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Explaining a gap between jobs

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As 'jobs for life' become less common, more and more people find themselves with gaps between jobs. If you've spent periods of time not studying or working, this can be seen as a negative by an employer, but you might be able to easily explain why you had a break. Perhaps you had a career break to bring up children, go traveling, look after someone or because you were ill yourself. It could even be that, despite your best efforts, you were just not able to find work for a time. The important thing is not to 'gloss over' the gap and hope a future employer doesn't notice - you need to put your career break in as positive a light as possible.

Activity: explaining a job gap - 20 minutes

This activity will help you present a career gap in a positive way.

1. At the top of a blank sheet of paper, write down the length of time you weren't working - and the dates.

2. Underneath your heading, explain in a few words the reason for your job gap; for example, "I wasn't working because I had just had my first child.", or "I was living at home, and was too lazy to get a job."

3. Now try to write two or three sentences that honestly describe your career gap, using use only positive words. For example, "I took a break from work to raise three children, and now they have all started school, I am looking forward to resuming my career.", or, "Since being made redundant from my previous post, I have been actively seeking work and keeping up-to-date with developments in the industry".

4. Next, think carefully about this time, and write down any skills you developed during your career break. For example, if you were traveling, you will have developed skills in planning, self-management, independence and cultural awareness.

Recommended Further Reading

You may well be asked about your career break in an interview, but by sticking to the positives and emphasising the skills you developed you'll put your career gap in a positive light.

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