Plugging CV gaps

Are you allowing the value of your CV to leak away? Take the following advice and you might be able to plug a few gaps.

1. Explain
Most employers check dates when they go through CVs. They would be suspicious of any break that is unaccounted for. But if you’ve taken a few dodgy detours through life and learning, all is not lost. Employers are looking for an explicit path through education and employment. If this is missing make sure you explain what was happening during that time. Reassure a potential employer that you were gaining knowledge, developing skills and generally making yourself super-efficient.

2. Reflect
Frequently people have very useful experience that employers would love to hear about. But it’s omitted from their CV because they think it’s not relevant to the job they’re applying for. If you’ve taken time out to develop a business idea, been on a three-month retreat or pursued a dream of some kind, explain this in a way that is useful to employers. Think about what your aims for that period were and what you achieved. Even if some life event was forced upon you, or you made a mistake, what did you learn from it? How did it challenge you? All of this is worth putting on your CV. People try to gloss over a gap and make out it’s not there – but you can make an asset out of it.

3. Skew positively
Don’t be afraid of reinterpreting what you’ve done. There’s nothing wrong with positive skewing of attributes. For example, if you’ve been off for a year, you’ve been reflecting. Take care to balance that with some practical experience too, however, otherwise you’ll be seen as a dreamer. If you’ve been bumming around on the beaches down under, clearly you’ve taken the opportunity to develop initiative and team working skills through solo and group travel. As long as your experience shows that you can initiate, be creative and innovative and you’re somebody who has taken control of your own life, it will improve your CV.

4. Demonstrate
You’ve heard it before but hear it again. Some kind of work experience is essential. It doesn’t matter whether it’s paid employment or not. And it doesn’t have to be specific to your career path. You can use voluntary experience to successfully demonstrate that you are a rounded person and that you have practical competencies. It provides a very rich source of experiences that interviewers can draw on. So if you haven’t got any, get it pronto and stick it in your CV.

5. Avoid whoppers
There’s a thin line between making a good impression and telling dark and devious tales. If you set out to deceive, by claiming you have a qualification that you don’t have for example, you could easily be found out. It’s a sackable offence if an organisation finds out you’ve seriously misrepresented yourself. And more and more organisations are hiring groups to check this out.

6. Refresh yourself
Employers love to think that candidates have a balanced life style. They like the idea that at the weekend you can relax and go rock climbing. Then you can appear on Monday morning refreshed rather than exhausted from taking a lot of work home with you. Mentioning your hobbies will add to your CV only if they bring out qualities that appeal to the employers, however. Anything that demonstrates social skills is helpful and the more you can indicate your interest in life the better. Train spotting and stamp collecting are CV no-nos no matter how much you love them.

7. Show passion
Finally, it is important to demonstrate enthusiasm. Use terminology that indicates that you are alive and proactive and have energy. CV phrases should be dynamic. “I would love to,” is better than, “I am prepared to…”. “Enthused by challenges,” is better than, “manages to cope under pressure”. Above all show passion. Make it clear that when you commit to something, you really go for it.

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