Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, even for a seasoned pro. Gaps in our working life between jobs in a CV worry us more than anything, even when that down-time might have been necessary, or benefitted us in many ways.

Worry no more! Here are three ways to make those gaps work to your advantage:

Be proactive

Answer the employer’s question before they ask – maybe not in the cover letter, but definitely in the CV itself. You don’t need a lengthy explanation – just outline what the gap was used for, eg. “International Travel” or “Study”. This will help put the employer’s mind at rest – and give you more confidence going in by steering the discussion where you want it to go.

Be confident

What you did in those gaps can be attractive to an employer, showing them you’re not just another “wage slave”, but that you have motivation, drive and desire – exactly the sort of person they want working for them!

Be prepared

Prepare to discuss the gaps as you would for any other part of the interview. Practice what you’ll say and make notes if you need to. A few things to keep in mind:

• identify what you learned or experienced during each gap, especially if that might benefit the employer – eg. leadership skills or management experience. Even if your gaps were for less than positive reasons – dismissal, unemployment or ill health, for example – find the positives in each situation and make sure that they come across to the employer.

• If you have ongoing health problems that might affect your work, be upfront but proactively discuss alternatives and workarounds.

We hope these tips make CV gaps less ominous, and help you explain them to your benefit!

If you’d like to discuss this or any aspect of your interview further, we’d be happy to be your sounding board.

Good luck with the job interview!
Kirsty and Nikki

McLaren Case Study - Institute of Economic Research (NZIER)