Should a gap on a CV be a deterrent to employment? That’s the question many employers and recruiters ask themselves when they come across the CV of a candidate who, in every other way, looks to be a good fit for a vacancy.
Our answer, as expert independent recruiters, is this: it depends.
That may seem like sitting on the fence, but it is the case that having a gap in a CV may or may not be a deterrent. It really depends why there is a gap. The solution, therefore, is for recruiters and employers to delve a little deeper.
Why might a candidate have a ‘legitimate’ gap in their CV?
Five good reasons to have a gap on a CV
- State of the jobs market
Thanks to the pandemic, we are currently going through economic uncertainty and rising joblessness. Landing a job is much harder in times of high unemployment and this means the gap between positions will be wider for many. Where once quality candidates would have walked into their next position, they may now be waiting longer.
It’s not uncommon for people to take time out of their careers to travel or to enjoy a sabbatical. The gap year is no longer the province of pre-university or post-grad students. If you have a strong candidate who has a six or 12-month career gap because they have actively made a decision to take time out, that could be a positive benefit. They will be refreshed, ready to get stuck into their new role, and the experience they’ve enjoyed will have enriched them as a person.
- Caring for family
Many people take a career break to bring up a family. Mostly women, but an increasing number of men, will be the main carer for young children. Equally, people may need to take time off to care for elderly or sick relatives.
In either scenario, this can account for a gap of several years, but that doesn’t mean that the people haven’t acquired new and valuable skills during that time. Those who are juggling parenting and care commitments are generally excellent multi-taskers and very hard working.
Carers are also compassionate, empathetic and patient, all excellent characteristics in a new employee.
- Taking time out to study
If a candidate has taken a break to study a new skill or subject, that speaks volumes. It shows they are keen to learn, that they are interested in self-development and extending themselves. What they have specifically been studying could also benefit you, as their new employer. They may have acquired a second language, or additional computing skills – could these skills be valuable to you in a new employee?
- Volunteering and charity work
Many people take time out to support their community or charities. For example, someone who has been bereaved may take time away from work to support a charity close to their heart, by volunteering or fundraising. Again, this reveals information about a candidate’s personality and commitment. Plus, alongside their volunteering and fundraising, they will undoubtedly be learning new skills and brushing up on old ones.
It’s clear there are many legitimate reasons for a gap on a CV, more than we have outlined here, but we would like to strike a note of caution. If the employment gap cannot be easily explained, or doesn’t quite seem to add up, then you should ask for supporting evidence.
It doesn’t happen often, but just occasionally a candidate will be economical with the truth about any gaps on their CV, and the reasons why they left a job. Therefore, as recruiters, we will delve a little deeper. However, as long as candidates are honest – and they usually are – we can work together.
If you are currently looking for new candidates, then the team at 24-7 Staffing would love to help. At 24-7 Staffing, we particularly focus on the driving, commercial, healthcare and industrial sectors. Please get in touch to talk about how we can partner you in your recruitment. We work with businesses in Chippenham, Salisbury, Bristol, Wiltshire and across the South West.