Mind the Gap – Explaining Gaps on Your Graduate CV

As you are studying, lengthy holidays and study breaks are a regular occurrence, in between terms and new academic years. It’s common for students to spend some of that free time travelling, socialising and interning to gain precious work experience. However, what happens if you – shock and horror – haven’t thought about your career until final exams were over? Unless you are particularly career savvy and/or have been accepted onto a graduate scheme, most graduates will be left to their own devices in the big graduate job market. Gaps on CVs are about as appealing to employers as sitting through a 36-hour exam marathon is to you. How do you sort your hedonistic holidays from your hazy hangover-wasted days? Read on to find out how to transform gaps into #brrrrapz.

1) Extended holidays and gap yahs

Who said gap years were only for 6th formers, anyway? With graduate job openings supposedly having taken a slump, it’s very probable that you, or your friends, have thought about spending some time away, to escape it all. Or maybe you’re scared of entering the job market and want to make the most of your time before starting a permanent job. Either way, extended holidays can look average on a CV, as others are doing it, too. Make sure that if you do decide to go abroad and you have little work experience on your CV, you mention the skills and abilities you developed during your stint around the globe. You’ve learnt to budget, you have people skills as you socialised with all sorts of travellers, you may have stopped off somewhere to teach along the way…It’s crucial you make these attributes work for you on your CV.

2) Temp work/bar work/part-time work that isn’t your chosen career path

Temping in admin roles or working at your local café, if it’s not your life-long ambition and you’ve been doing it for a while, can work against you on your CV, if you’re not careful. Try and gain some new skills and added responsibility to boost your experience there. A buzzword amongst employers at the moment is entrepreneurship. Regardless of what job you are doing, it’s important for you to constantly add value to your CV. If it isn’t feasible for you to take on more of a front seat at work, try and do something in your spare time that allows you to hone skills that are essential in your dream sector (e.g. blog if you fancy getting published, get involved with social media channels if you dream to land a role in digital marketing, etc.)

3) The unemployed

Being unemployed can seem like fun for the first week (ok, maybe two) but it can be a slow-burn in terms of keeping your momentum up, especially if you’re looking for a role in a niche sector. Instead of wallowing away in pyjamas and comfy dressing gowns, you should look to perfect (or even learn!) new skills as you’re on your job hunt. It can be depressing to work on your CV/covering letters all day and file application after application. Integrate a lesson/tutorial or two into your job hunting timetable, sourced either on the net or through your university contacts, if possible. You could learn anything from html code to a new foreign language, or even meet up with a group of like-minded people (e.g. book clubs, etc.) It’s good to maintain your hungry, creative streak as this will keep you motivated in the long-run, despite the prospect of dealing with possible job rejections, failed interviews, etc. It will also show a ‘can-do’ attitude when you undoubtedly get asked about these newfound skills at a job interview.

The rule of thumb is that regardless of whether you’ve graduated a while back or are a recent grad, you need to be able to justify gaps on your CV. Find a way to put a positive spin on your previous work experience, travels and such like, and you’re closer to that desired work opportunity than you might think!

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