A gap in your CV could be a good thing – be proud of yours!

A friend of mine has been job-hunting recently and, bit by bit, despite having no good reason to doubt himself, I’ve noticed the usual job-search insecurity creeping in. It got me thinking about how good we all are at underestimating our own value and tripping ourselves up.

A lot of the anxiety stems from the gaps in his CV and how adequately he feels he can justify them. This is a worry that so many face when it comes to filling out job applications – not least carers and ex-carers who have taken a break from work to care for a loved one.

Caring doesn’t necessarily mean taking a break from work though, and being a working carer is gradually becoming normalised in the workplace. Currently, nearly 1 in 8 employees is a carer at any one time – meaning many more will be a carer at some point in their careers.

At Carer Support Wiltshire, roughly 30% of our workforce are carers and, as you’d expect, being a carer-aware employer is something we pride ourselves on – and we aren’t the only ones. Employers are increasingly realising the impact that caring is likely to have on their workforce. With the war on talent still raging, no employer can afford to be complacent, and forward-thinking companies are taking steps to make sure their employer brand is a carer-friendly one.

Despite this increased awareness, it’s easy to lose your confidence if you’ve been out of work for a while. People all too often convince themselves that their caring role represents a weakness in their CV, and fail to recognise the wealth of experience and new skills that caring provides. This lack of confidence can result in attempts to try to hide any gaps in your work history.

Don’t let yourself think that your caring role is a disadvantage which needs to be swept under the rug. Being a carer is a hugely valuable experience, which allows you to develop incredibly useful skills – many of which can be applied in the workplace. What’s more, recruiters will spot any efforts to disguise employment gaps a mile off and ask you about it anyway!

It’s better to be truthful about any periods of unemployment from the start. Interviewers are just people after all, and they too are likely to have personal experience of caring. There’s no need to go into any great detail – keep it brief and factual. And don’t forget: nobody’s CVs are perfect! Lots of people take career gaps but not everyone has such a selfless reason for doing so.

What an employer wants is to find a great addition to their team, who has the right skills to do the job. Everyone has weaknesses to contend with; focus on your strengths and don’t let self-doubt trip you up!

Lizzie Rapley, CSW Partnerships and Development Officer