I took a career break. Is the gap in my employment history going to harm my chances of getting a job?

If you’re going for a new job, explaining a long gap in your employment history can be tricky, especially if you quit a job you hated, only to sit around in your underpants watching daytime telly for six months.  But let’s assume you are one of the growing number of working people taking extended periods of leave or time off between jobs to broaden their horizons and develop themselves on a personal and professional level. 

It’s important to be upfront about time off on your CV, because it doesn’t take a genius to spot gaps in your employment history and if you don’t explain it, recruiters may jump to their own conclusions – however unfairly – about your commitment to work.

Whether you spent your time travelling, living abroad, volunteering, retraining or spending more time with your families, couch it in terms of an opportunity seized, positive results achieved and qualities developed – proof that you are a better person and a better worker as a result.

As with whatever you have gained from your working life, show as closely as possible how it has put you in a better position to meet the specific qualities and skills they are looking for in their ideal candidate for the job.  

Other gaps in your employment

Employment law provides protection for workers against discrimination at work on the grounds of, amongst other things, maternity, health and disability. This means that you should not expect less favourable treatment of your job application if, for example, you have been away from work for a prolonged period to start a family or because of extended illness.

Recruiters must follow strict guidelines to avoid discrimination in the application process, and you are entitled to ask for feedback to determine if you have grounds to believe that you have been unfairly treated. More on discrimination