Secrets in your CV
It’s important to read your CV like an employer/ recruiter will. All they know about you is what is in your CV & application letter. As they most likely don’t know you or your history, ‘blips’ or gaps will stand out and raise questions. Most of us haven’t had a smooth linear career so giving the reader a little context in your CV or application is useful if there are some ‘unusual’ moves.
Taking time out of the workforce is fine. Having a break in your career is often a good idea and can bring a renewed level of energy/ passion to your work. As a lot of us know, having children and working full time throughout their early years is a challenge, if not impossible. If you have taken years off to raise your children make sure you include them in your career history listed as maternity/ paternity leave. If you have taken time off to travel or care for a relative or friend include it.
Some people are just out of work for periods of time while trying to secure another position. Despite the fact that the job market is competitive and it can take some time to find a new role that you are happy with. Being out of work can be seen as a negative thing. The assumption is that people don’t leave a role until they have secured their next one. If your CV reads that you have had an extended break before you started another role it can leave the impression that you left the previous role unexpectedly. It’s a good idea to explain any gaps where you can or to fill your ‘gaps’.
Unpaid work it still work. Just because you are not working full time in your chosen career doesn’t mean you are not gaining valuable experience and learnings that you could bring to your next role. If you are studying, volunteering or helping out on an irregular project/ consulting basis, include it in your CV. It might seem irrelevant to the roles you are seeking to apply for but it all helps to round you out as a person.
Taking an unusual or left field role can also raise eyebrows. I’m not talking about a career change to another industry or profession. In this day and age that is not unusual and most of us will have a few changed in direction in our working life. I am referring to an anomaly. Either a mistake that didn’t work out for what ever reason or a short term means to an end something like that, for example going from being a pilot to a tram driver in a global pandemic may look odd but not if it is given context.
Making a move that doesn’t work out is ok (once or twice; more than that the reader will start to question your judgement). I am not a fan of leaving roles out of your CV, if it means leaving a gap. Having said that I do think it is important to address the fact that it was unusual and explain why. Usually in your cover letter you will give a very brief career overview, and this is where you should mention the ‘mistake’ or anomaly and why it is there. Saying something along the lines of ‘once I arrived it was clear this organisation/ industry wasn’t for me’ or if there where fundamental changes to the position or organisation that meant it was no longer what you had signed up for. All of these explanations are acceptable. They show the maturity to acknowledge when things are not working and move on. Occasionally organisations merge or go under not long after employing new people.
Taking a role that looks like it is ‘beneath’ you can also seem odd to a reader but in reality can sometimes happen. If it is simply an issue of the title sounding more junior, then you can always include the more traditional title in brackets or listing more senior responsibilities should sort out any confusion. If you have taken a more junior role to get into an organisation or simply because you needed to pay your bills you need to address it in your cover letter.
If you need a hand working out how to navigate a complicated work history in your CV and application don’t hesitate to contact us and we can help you smooth it out.