With large gaps in your work history the employer might think that you’re unstable, unreliable, unmotivated, undesirable, undedicated, you have personal issues, that interfere with your ability to do the job; you’re not up to date; you were in jail, rehab; you were doing drugs, drinking; you were collecting unemployment benefits and started looking for a job when the benefits ran out.
The less you see the more frightening/intriguing it becomes. It’s like with horror movies, they are scary as long as they don’t show the monster and let the audience imagine it instead. You should definitely show the “monster” (and try your best to clean him up a bit). The truth is, that if you don’t fill the gaps, the recruiter will fill them for you.
Two Ways to Hide Gaps:
1) When listing your employment history use only years instead of months/years. This will completely hide any short-term gaps. And there’s another plus too. Your CV becomes easier to read and looks neater. You should consider doing it even if you don’t have gaps in your work history (unless otherwise instructed).
2) When writing down your work experience the general rule is to go back 5-10 years or 3-5 jobs. Therefore if you have an older employment gap you can leave it out altogether.
Two Ways to Address Gaps:
1) If you have a recent gap, create a new CV section with the heading RELATED/OTHER EXPERIENCE (depending on the content). Make a list of your activities during the time you were unemployed. Write down everything you can think of (you have time to edit later). Here are some ideas, so it’ll be easier to remember what you actually did. Travelling, volunteer work, freelance work, internships, courses, business ventures, maternity/paternity leave etc.
Of course the best variant is if your activities are in relevance to your job objective. So if you’re seeking a position in the travel industry, then independent travelling will be an advantage. Another possibility is to identify any transferable skills acquired from the different activities that are applicable to the position you’re seeking. For example: you successfully handled all of the family money for 5 years as a full-time parent, i.e. you can keep financial records.
2) It’s tricky if you actually didn’t do anything. Well it’s never too late. Start searching for opportunities (volunteer work, internships) to improve your situation. If it isn’t possible for whatever reason, create a CV section – SELF DEVELOPMENT. You have to prove that you continually updated your skills and therefore remained marketable. It’s important to read professional journals and specialized books. Write down how you kept current on the latest developments in your chosen field.