Mind the (Employment) Gap
Updated: Jun 21
How do you position your career break when writing your CV? Many women going back to work after having children ask me how to deal with this. Here's how to confidently position your employment gap so that recruiters focus on your value, not your time out
Written by Dr Emma Waltham | Maternity Returners Expert
A question I’m regularly asked is, ‘What do I say in a job application when I have the experience they’re looking for, but it was a while ago?’ Is this something you’re coming up against?
Women often find themselves in this position, because of a career break or taking a job that isn’t a career role, to fit in around the children. They might have an actual employment gap, or a series of roles that haven't provided work experience that's relevant to the type of jobs they want to apply for now.
Showcase your Value
How do you deal with this in your CV or in an application form? Well, the key thing to remember is, if you have the experience they need, even if you gained it a while ago, that’s what you need to be showcasing.
What you mustn’t do is sabotage yourself by focusing on the ‘gap years’. Focus on being qualified. On having what they’re looking for. Flag up the smarts you have. Make sure that your relevant achievements go in your personal statement, for example.
This way, what the recruiter sees first is that you have what they need. If you’ve got a recent employment gap, mention that further down, but keep it short.
What’s most relevant here is your experience, not your career break. It's vital that you focus on the work experience that's relevant to the role you want, and position that clearly and confidently.
"Focus on being qualified. On having what they’re looking for. Flag up the smarts you have"
Ready to Step Up
If you’ve worked in roles that aren’t relevant, but that’s your most recent experience, then you’ll need to make a judgement call about how to position those jobs. You can package them up as roles that you took to be able to focus on your family, but then make it very clear that you are ready to step back into your previous career and have all the experience you need to be successful.
"What’s most relevant is your experience, not your career break"
In an application form, the order that you have to fill in the fields isn’t always up to you, but you usually get a section where you’re asked to add in anything else that you feel is relevant. You can use that part of the form to point out that you can do the job – and that you are excited that his role will give you the chance to relaunch your career.
Never be put off applying for a role because you've spent your most recent years focusing on your family and let your career plateau. When you're ready to relaunch your career, instead, remind yourself you have all the experience and skills you need, and go out into the world confident in your abilities, presenting your value clearly.