How to present your career break to a new employer

How should you present a career break in your cv? The experts at Check-a-Salary have some advice.

CV Tips


Maybe you’ve experienced it. The interview’s going great. You’re thinking – “I’ve got this one in the bag!” Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the dreaded question…

“We’ve noticed an 18-month gap in your career history. Can you please explain this?” The panic rises. Do you tell them the truth about your time working as a fire-eater and juggler at full-moon parties in Thailand? Or do you make something up?

Or maybe you were out of work due to ill-health. There may be a temptation to cover this up. Well, first of all – there’s no need to lie. Lying is never good in an interview. But there are ways of making the truth sound more palatable, even attractive, to an employer.

So, here are five great tips on how to answer those awkward career break questions.

1. Prepare your answers and CV

Make sure your CV notes the career gap rather than just omitting it. Potential employers will think you’re trying to hide something if there is nothing noted. Be honest: if you were ill, explain the illness. If you took time out to travel, explain where you went and what you did. Putting this directly on your CV will stop you from getting flustered when they ask about it in the interview.

2. Concentrate on the skills you developed during the break

If you went travelling, you almost certainly developed interpersonal, organisational and problem-solving skills. Even if you were ill or dealing with a family issue, you can highlight the skills you learned or explain how you used the time to read up on your profession.

3. Highlight your strong work ethic

If you worked in menial jobs during your career break, you can highlight that this shows a good work ethic. Even if you did something fun like travelling around all the Australian surf spots, make sure you highlight your strong work ethic before and after your travels, as well as any casual work you did out there.

4. Get good references

Make sure you have good, positive references from before your career break. If this isn’t possible, for example, you were fired from your previous job, try to get someone in a responsible position to write you a character reference.

5. Provide concrete evidence of success

Share any achievements you’ve had in previous jobs or personal achievements. Don’t gloss over anything, providing evidence is crucial when trying to persuade the interviewer that you are the person for the job.


Successfully negotiating questions about a career break involves being honest and open. Be prepared and make sure that you highlight your skills and achievements. Don’t hide anything and be prepared to provide evidence that you are still the right person for the job.

*This article was written by Check-a-Salary, a platform dedicated to providing insight on earnings for every position in the UK.

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