Posted On 2nd March 2014

I feel a bit like an air raid warden wandering through the streets with a whistle and a rattle and shouting “You can come out of your basements now! The bombers have gone away!”

I’m sure if you’re still looking for work or hanging on as a “self-employed consultant” earning a quarter of what you did in 2007 you’d doubt me very much indeed. It’s still an employer’s market and our recruitment processes are as dysfunctional as they ever were.

You might even be a bit angered by this statement. If so, I’m sorry, but the jobs marketing across much of the western (especially English speaking) world is warming up and may I offer a bit of hope?

What do I do about the gap in my CV? That’s a question I get asked a lot.

Gaps in CVs communicate to recruiters two messages:

  • This person’s been out of work for a while, probably been looking and no one’s wanted them. Why?
  • They’ve been out of the labour force and their skills have started to rot. They won’t be as skilled as someone currently working.

I understand a candidate’s fear and I don’t pretend it isn’t an issue. You should still try to paper over the cracks somehow. Voluntary works, personal projects, and, of course, “being self-employed” still have an important role to play.

However, I have a piece of good news for you.

Recruiters don’t care about gaps as much as they used to.

Now, obviously that’s a blanket statement but as a cohort recruiters aren’t as concerned. Why?

I spent a dozen years as a head-hunter, including the implosion of the dotcom bubble in the early noughties. Back then as companies were decimating teams I remember colleagues saying, “ah well, recessions are a good time to get rid of the rubbish”. Harsh and probably untrue, but very widely held as a view.

I don’t hear that any more. As far back as 2008 head-hunters were saying to me “we’ve never seen CVs as strong as this from people who are unemployed”. Then they got made unemployed themselves. I addressed a conference last week with the Head of Recruitment for a global retail bank, and she’s been made redundant twice.

Nothing changes your view of “the unemployed” as much as being one yourself.

By and large, most recruiters realise we’ve all been through a hell of a time. And it wasn’t our fault. Our talent is still there, and as the labour market warms up gaps will matter less than talent.

So, do still make the most of your time on your CV. Fill those gaps if you can. But try not to worry too much about them. Recruiters aren’t worrying quite so much anymore.

David Welsh

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