How to get a job with gaps in your CV
What to do if you’re applying for a job but have breaks in your paid work.
When you're job hunting with a gap in your CV, your application needs to highlight your skills and any relevant recent experience.
Show employers you’re work ready and up to date
Use a skills-focused CV
Our free CV Builder tool helps you create a skills-focused CV that highlights your technical and personal skills, instead of your work history.
You can also use our CV templates and read examples of skills-focused CVs.
- CV Builder – build a new CV step-by-step
- Skills-focused CV for changing careers or gaps in work history - templates and examples
- How to describe skills in your CV
Show your employability skills
During your gap from paid work you probably gained some employability skills – the seven personal skills employers want
, such as communication and self-management. In your job application, show how you developed and used these skills during your time out of the workforce.
Show how you’ve stayed current
In your cover letter or CV, refer to anything you've done to stay up to date in your industry, such as:
- keeping up your professional registration
- attending conferences or seminars
- writing or reading information about your industry.
Explain the gap in your cover letter
Consider talking about reasons for the gap in your cover letter, for example:
- “I’ve been the main caregiver for our children for the last three years.”
I've spent six months retraining to change my career.” Lying about your gap could lead to dismissal from your job if you were found out.
Show how your experiences prepared you for the job
What you did during your gap may have taught you new skills or created a new interest relating to the job applied for. Here are some examples of what you could refer to in your cover letter, CV or interview.
Caring for others
After a gap looking after children or other people, explain how
you've gained valuable skills such as empathy and resilience.
Explain why you enrolled in a course of study, what you learned and how this made you interested in the job.
Describe volunteer roles in your CV in the same way as paid roles.
Get help to return to paid work
If you’re struggling to find a new job, there’s free help available.
Find out more
- Hays website - 7 common CV gaps, and how to explain them in an interview
- Seek website - Four tips for explaining gaps in your resume
- Wise Ones website - tips to avoid ageism during your job search
- Sign up to our e-newsletter for job hunting tips delivered straight to your inbox
- Hays, ‘Career Breaks – Friend or Foe?’, 2 April 2019, (www.hays.co.nz).
- Ross, K, ‘Tips to Avoid Ageism during Your Job Search’, accessed June 2019, (www.wiseones.co).
Updated 18 May 2020