Do you have gaps in employment, or lack relevant experience? Here’s how to turn these issues into positives:
Anyone who has written a CV has probably had to overcome a number of challenges – whether they be lack of work experience, gaps in employment or explaining a short stint that didn’t work out.
Facing these issues when writing your CV does not mean you’re not a worthy employee, it just means that you must find ways to explain areas that may appear negative to recruiters. If you’re struggling to explain discrepancies on your CV, the following examples will show how you can reflect your experience more positively.
I have gaps on my CV
Mind the gap: don’t let missing work history damage your CV and interview
Many people go through periods of unemployment, it’s perfectly natural. But leaving unexplained gaps on your CV will arouse suspicion with recruiters, so you need to meet the issue head-on and explain it. Whether you have taken time out to travel, taken on a personal project or cared for a loved one – you need to include this information and put a positive spin on it. These activities still involve core workplace skills such as planning, organisation, and communication, which can be included on your CV. If you have taken time out for illness, there’s no need to be ashamed about it; mention it on your CV and show that you’re ready to take on the rigours of work again.
My CV is too long
If your CV is three pages or more, you need to cut it down to hold the attention of hiring managers. Two pages is ideal to sell yourself without boring people. Take a look at some of your older roles and see if you can condense them. Recruiters don’t need to know about a role from 10 years ago in great detail, so a short summary will suffice, leaving you more space to explain your most recent work, which is more important. Also, check your formatting and make sure you are not wasting space with large margins and poorly structured contact details.
I lack direct work experience
If you are an inexperienced candidate such as a recent school leaver, you may lack the work experience your target employers are looking for. To get around this, you need to draw out transferable skills from other areas of your experience and highlight them. For instance, you could use experience from your studies, voluntary work, personal projects or anything else that relates to the jobs you are applying for. If your current role isn’t relevant, then reduce the amount of detail and only include skills that could be used in your new field.
I have done lots of short roles
Nowadays it’s common to have short roles on your CV but it can still be a turn-off for employers if not properly explained. Some recruiters may assume you have been fired or lack commitment. To avoid appearing unreliable or a job-hopper, explain the purpose of each role and what you achieved before moving on. This will show you added value and fulfilled an important purpose for the organisation. If you have done lots of temping or contract roles make that clear so readers do not simply think that you haven’t lasted long in permanent posts.
I want to change career
When you are looking to make a career change, it can be difficult to craft a CV that appeals to your target employers, as often you won’t have the experience they are looking for. With the right preparation and adjustments, however, you can create a CV that sparks interest.
An essential step is to make some form of commitment to your new field and highlight it at the top. This could be enrolling on a vocational course, doing voluntary work or even freelancing. Make it prominent on your CV to show employers that you are serious about your new career aspirations. You will also find that many of the skills used in your current line of work could probably be transferable to your new profession, so ensure you use your existing work experience to sell your cross-industry skills.