Mind the CV gap: creative ways to explain a career break

If you have been out of work for some time, then explaining the gap in your CV can seem like a difficult task. We have some tips.

You can smell a pooey nappy at 30 paces, make a crying baby gurgle in 20 seconds and decorate delectable fairy cakes while chatting on the phone.

But these impressive skills will leave a potential employer cold when you re-enter the workplace after time out as a stay-at-home mum.  And calling yourself Chief of Home Operations, however valid, is also unlikely to land you an interview.

So, how DO you explain that gap on your CV without, um… lying through your teeth? It’s all about confidence. Check out these tips:

Relevance, relevance, relevance

Just because you’ve been at home doesn’t mean the skills you once had have disappeared and you’ve probably added to them through activities outside the workplace.

We’re not talking about hours spent watching daytime telly or chin-wagging at coffee mornings. The trick is to highlight the right skills in a way that will blow the employer away.  Talk up organisational skills used in planning the local fete or leadership in persuading the school board to buy gym equipment at a PTA meeting.

Skills valued by employers include taking initiative, decision-making, managing budgets, long-term planning and dealing with conflict. Find everyday examples where you used these skills and make them relevant to the job you want.

Don’t forget to include skills you haven’t used for a while. Think back to what you were great at before your world started revolving around school runs and lunchboxes!

Get personal

Before you press send, try to imagine what personal traits the employer might be looking for when you apply for a job. Think – optimism, creativity, resilience and flexibility… and make these traits easy to spot by sticking them at the top of your CV, showing how you’ve used them.

Consider not using a chronological CV format – a date-by-date listing of your past employment – as it draws attention to a glaring gap. In stead, create a functional CV that summarises your accomplishments and what you have to offer upfront.

Dust off your skills

Do your skills seem a bit rusty? Maybe it’s time to cull that student newspaper editing job you did 15 years ago and show that you’ve moved with the times.

Update your skills by taking an evening or weekend class, either locally or online, reading industry publications, attending events and taking part in Linked In forums to show that you’ve still got your foot on the pedal. Mention that social media course you’ve done or database management skills you developed managing the registration process for the netball club.

Stand out from the crowd

Do something that shows a bit of oomph. It doesn’t matter whether it makes money or not, but the fact that you were motivated and serious about something – unrelated to being a mum.

For example: self-publish an e-book about a hobby you’re passionate about or how to tame terrible twos – it doesn’t have to win a Pulitzer prize or be very long, but it shows creativity and drive.

Selling homemade birthday cakes or offering writing or art classes in the community will distinguish you from other stay-at-home mums. Whatever you do, be confident – show employers that staying at home was a deliberate choice and that you are now ready to give a job your full attention.

*Fiona Clark is a qualified confidence and career coach who founded Inspired Mums to inspire women to reach their full potential at work. Fiona re-launched her own career when she had a family because she wanted work that truly motivated her and fitted around her lifestyle. She is passionate about helping women find fulfilling, family friendly roles. 





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