If you have a large gap in your job history, an employer may well ask you to explain what you were doing during this time. Gaps left unexplained in your CV can show you in a less than positive light, as they can lead the employer to draw their own, quite possibly unfavourable, conclusions about your character and work ethic. Writing your employment history in yearly, rather than monthly, instalments can easily erase a gap of only a few months and help to keep your CV short and concise. Longer gaps are harder to gloss over, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible to do so.
If you left a job to pursue further or higher education, especially if it is relevant to the job you are applying for, be sure to let the employer know, as this will most likely be seen as a positive step. Likewise, if you had to leave your job to have or care for a child, be sure to make this clear. However, if you were just plain old out-of-work during this period, try to think of positive projects you were involved with. Perhaps you helped a friend or family member to set up their business during this time, or you were involved with a local charity of some description. You have to be prepared to back up these stories with details, so be sure to prepare thoroughly for the interview, so that you don’t have to make anything up on the spot, making you seem disorganised, dishonest, or both! If you kept yourself afloat during this period by doing odd jobs unconnected with your chosen career, list these jobs in your CV and be prepared to talk about them if questioned.
If you were fired from a previous job, it would be a good idea to avoid mentioning this in your CV or interview if at all possible. However, if you are unable to provide a believable reason for leaving the job, or it is likely that your story will be contradicted by a reference, it is possible to say that you were fired without losing too much credibility. If you were fired as part of a downsizing or cost-cutting operation, then say so, as this does not reflect nearly as badly upon you as if you were fired for poor performance or a lack of discipline. If you have to say that you were fired for personal or performance reasons, explain the situation truthfully and without bitterness, and highlight what you have learned from the situation and how it has changed your awareness and, if necessary, your attitude, for the better.
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