2020-04-09 Comments : 0
A gap year (a term that applies to a year taken off between your education and your subsequent employment) are common with plenty of people taking out time before or during full-time employment to achieve other qualification mostly to experience travel or for personal reasons.
But how do you, as a jobseeker, add that to your CV to present yourself as the ideal candidate?
There can be many reasons for taking a break from work. In this stressful environment, many professionals may experience a burnout in their career - after working long hours and in tough conditions, sometimes individuals may need a break between one job and the next.
Some professionals have to take a gap because of personal reasons like taking care of an elderly relative, family members, or often - a case of change of residence due to their spouse being transferred to another city/out of the country etc. In these cases, employment suffers a break and it may be months or a few years between jobs.
In some cases, it is clearly to take a break and further educational qualifications, like a full time postgraduate course in your specialisation, or a full time M.B.A degree which causes a break between employment.
Hiring managers may not be surprised to see breaks on your CV, but they do expect a good explanation of what you did and what transferable skills you've acquired. Without a reasonable explanation, it would appear that you are not serious about employment and can be a flight risk.
There is a way to present it in a way that doesn't impact your selection by interviewers.
By following these guidelines, your resume can look complete, attract the interviewer and act as a career-building experience.
Ways to explain a gap in employment:
Create a Non-Chronological Resume
One of the best ways is to make a different type of resume - one where you can diminish its visibility so it does not stand out. By adapting a different kind of layout (like a functional resume), which focuses on your skills and experience, rather than the time period of when you acquired them.
A functional resume is more helpful when the gap occurred because of personal family circumstances that you'd prefer mention in person, when asked in an interview.
With a functional resume, you can also mention any skills or certifications you completed during this period without needing to mention the date.
List Your Gap Year in the Experience Section
Always keep the job description in mind when including your skills and experience. Tailor your information to emphasize the skills mentioned in the job description as well as the required tasks, so that you match your qualifications to the role.
Utilise powerful, action-oriented verbs and use figures to quantify your accomplishments and tasks so as to give it more weight.
Discuss it with the interviewer
Honesty is the best policy, there's no need for too much detail if your gap was for something personal like health issues, but omitting it out completely or misrepresenting it will make matters worse. It is of no help to extend your previous working history to cover up the gap, as interviewers conduct background check and can obtain details, best to avoid any falsification.
In most cases, employers and interviewers understand personal reasons and other compelling circumstances that caused the gap, so it is best to explain in brief terms why you needed to take gap, but also important you show that the gap has not decreased any desire in your professional motivation and you are very willing to pick up where you left off!
Emphasize the other achievements
Be sure to highlight any constructive activities that you undertook in this period - like volunteer work, additional courses to develop your skills, freelancing etc. Emphasise on the positive experiences and how they have helped you develop personally & professionally. Incase you were in charge of caretaking for a family member, mention it so and be clear about why you are looking for employment.
Show Your Commitment to Stability Now
Whether the gap year was recent or taken over a longer gap of years, hiring managers will worry if it looks like you're not committed and quick to exit employment.
This is why you need to highlight your commitment and showing it as a motivating event that gave you a renewed focus on getting out again and utilising your skills.
Mention the Transferable Skills You've Gained
Transferrable skills gained during your gap period can help you make more employable. Here are a number of skills you can use:
Some terms you can employ to show transferrable skills are:
Budgeting and Planning
The main thing is to remember to highlight gap year accomplishments throughout your resume
Use the Summary Section
For instance, your summary section may read: "Child care expert and experienced ESL teacher looking for a role teaching English as the first language to high school students."
Example of mentioning gap year:
I. Company A, January 2010 - January 2012, Company F, June 2012 - December 2014
Company A, 2005 - 2008, Company F, 2008 - 2010
II. Mention "Full time course undertaken from XYZ University - 2017 to 2019", and highlight the achievements and benefits this degree brings to your current skill set
III. "Took time to work on raising my young children, until they were capable enough to fend on their own, along with babysitting. I am now refreshed, more keen to demonstrate my abilities and rejoin the workforce."
According to expert recruiters, they are aware and even might have done it themselves - taken time off to raise their children or care for a sick parent, or taken a sabbatical and traveled the world to increase their exposure and knowledge. These can be really successful people too, who just needed to recharge and refocus their energy after a burnout. It is common and there's no need to hide it!