired and how these will equip you well for your next step.
5. If you don’t have anything to say then create something now. By this we mean it’s not too late to take on some voluntary work, sign up for a class, or start making use of your time if you are currently not employed. None of this has to cost money so start thinking about what you could do to fill that gap on your CV today – taking action is the first step.
Ascendant Recruitment is an innovative and forward thinking recruiter that has helped numerous candidates get back on the career ladder. If you’d like to speak to one of our team to get some help with your job search see our website for contact details.