When you’ve been unemployed for a while, gaps in your CV can naturally start appearing and applying for jobs can seem daunting. Whether you’ve been ill, raised a family or have simply struggled in a tough job market, it can be difficult to explain your absence from the workplace.
So how can you impress employers when you haven’t been in employment for a while? This guide talks you through it.
Explaining the gaps
Whatever your reason for CV gaps, don’t shy away or try and hide them. In a difficult job market, employers are more understanding than ever before about long periods of unemployment, so be honest and explain your reasons upfront.
At the start of your CV, write a small paragraph explaining why you’ve been away. Keep positive by highlighting what skills and experience you’ve picked up during this time and emphasise why this could be relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Ignore any negative experiences you may have encountered, and only focus on the positives. Even if you’ve got no work experience on your CV, you can highlight school achievements and responsibilities instead.
Keep up to date with current trends
It’s important to show employers that even though you’ve been unemployed, you’ve kept up-to-date with current trends and news in their industry.
Research the company before you write your CV, and mention achievements and responsibilities that highlight your knowledge of their industry.
Think you may have missed important changes to your ideal career? Or worried you might not have the latest skills? Attend training courses to get you up to speed and mention this on your CV, this lets employers know you’re willing to learn and are committed to working in that career.
Tailor your CV
You need to show employers that you don’t want any old job, you want to work specifically for them, and you have the skills to do the job too.
Highlight any transferable skills, achievements or previous responsibilities that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Going for a finance job? Highlight your budgeting skills. Want to work in customer service?Emphasise your approachable and friendly manner.
By tailoring your CV to suit them, the employer will get a much better idea of whether you’re capable of doing the job.
No matter how long you’ve been out of work, your first port of call when looking for references is always your previous employer.
But if you don’t have much experience, or you’ve lost contact with your last reference, use a personal reference instead who can speak for your character and general work ethic. Steer clear of family or friends who could appear bias, and ask someone who has dealt with you in a professional environment, such as former colleagues or teachers.
If you’re lucky enough to have several people willing to be your reference, pick the employer that’s in a similar sector to the one you’re applying for.
Keep working on your CV
It’s never too late to add experience to your CV, so while you’re waiting for employers to get back to you about your application, start looking for work experience. Even if it’s unpaid, it’ll add to your skill set and make your CV stand out, especially if you find work in a relevant industry that matches your interests.
Whether it’s a few hours in your local charity shop, or a few weeks in an industry you’re interested in, it not only helps fill your CV gaps, but you’ll also meet useful contacts that may offer you work in the future.
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