Having a gap in work history is not unusual and it can be for a number of reasons such as; study, raising kids, maternity, medical, caring for sick relative, relocation, career switch, setting up a business, resignation, termination, layoff, downsizing, Mergers & Acquisition, among others.

{Meanwhile, if you are laid off because of fraud, gross misconduct, negligence, poor performance etc. word of advice is further down ☟☟☟☟☟}

Do not beat yourself over the size of your work gap, what is more crucial is what you do during the employment break and finding the right words to explain it on your CV or LinkedIn profile or during an interview.

Any unaccountable work gap on CV/Résumé can easily be flagged by a recruiter and this could jeopardize any chances of considering the applicant for the role. Explain every gap in your work history and do not leave it hanging.

Are you currently unemployed or in between jobs?

Are you doing something worthwhile with your time or just lazing around wishing for the dream job to come knocking????

It is advisable to maximize this break by engaging in activities relating to your profession/passion or career path. This is necessary in order to remain relevant in your chosen field.

WHAT TO DO DURING WORK GAP

#1- Sign up for free online courses. Check these sites;

https://www.coursera.org,https://www.edx.org, https://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative, https://alison.com,

#2- Volunteer at activities in several groups; NGOs, religious, educational or social.

#3- Volunteer to work without pay.

#4- Attend Seminars, Workshops, Trainings, Webinars, Conferences.

#5- Join relevant professional bodies (online and offline) and be active.

#6- Sharpen your networking skills and leverage on it.

#7- Start a business (if possible).

[Don’t be afraid if you have ventured into businesses which eventually failed, I’m sure you learnt a lot and you must have developed some business skills which are worth mentioning on your CV].

HOW TO EXPLAIN GAPS ON CV/RÉSUMÉ OR LINKEDIN

Here are examples of how the gaps can be explained on a CV/Résumé or LinkedIn or during an interview based on the actions you took

Study

  • Took 2-years study leave to pursue Masters in Finance and Financial Regulations at Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

Modules studied: Security Analysis, Business Finance, International Finance, Financial Reporting, Corporate Governance, Applied Research and Methodology.

  • Enrolled for intensive 1 year full-time MSc in Estate Management at University of Lagos, Akoka. Lagos Nigeria.

Modules studied: Advanced Valuation, Feasibility and Viability Studies, Property Management, Macro Economics, Micro Economics, Statistics.

 

Entrepreneurship/Setting up a business

  • Dedicated 5 months to doing researching, training and job shadowing to understand the end-to-end processes of supply chain management for some Agricultural products. Visited an African country to benchmark operational best practices in mechanized farming and how it can be adapted to Nigeria.

SKILLS: Research, Operational Management, Business Process Improvement.

  •  Published a book titled ‘Art of Selling for SMEs’ and single-handedly sold 25,000 hard copies within 2 years.

SKILLS: Sales, Marketing, Negotiation, Communication….

  •  Founded a Logistics and Distribution company. Grew the company from Zero to N850,000 turnover within 1 year through efficient planning and Just-In Time delivery of goods and services to customers.

SKILLS: Service Delivery, Project Management, Inventory Management, Client Servicing, Supply Chain Management, Logistics.

On Line Courses

  • In the last 1 year, I took some online certificate courses in; Sales Fundamental, HR Management, Project Management, Effective Negotiation, Digital Marketing, Market Penetration, Customer Service, Credit Analysis ….

Volunteer/Professional Affiliation

  • I was a volunteer member of an International Charity Organization for 6months, I participated in charity projects which include: health talks on Tuberculosis, HIV, Malaria and Cervical cancer in various gatherings.
  • As a volunteer with United Nations, I facilitated community mobilization and outreaches to increase awareness on Child Protection, Sex Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Gender Equality in Education…

SKILLS: Program Facilitation, Project Coordination, Diversity & Inclusion, Presentation, Planning & Organization, Programme Support Advocacy, Public Speaking etc.

  • I took 3years off to raise my kids, during this time, I was elected as the Secretary for Nigerian Institute of Management. I was actively involved in planning conferences and organizing the annual ‘Young Managers workshops’ for undergraduates.

SKILLS: General Administration, Office Management, Customer Service, Conflict Resolution, Mentoring, Public Speaking, Social Media Campaigning.

If work gap is due to Downsizing/Mergers & Acquisition

  • The company undergone an organizational restructuring and was part of the staff that were regrettably, let go. However, I have a recommendation letter from my previous employer attesting to my unflinching commitment to work.

☞☞☞ If you are laid off or dismissed due to poor performance, gross misconduct, fraud, negligence either you are guilty or falsely accused.

There is no point to lie during an interview because the employer will find out anyway (while conducting a background check).

So, be truthful about it. If you are guilty and genuinely sorry for your action- show remorse and iterate lessons learnt. Don’t dwell on the act, rather, demonstrate your readiness to start afresh and not make the same mistake.

Here are few points and can get you through the dilemma;

  • Settle for a pay cut (if offered).
  • Provide credible guarantors.
  • Volunteer to sign letter of undertaking.
  • Get attestation letters from reputable clergy men.
  • Agree to a longer probationary period.

OR you can also

  • Ask friends/family for referrals.
  • Start your own business

Conclusion

If you are still in-between jobs or unemployed, it is never too late to start developing and sharpening your skills. Get busy with activities that help you stay updated in your chosen field.

Tip: If you have a wide gap in your work history or you have switched career path, avoid using a Chronological CV rather adopt a Functional CV. Functional CV is used to hide imperfect work experiences.

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