How to address a work gap on your CV

A step-by-step guide to creating your CV

Paula S. Katz | April 27, 2015

You took a year off because you applied for a fellowship late and all the slots were taken. A parent was ill and you had to provide support. You spent nine months backpacking.

For whatever reason, if there’s a gap in your employment history, expect that to trip up potential employers unless you handle it upfront. Instead of trying to gloss over it, put it on your CV and explain it clearly and in some detail.

“Don’t leave unexplained gaps,” advises Tommy Bohannon, divisional vice president, Merritt Hawkins, Irving, Texas. “Gaps will raise a red flag, so address them head-on.”

In addition to noting gaps on your CV, also mention them immediately in your cover letter, says Regina Levison, vice president, client development, Jordan Search Consultants, St. Louis. She advises saying, for example, “You’ll notice a gap between 2010 and 2011 and I just want you to know what happened.”

The most important thing is to be honest. “You can say, ‘I’d always dreamed of backpacking and I wanted to do that before I made a commitment to practice full time,’ ” she says.

Short gaps on your CV might not strike up an alarm, but make sure you address longer gaps as quickly and as thoroughly as you can, explains Dotsy Mallone, manager, physician recruitment, Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.

For more information on creating your resume, see: “Put together your curriculum vitae the right way,” “Choosing the right references,” and “Three hot spots on your CV.”

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