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Empty Spaces - How To Cover Your CV.

Published 14 September 2017

Writing or updating your CV is a process that can be time consuming and to a degree, challenging. Certainly if you have had a period of time out of work. In my experience candidates can certainly find these “spaces” hard to write about and feel a desire to either over speculate or conceal them. This article will share some tips on how to explain those gaps on your CV.

Why do “spaces” happen?

I find interviewing candidates who have gaps on their CV to usually be quite enlightening. Many can make me envious with stories of trips they have taken and sights they have seen. As a parent myself, I can empathise with those who have taken career breaks to bring up their family. And, after recruiting through the last recession I understand why some have found it hard to find a new role despite applying for many.

In my experience, honesty is always the best policy. I once interviewed a candidate who said they had been off work for six months as they had been travelling, when we discussed where they had gone it was revealed that they had been away for a fortnight.

Telling the truth is always the best way.

But how to explain?

Explaining a gap in your CV should be a simple process. When writing your CV I would advise against writing anything that detracts from your skill base. CV’s should be about selling yourself to an employer, not creating doubt at the first hurdle.

If you have had an extended break, for example taking time out to bring up children, or travelling for an extended period, then I would include it on your CV. Ensure you mention any skills that you have learnt during this time which can be of a benefit to an employer.

If your “space” is due to unemployment, then I wouldn’t draw reference to it initially. A more appropriate place to discuss a space of around one to six months would be in an interview. It is easier to verbally explain how you have managed your time during unemployment. If you have volunteered or taken a short term interim project you can talk through with the client. Likewise any other activities you have been involved with (caring for a relative, house decorations) you can mention at this point.


A six month plus gap?

It is helpful to reference gaps that are longer than six months, but always concentrate on the positive.

Firstly ensure the first thing on your CV are your skills and achievements, as opposed to an explanation of unemployment. Your CV should be eye-catching and have strong examples of the skills the role you are applying for is asking for.

Then list your roles and responsibilities in chronological order. When it comes to describing the time you were out of work ensure you frame your words positively.

For example….

“Had a period of unemployment, during which time I ensured I was focused on interviewing for roles where I felt I could add value, and maintained my industry knowledge through reading relevant articles and networking with previous customers and contacts.”


“During this period I was looking for my next career opportunity whilst supplementing my income by working in part time and interim roles until I secured my new role.”

The point is to keep it short, sweet, and positive, so it demonstrates you are looking to secure the right role.


Feel you need to explain in detail about why you have been out of work on your CV, your CV is meant to be a positive representation of your abilities. Likewise, oversharing about personal issues on paper can sometimes be off putting to an employer.

Instead, find a positive light and use it, keep it short, expand in the interview (positively) and focus on selling yourself.

Good luck

Cover Image by Stuart Miles. Courtsey of freedigitialphotos