Posted in Communication

How to explain gaps in your CV

I have been away for a while and at some point I wondered what happened to me and writing.

I have met wonderful people who are all doing amazing things in the communication field. Today I will feature an article by one of these people. Joan Ngare. Joan is a career consultant in Nairobi.



At some point in our employment history, we are likely to experience some gaps as a result of resignation, firing, a company downsizing on its structure, a company seizing to exist, contract or temporary jobs or just the state of not securing a job in a long time either after school or after the last employment. The most common gaps come about as a result of firing, resignation, contract jobs where one is unable to secure a permanent post upon the end of a contract. All you need to know is how to explain these gaps to a potential employer without sounding like a lazy and unreliable person who cannot be trusted with responsibilities.

Some gaps are much easier to explain away than others and the key is to make it sound as positive as possible. Explain the gap in such a way as to reassure potential employers that the issue is now completely resolved and that you are fit for work. If you worked as an Accountant for six years, such as, with a degree in Finance, then one time you felt you needed to further your studies to advance professionally, consider this as a positive gap that will add value to your CV and not raise eyebrows during an interview as it shows your determination to meet your goals.

There are some gaps in employment that you need not bother mentioning and these particularly include those that were only for a couple of months at a time or those that occurred a very long time ago. On a CV, the easiest way to avoid these sorts of gaps being highlighted is to only give the years for your employment and not the months. If you worked for Equity Bank for example from February 2009 to October 2009, stayed jobless from November 2009 to February 2010 when you secured another job, that four-month gap really won’t harm and there’s no need for alarm. Just state that in 2009, you worked for Equity Bank.

Employers get concerned about employment gaps mainly because they are not sure of one’s commitment and loyalty, especially if you left employment to go venture in business and then for some reason, came back to job hunting. In this case, let your response counter the employers doubts, the best way is to keep the same title you used in your last employment. This is how, if you were a Supervisor before you left employment, and then started your own furniture store, keep the same title for your business. It shows some continuity and passion for your work. You even stand a better chance if you apply for the same job.

Sometimes, however, no matter how hard you have tried, the right job is just not out there for you and you have a gap in your employment history purely for this reason. Many employers will find it easier to believe that you have just been idle during this time. Your aim is to highlight anything positive that you have undertaken during this time and, if you haven’t actually achieved anything, then perhaps you can try to finding something that you can do that will add value to your CV like a voluntary position to keep you active during this time. Either way, when preparing your CV and cover letter, make sure that you clearly state how you have been proactive in your job seeking during this time and that you are readily available to start work at the convenience of the employer. Be positive and make sure that while called for an interview, you come about as enthusiastic and ready for work.



Eco-entrepreneur and a Project Manager in Auckland, New Zealand.

3 thoughts on “How to explain gaps in your CV

  1. Great advice, Joan. Surprisingly there’s a lot of people out there who won’t explain a gap in employment, even if they have good reason to and it’s not their fault (e.g. perhaps they were made redundant). I think it’s a case that they didn’t know to explain the gaps, but it’s best that they do, just in case – as you say – a recruiter or employer thinks there may be a negative reason behind it.

    1. you’re right Steven. Most people fear having their past exposed especially where one was fired for alleged fraud or incompetence at work. It even gets tricky when they’re required to have the same employers who fired them as references. In such a case, the best thing would be to settle the matter with bosses you may have fallen out with and in vases where this is not possible, then you may consider doing away with that specific job in your CV but in cases where this job really defines your career, you can use someone else who understands and who is in a senior position in the company you left as a reference.

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