Although having a few gaps on your CV is very common, explaining these breaks between past jobs still fills most of us with dread. Even if the weeks, months or years were spent doing something productive like bringing up children, travelling the world or caring for a loved one, talking about these periods in an interview can be a challenge.

The key to overcoming this fear and acing your interview is confidence. The more you believe in your CV and in the value you can bring to your new role, the more convinced your potential employer will be. By being prepared for your interview and putting a little extra work into your CV, you can turn your career gaps into positives and give yourself an excellent chance of bagging your dream job.

Be selective

When you’re putting your CV together, remember that you don’t have to include every job you’ve ever had. Most candidates will just list their most recent or relevant roles and will leave out positions they held five, ten, 15 or even 20 years ago. This may allow you to avoid listing your career gaps in the first place, something that will prevent interviews from asking difficult questions on the day.

Alternative, you could look at the way you list the dates of your previous roles. For example, if your career gaps lasted just a few months, you could consider listing previous jobs by year rather than giving a month as well. This is an acceptable way of listing previous rolls on your CV and will help to gloss over your gaps while keeping your CV honest.

Be honest

If an interviewer does ask about the gaps on your CV, make sure you keep your answers as honest as possible. Interviewers can easily check up on your employment claims and getting caught out in a lie won’t look good to your prospective employer.

Instead of attempting to lie your way out of the situation, keep your answers honest and to the point. Most of the time, people take breaks from work for a good reason, so don’t be afraid to tell your interviewer the reasons behind your time away from the workplace.

However, it’s important that you put a professional spin on anything you did when you were out of the office. For example, if you went travelling, try to tell your employer about the benefits you gained from the trip. If you took time off to care for a loved one, keep your explanation short and to the point and if you were made redundant from a previous job, make it clear that the company you used to work for was forced to make cuts.

Be proactive

Explaining gaps in a CV is a lot easier if you can show you filled your time productively during your career break. If you’re currently out of work and struggling to find a new position, look for opportunities that will allow you to enhance your CV during your time out.

For example, you could volunteer with a local community organisation, sign up for a course to improve your professional skills or attend training events and seminars that are relevant to your chosen career. By being proactive when you’re looking for work, you can show future employers that you have the motivation and the drive necessary to succeed.

Be prepared

If there is a significant gap on your CV, there’s a very good chance your prospective employer is going to ask about it during your interview. The more prepared you are to answer their questions, the better you’ll come across. Try to keep your answers thorough but succinct. After all, the sooner the issue is dealt with, the sooner you can move on to talking about how valuable you could be to their company.

Be positive

 Positivity is infectious, so if you can put a positive spin on your career break, it’s likely to rub off on your interviewer. Try to think about what you got from the weeks, months or years you spent off work. Were you able to spend time learning more about your chosen industry? Did you work to improve your self-confidence? Did you gain valuable skills or was your life-view altered by your experience? If you can show how your time away benefited you, you should be able to show how it’s made you an even better candidate for the job on offer.

Finding a new job, and then securing the role of your dreams, isn’t always easy. If you’d like to find out more about how you can move into the career you’ve always wanted, or if you want to learn more practical interview techniques, contact Atkinson Moss on 01603 319090 or