Employment Gaps Reasons YOU MUST resolve for a top CV

Employment gap reasons are so numerous, you would be surprised.

Most people who find that a career break has been forced on them whether willingly or unknowingly will struggle to fill the gaps.

But don’t worry about it, that’s what we do for a living.

And hey….i have we told you that we are very very good at doing it.

So let’s start with looking at the main employment gap reasons that you will probably encounter sometimes in your career.

The 10 Main Employment Gap Reasons you need to overcome.


Reasons for employment gaps and career breaks include:

  1. Medical reasons e.g. illness, therapy
  2. Burnout
  3. Redundancy
  4. Pregnancy
  5. Raising children
  6. Accidents and Injury e.g. trauma, surgery, rehabilitation
  7. Family issues
  8. Traveling
  9. Bankruptcy
  10. Sabbatical

Breaks or gaps in your career are natural and most people have to deal with them at some point. 

The key is to focus on what you can offer and not dwell on the career break.


Always try to spin the career break in a positive way if you can. What did you do during your break? Who did you meet?

Now let’s go into these in a lot more detail

Employment Gap Reason 1 – Medical Reasons

Everyone gets sick at some point. If you don’t, you are very lucky. Whether, its an illness that requires treatment, surgery or therapy – it usually takes time to recover and it is takes more than a few months,then it will start showing up on your CV and recruiters will want to know what you have been doing.
Getting ill/sick is difficult because your body (your interface with the world) is not functioning the way it did before. This is difficult to deal with.
Then you have the fact that you are away from work and not up to date with the current trends and practices. This is also difficult to deal with.
On top of that you also might find that you lose some confidence because your life is not within your control and now you are having to deal with medication, blood tests, hospital and doctor visits. This is not how you envisioned your life going, so if you had the energy you would feel frustrated.
You do not need to mention your illness on your CV but it is comes up in the interview its best to figure out what you are going to say. Keep your answers short. You do not need to provide specific details of your illness or medical problem
The key thing is to say that you were ill but now you are back on track and looking for a new opportunity. Employers will be more impressed if you can show that you had a set back and that you dealt with it or are dealing with it.
If you can, its great opportunity to explain any new relevant skills you have learnt, how you have kept up with industry trends and breakthroughs, if you have done any volunteering or relevant explaining any relevant education or experience you have during your time away from work.
Show that you are ready to return to work, with a focus on why you think you would be a good fit.
This is a perfect storm of craziness that we can help with because we have seen it some many times. So don’t worry we have your back.

Real life employment gap reason example 

MyPerfectCV Founder – Amanda

I did not put my illness on my CV but during my interview at the European Space Agency HR asked about are the gap. I said – After I got my Masters degree, I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and I had to take more than a year off to have an operation and to get by blood levels back to normal. 

But I took this illness as an opportunity so I took evening classes (when I started to feel better) in subjects I have always wanted to study and my CV focused on the evening classes rather than the illness. 

Because of these classes, I had something to talk about during the interview and I did not dwell on the career break or my illness.

This is why I am so passionate about dealing with gaps and changes because I have done it and ended up getting my dream job despite my illness 

We will show you how you deal with your gap effectively and be able to update your CV with confidence and forward momentum. 

I did not put my illness on my CV but during my interview at the European Space Agency HR asked we are the gap. I said the following:

 – yes there is a gap

 – After my Masters degree I got sick. I was diagnosed with a thyroid problem

 – I had an operation to remove it and then I had to go on medication to balance my blood levels. Its been more than a year now and now everything is 

  • Example answer: “I felt unable to continue in my previous position due to a recurring medical condition. However, I have now returned to full health and feel ready to take on this role. It’s a position that draws upon my existing skills, fits my values and gives me the opportunity to add real value every day.
  • Employment Gap Reason 2 – Burnout

Burnout is more common that you think. Its usually caused by long term unresolved stress and it can cause you to feel empty and mentally, emotionally and physically tired. You can’t concentrate or focus and you have lost motivation and drive. Many of the people we see are very high achievers who have lost their life balance and subsequently have just run themselves into the ground or are about to.

Job seeking can be hard when you are fully fit so looking for a job when you are burnt out is almost impossible.

The first thing is to take the time you need to get some balance back and reconnect with yourself.

When you are ready we can help you with the first step of sorting your CV out.

Real life employment gap reason example 

Rebecca said:

“I was managing more and more projects and getting some fantastic results. The better I did the more projects I was given. I went from managing 5 projects to 14 in 2 years. I started working weekends, working longer hours. I became more and more tired as I was going home late and getting up early. I lost motivation and perspective. I finally went to the doctor as I wasn’t sleeping and he gave me a sick note for 3 months. After those 3 months I did not want to go back so I quit. I tried to get back on track for the next 6 months and I started volunteering at a community centre for the elderly. After a year I started to feel more like myself and decided to start looking for management role in the care sector. After working on my CV  with Amanda and MyPerfectCV and we found that I could highlight my volunteering experience. I got an interview and  and funnily enough I could talk about my work at the community centre.”

Employment Gap Reason 3 – Redundancy

From the people we work with who have been made redundant it seems the key is to not take it personally and look at it as an opportunity to start a new chapter in your life. 

We know its difficult as being made redundancy can be seen as a rejection but you have to think that its an opportunity to do something else that you were meant to do.

As with all these unplanned changes, you have to take some time off to get your head together and then when you are ready we can help you sort your CV out.

Real life employment gap reason example 

Alan, (USA) said:

“I was working for an accountancy firm. The company was downsized and the office I was working in was relocated to Washington DC. I was given the chance to move but my kids were in school and my wife was happy with her job. So I took the laid off deal. It took me 6 months to find another job and in the interview I was totally honest and said what had happened. I also spent time coaching my kids soccer team, helping to organise matches and fundraisers and so I talked about that too”

Employment Gap Reason 4 – Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an important part of life. Having children is the most important long term job you can take on and should be celebrated more than it is. We teach the mums who are returning to work to reframe their time away by calling it a career break (which is something you have chosen – proactive) rather than maternity leave (which is something that happens to you – reactive). For more information read our blog post about Mums Returning to Work.

Becoming a mum means that your priorities change and you have to start balancing these priorities more. If you stay at home and look after the kids until they are older then you have a big gap to explain – see Number 5.

Then you have the fact that you have been away from work and not up to date with the current trends and practices.
On top of that you also might find that you lost some confidence because you are now seen as someone’s mum and not a person with skills and abilities of their own. At least this is what the return to work mums we help say about their situation.

Real life employment gap reason example 

Tania, (the Netherlands) said:

“My husband and I had moved to the Netherlands for his job.  I had started looking for a job in the charity sector but got pregnant. I gave birth to Joshua and I was a stay at home mum until he went to school. My degree had been in Public Services and I had 3 years experience working at an NGO before having Joshua.  I had taken some evening classes and was active in the PTA and I realised that these were all relevant skills I could bring to the table. I got my CV totally revamped and started applying. I got 2 interview offers within a month.

Employment Gap Reason 5 – Raising children
As we said in Reason 4 becoming a mum means that your priorities change and you have to start balancing these priorities more. If you stay at home and look after the kids until they are older then you have a big gap to explain – see Number 5.
Employment Gap Reason 6 – Accidents/Injury

You never know what is going to happen and so accidents and injuries are part of life. 

Getting injured can be so difficult to deal with. It depends on the severity of the injury and what part of your body has been hurt, some injuries heal, some you have to manage and some injuries are life changing forcing you to do things in a completely different way than before.

Looking for a job after such an event can be tough because you are dealing with the trauma of the injury, maybe you have to go through rehabilitation, deal with pain management and medication. Life becomes more complicated when you are also getting over an accident or an injury.

But don’t worry we have helped a number of people in your position

The key thing is not to focus on the accident. They might ask you during an interview and so you have to be ready with a rehearsed answer 

Some problems we have found we the people we help is that because you have had to focus on getting better – you have been away from work and not up to date with the current trends and practices. So we often focus on this when we are putting your CV together.

On top of that you also might find that you lose some confidence because dealing with an accident is a major thing. Like having a medical illness, your life may not be in your control for a while and you feel frustrated. Confidence is key and we aim to pump yours up when we work on your CV.  

Employment Gap Reason 7 – Family Issues

Taking time out to deal with family issues is more common than you think – maybe there is an illness, there’s a crisis, or a problem which needs your attention and you are the only one who can deal out. From a CV perspective, it depends on how long the gap is. If its a few months, then its not really worth mentioning, if the time out was for longer than, its will be worth adding a sentence explaining the gap and then make sure you know what you are going to say if they ask you at interview. Its important to be clear if the situation is resolved or its an ongoing thing. An employer wants to know if you can do the job and will the family situation interfere with the job

Real life example

Navinder (UK) said “My dad had a heart attack and while he was getting better there was no one to run his clothing business. I had been helping him with the business since I was little and so I quit my job in London and moved by to Birmingham to help out. On my CV profile we wrote:

  • Managed family business due to father’s illness. He is now fully recovered. Now, looking to re-enter the corporate brand/marketing sector

Employment Gap Reason 8 – Travelling

Taking time out to travel is great…for you ……but will probably not be relevant to a future employer – unless you can make it relevant. Think about what you did, who you met, what experiences you had – could any of these help to make your CV memorable

Real Life Example

Sarah said ” I took time off to travel with my boyfriend, we went to Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. To earn extra money I taught english to Vietnamese adults in the evenings. When I arrived back in the UK, I wanted to train as a secondary school teacher and I talked about my experience teaching in Vietnam. 

Employment Gap Reason 9 – Bankruptcy

If you have had your own business and it went bankrupt – this can be a 

Employment Gap Reason 10 – Sabbaticals

A sabbatical is a period of paid or unpaid time off of work that offers you the chance to return to your job role or something similar at the end of it. Whilst your benefits are normally frozen during this time (pay, pension payments, share earnings), usually you continue to accrue pro-rata related benefits. A standard time-period for a sabbatical is between 3 and 12 months. 

In our experience, sabbaticals can be used to travel the world, pursue a passion, volunteer in another country and in some cases it can be used to avoid burnout of a stressful job or situation. 

We have worked with a number of people who have taken sabbaticals and have wanted to update their CV because of their experiences 

The key is to focus on the relevant skills you have developed during the sabbatical.

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