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Gaps in employment

There are a many host of reasons why you might have gaps in your CV. You may have not been working at all for a considerable length of time or perhaps you have gaps where you have taken shorter breaks in-between jobs? Regardless of the reason, knowing how to address the empty spaces on your CV can be a challenge so making sure you are comfortable and confident speaking about your experience in an application or interview is an important factor in your job search.

Do I need to reference my employment gaps?
Firstly, your CV does not have to cover all your experience. If you started employment years ago and have held several different positions since then, there’s nothing wrong with simplifying the detail; this may present an opportunity to focus on your recent experience without covering your historical gaps.

If your employment gap is recent then it may be worth highlighting it however there may be better places to address them than in the middle of your CV. Your cover letter or supporting statement, for example is a suitable place for you to provide some additional detail about you, here you can elaborate on your gap as well as explaining why you think you are right for the role.

Be Honest & Positive
Whatever the reason is for your employment gap, honestly is always the best policy. You don’t have to go into too much detail (some situations may even benefit from discretion) but leaving it out completely or lying about the reason will only make the gaps stand out further.

There is no need to apologise for your gaps. Your experience forms part of your story and may even contribute to some of the skills and values you can offer a prospective employer. Use positive language when speaking and own your experience. Remember an employer is simply looking to determine your skills, attributes, and commitment to the potential job, they are not trying to catch you out.

Disabilities and health conditions

If you have a disability or a health condition you may feel apprehensive about applying for a job and answering questions relating to your health. However, the law provides you with some protection in this area.

Do I need to disclose information about a disability or my sickness record during the recruitment process?
The short answer is no. The law prohibits employers from asking potential recruits questions about health before making a job offer, other than for a few limited reasons. However, you may need to disclose information about a disability if you need an adjustment to the recruitment process because of your disability. For example, a reasonable adjustment for a dyslexic candidate could involve more time during an assessment.

When can an employer legally ask pre-employment health questions?
Employers can ask pre-employment health questions for the following reasons:

  • To establish whether adjustments are required to the recruitment process.
  • To establish whether you will be able to carry out an important part of the job. For example, if a key part of the job involves heavy lifting an employer can ask you whether you can undertake these tasks. However, an employer cannot ask you questions about your health if they are unrelated to the job in question.
  • To monitor diversity. Many employers send out an equal opportunities monitoring form asking questions about such things as your race, gender, age, religion and disability. However, the answers provided should not be used in any recruitment decision.
  • If a role requires you to have a particular disability.

Disclosing convictions

Convictions can consist of cautions given by the police or convictions given at court. Most convictions are followed by a rehabilitation period. After the rehabilitation period has ended, the conviction becomes ‘spent’. You do not need to tell anyone about a spent conviction unless you’re applying for a job where a standard or enhanced criminal record check is needed.

You are only required to disclose your record to an employer if they ask you. Many employers ask at some point and if your convictions are unspent, you legally need to disclose them. If they ask you and you don’t disclose, they could later revoke the job offer or you could be dismissed. You could even face a further conviction. If you do not give people the information they’ve asked for, they might be able to find it out by checking your criminal record.

The amount of information you need to give depends on the application you’re making. For example, some jobs (such as those involving children or vulnerable people) need a detailed check of your criminal history, including some spent cautions and convictions.

Employers may ask about your criminal record at different stages, e.g. in your initial application or at interview stage.

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