How to explain a period of unemployment on your CV/Resume

Monday, November 17th, 2008 - career change, career management, CV Tips, CV Writing, Employment, how to make a cv, How to Write a CV, Job Application, job search, professionalism, redundancy, tutorial


Unemployment on CV

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Eoghan OLionnain

Kim asks: I retired from the military in 2005, having served honourably for 25 years. Since that time I have been going through a very expense divorce that just finalized. The legal fees drained my nest egg so I now find myself having to dust off my CV and get back in the work force. Will the 3 years break in employment be a turn off to potential employers? And how do I acknowledge/explain the break in my resume (and job interviews) in the most positive manner?

In answer:
Simply Kim, as long as you have a fair and clear explanation as to why you want to work, and why you didn’t work for that period; then as long as you pick the right jobs that match your skills, no employers will not see the break as a turn off.

One thing many ex-service people think is that the fact that they did serve will be a deterrent to future employers. It is not, as it shows a commitment beyond the call which all employers want – the problem at present is with those who are signed up to the Territorial Army or the Ranger units. The real problem for many ex-service people is showing that their military skills can be deployed into high street employer requirements; and secondly showing they have made the transition to civilian life – around one in five don’t, and many HR managers are aware of this statistic.

The key here in explanation is to be honest, but – don’t get to close to the emotions, and be clear in your statement that the period is over and behind you, and that you want a new challenge. For instance:

“I spent the time dealing with some personal business, and now that it’s resolved, I’m looking to re-enter the workforce.”

You don’t need to go into too much detail, but it’s important that what you do say is honest. However, does this statement close the issue, and explan the why back to work question? If you have some bad news or a situation to deal with in a CV/Resume, try to package it between positives, such as:

“I served in the military for 25 years. Since that time, my spouse and I have divorced and having spent some time travelling, I am now eager for the opportunity to re-enter the workforce into a job which will engage my X skills.”

This sandwiches the negative (time out), between two positives (25 years service, wanting to work), and leaves the reader with a reason as to why you want to work now.

Good Luck!

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