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Back to Blog June 1, 2018

How do you explain gaps in your retail CV?

So, you’ve finally spotted the dream job. This job is made for you. The brand is one you’ve always admired and wanted to work for. The salary is attractive and it’s just the step-up and level of challenge that your career needs.

Of course, you can expect the competition out there to be pretty fierce. This is why you’ll need to grab the attention of your prospective future employers with a knock-out CV.

The problem is… how do you explain those gaps – even gaping holes – in your retail CV?

You’re not alone

The first thing to be mindful of should reassure you too – gaps in work history are not uncommon in the slightest. Retail is a particularly fast-paced industry. People do take time to travel or to have children. Being made redundant does happen. Therefore, you should remember that, whatever gaps you might have on your CV, there’s is absolutely no way that you will be alone on this.

Indeed, it is something that recruiters come across more and more. Most will take a positive and open mind when they come across a CV with gaps. Travel is the most common explanation of a CV gap. The unwritten rule of good recruiters is that they will simply seek clarification from the candidate – usually in a telephone interview/conversation beforehand – if it is felt that the candidate has the requisite skills and experience for a position.

Always provide a reason for any work history gap

Gaps on a CV aren’t necessarily a bad thing – especially as it is becoming far more common to see people moving between jobs or taking career breaks.

However, whilst you would always hope that recruiters and prospective employers will take a positive view when they see a CV with gaps, you do need to be clear about why you took a break from employment. It is important not to make judgements and to focus on the skills and experience of a candidate. That said, an unexplained gap always runs the risk of being seen as a ‘red flag’.

There is no problem with taking a gap from work, but ignoring the gap this creates on your CV is a bad move. You just need to be clear about why you took the break. Don’t cover the gaps up, make them perfectly visible instead. The reason/s for the gap can usually be explained in the body of the CV itself. Failing that, a covering letter will be just the job too.

Honesty on your CV is vital

Of course, being economical with – or embellishing – the truth should be avoided at all costs. Lying on a CV, such as lengthening the ‘before and after’ jobs to fill in an employment gap could well be grounds for dismissal at a later date, if discovered. You could be questioned about anything you put on your CV. Even if those details are difficult to verify, an unconvincing answer to a question raised about it on interview could tell its own story to a prospective employer.

Instead, make the gaps work for you. By thinking strategically, you can make gaps in your CV stand out for all the right reasons. Training or travelling, whatever it was you were doing will have helped you to develop useful skills. These can certainly impress potential employers.

Of course, there’s a balance to strike. Don’t go overboard but just appreciate that by thinking creatively and positively, you can really make the most of gaps in your CV.

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