Filling a gap in your CV – What to do and what not to do

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

(This has also been published as a guest blog by They are a Glasgow based agency specialising in HR, supply chain and manufacturing, amongst other sectors. Get in touch to see how they can help YOU)

So there’s a gap on your CV. It’s not uncommon but it can be looked upon unfavourably by employers so what should you do if you have had long periods without paid work?

For me, the answer to that depends on what you were doing at the time.

If you took time out of paid work to look after children or other family members, then a sentence with ‘Caring for family’ and the dates is adequate. There is no need to elaborate on the tasks that you carried out during that time.

The one exception to this is if you are applying for a role in the care sector when caring for an elderly person and helping them with medication, appointments, advocacy and personal care would be a great benefit and counts towards your experience in the sector. If this is the case then do mention all of the work that you did for the family member during this period.

If you gained other qualifications or undertook voluntary work during this time, then these should go under the separate headings of ‘Voluntary Work’ and ‘Education and Training’ or similar.

If you had to take time out due to your own ill health or difficult family circumstances, this can be trickier to describe. I totally understand the desire to be honest but ultimately, it’s an employers market so don’t allow something that happened in the past to affect your earning potential in the future.

A good way to get round this is to describe it as a ‘Career Break’ and again give dates. Employers will ask if they want to know more. Many things could have caused this including break up’s, illness and bereavement but also you could have received an inheritance, downsized or relocated or your family dynamic could have changed. This covers all of these and doesn’t in itself have any negative connotations. Again, if you studied or undertook voluntary work at this time then you can reference this in other sections of your CV.

If you took the break specifically to study then you can simply say ‘Full time Student’ and give dates whilst referencing your attainment in the education section.

It’s a good idea not to ignore gaps of longer than around 1 year as not mentioning them can make employers wonder what was going on at this time. A simple sentence with dates fills that gap and allows for further questioning if required.

Hope this helps and as always, get in touch if you need more support with this by emailing me at

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