Why your next employer may value the career break on your CV
Historically, it was commonly accepted that time out from your career could weaken your chances of getting a job; candidates were advised that any significant CV breaks had the potential to cause problems. However, we’re now seeing a more diverse pool of professionals taking career breaks, and attitudes are changing. We spoke to Kellie Kwarteng, Partner at Real Staffing, to find out more.
Attitudes towards gaps in CV’s
There are many reasons that people may have gaps in their CV’s. This could be to travel the world, bring up a family, or sadly in some cases care for a loved one. Unfortunately, some employers have been known to instantly dismiss candidates with incomplete CV’s, branding them lazy and inept. However, as the job market evolves, so do employer attitudes.
According to Kellie, “Within the public sector, especially when focussing on contract positions, hiring managers are concerned with competency above all else. If your CV demonstrates the skills to complete a project then that should override any gaps”.
Just because someone has taken time away from their career to focus on other aspects of their life, this doesn’t mean they’re unambitious or have a poor work ethic. Many would argue the opposite could be true. Kellie explains, “If you’re transparent and can honestly explain reasons for the gaps in your CV, then this shouldn’t pose an issue. Sometimes things happen in life and employers are understanding of that.”
Value of career gaps
Most successful people have a well-rounded life, and this allows them to excel professionally. Taking time away from your career to pursue personal endeavours arguably allows individuals to become better at their job. Whether it’s travelling the world and learning about other cultures, or fulfilment from family life, these experiences shape your perspective and working life.
Some of the most valuable skills you can apply to a job can’t be acquired through education or employment. If you’ve taken a break to raise a family or look after a loved one, this demonstrates strength and discipline. Travelling the world may have afforded you the opportunity to pick up a second language and volunteering highlights commitment to a project. Traits such as these are highly valuable to employers. Career coach John Lees explains, “Organising a career break takes imagination and commitment, but it also shows that you are decisive”.
Companies encouraging career breaks
According to Lisa Merrick-Lawless, founder and director of Headspace, “Taking a sabbatical or adult gap year can provide people with many benefits including time to clear your head and the opportunity to step back and reassess in a way that could improve your quality of life”
Many organisations place high value in taking significant time away from work and as such establish sabbatical schemes for loyal employees. This is because there is benefit to the employer and not just the employee. Companies that offer sabbaticals have seen increased retention rate. Food and drinks company, Clif Bar, asked its employees what perks it valued and sabbaticals proved the most popular; the company has a 3% turnover rate.
How to handle gaps in your CV
The tide is changing, and employers are becoming much more understanding towards CV gaps. While a gap in employment highlights a break away from work, it could also represent a significant period of time in which a candidate has gained additional skills. The best way to avoid this prejudicial pitfall is to ensure you’re able to validate a career break. If you can answer questions about the skills you gained while out of employment, this demonstrates that you’re a passionate professional with a range of experience.
Working with an organisation like Real Staffing offers a large advantage when combating this issue. Kellie explains, “We work hard to build open and honest relationships with our clients. They trust our judgement when it comes to candidates and therefore we’re able to explain the finer details of CV’s for them. There’s so much that can be said over a phone call or a meeting that doesn’t come across on paper and we can help with this.”
If you’re concerned about returning to work after a lengthy period of time away, speak to one of our consultants today. At Real Staffing, we offer a consultative service and provide recruitment expertise to allow you the best process possible.