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Anyone looking for a job knows that big gaps on their CV between finishing one job and starting another can be a red flag for employers. The temptation is often to tweak lengths of employment to extend employment periods and minimise the gaps, but it this really a good plan?

Most employers now have a detailed process for checking out the backgrounds of the people who are going to work for them. This might include asking you for a DBS check if you are working in a position of trust, or basic identity checks to make sure of your immigration status in the UK. Another part of this process is fact-checking your CV, and it is at this point of the process when any gaps in your CV might become obvious.

Studies suggest that a significant number of CVs aren’t factually correct. In fact, up to 80% of CVs have been found contain either slight exaggeration or downright lies, potentially leading employers to hire unsuitable candidates. The growing issue of CV fraud has led to many recruiters beefing up their checks on CVs and looking into any employment gaps.

Understanding Employment Gaps

An employment gap just means a period of time between jobs which the candidate has left unaccounted for. Minor gaps of a few weeks or a couple of months are commonplace, and nothing to worry about. Extended gaps—beyond a few months—may raise concerns for employers. Gaps exceeding a year tend to be viewed as much more serious and something which an employer will usually want to investigate.

Why Employment Gaps Are Concerning

Employment gaps can make employers suspicious about what candidates were up to during periods of unemployment. Failure to demonstrate what you were doing during a lengthy period of unemployment may shed doubt on a candidate’s work ethic and personal drive. Gaps might happen for various reasons, including criminal convictions, termination from a previous job, or innocent scenarios like career breaks, travel, maternity leave, or health issues.

Rather than leaving long periods unexplained on your CV, explain what you were doing during the period away from work. Employers are interested in people who fill their time effectively – so if you were volunteering or learning a new skill during the time you were out of work, tell them that on your CV. Don’t be tempted to lie about dates of employment to cover gaps or claim a job which you didn’t have as this is more than likely to be discovered.

How Gap Analysis Works

Employees will usually take the information on a candidate’s CV, or from the application form they have submitted, and will then contact their previous employers to ask them to confirm dates of employment and position held. The two sets of information will then be compared to see if there are any discrepancies.

Benefits of Performing a Gap Analysis

A gap analysis reviews a candidate’s prior experiences, performance, and qualifications. Longer gaps revealed on a CV without a good explanation can prompt questions about employability, potentially revealing conflicts with previous employers or a criminal history.