Looking for a new job after a lengthy career break and not sure where to start?
Whether your career break was due to travel, redundancy, further study, personal illness, family commitments, or something else – knowing how to address it on your CV can be a challenge. But the biggest mistake you can make is to ignore it.
The example we’ve used in this template is for a break brought on by family commitments, but for more specific help, you can read our guide on how to explain a gap in your CV.
Start with a personal statement tailored to the role in question.
In terms of structure, consciously try and answer the following questions: Who are you? What do you have to offer? What are you aiming for in your career?
You can reference the reason for your gap in this section, but don’t pay it any more attention than a single line or two. Leave any extra explanation for your cover letter, and use your personal statement to talk about your career before your time off, and to reaffirm your desire to begin working again.
Instead of letting a gap linger, you may choose to place precedence on your skills and/or major achievements.
Just as with your personal statement, try giving examples that are applicable to the role in question. For example, IT skills (naming specific programs), problem solving, public speaking and interpersonal skills, not to mention a friendly and welcoming demeanour, are all desirable qualities to have.
For most roles, successfully demonstrating your experience and achievements in previous positions is essential. Write in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent jobs coming at the top.
It’s not necessary to include all of your experience in your CV. If you were in employment for years before your gap, and held a number of different positions which aren’t applicable to the role in question, it’s to be expected that you’ll scale down the detail
You may also choose to reference your break in this section, rather than leave an obvious gap. Simply stating the reason and time period taken will be more than enough (i.e. ‘career break taken to raise a family, 2008/2013’ in the example).
If you have no recent employment history
If you have no recent employment history, use this gap as your opportunity to be pro-active. Try volunteering with a local charity for a few weeks or at a locally-run business.
They will be grateful for the help and you will prove to hiring managers that you’re fully reliable and ready to re-enter the workforce.
Finally, rather than concentrating on daily duties, try and emphasise your accomplishments, wherever possible, or any other skills you picked up which may help you in the position you’re applying for. When in doubt, always use the STAR technique.
Education should be included from GCSE (or equivalent) level onwards. Write in reverse-chronological order, with the most recent events coming at the top.
State the number qualifications achieved and general grades you received (Maths and English at the very least). If you’re awaiting results, you may state mock/expected results where possible, although this is not essential.
Include your degree classification, A level/IB (or equivalent) results and any other higher education diplomas if you have them. You can also reference particular course modules you’ve undertaken to demonstrate your wider knowledge of the subject, which may be relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Hobbies & Interests
A Hobbies and Interests section is optional. However, if you lack any notable work experience, this section can be a great way of getting your personality across.
Ask yourself: Will they help you get the job? If not, it’s probably worth leaving them out.
Finally, make sure you’re happy to expand upon your interests at an interview – because there’s nothing worse than an awkward silence whilst you struggle to come up with an impressive (and work-related) example of your love of ‘socialising with friends’.
Unless asked directly in the job posting, making references available on request is fine.
However, always make sure you do have credible references. Close family friends, teachers, or career councillors are all good options, and most are usually happy to help.
For a career break, a former boss would be a great reference to have. Not only will this demonstrate that you’re competent and you left your previous position amicably, it will also be a testament to your character to show you’ve kept in touch.