Tackling Gaps On Your CV

Worried your CV is looking a bit bare? Or wondering how to explain a period when you weren’t working or studying? We’ve collected some of our top tips on tackling gaps on your CV, so you can feel confident whatever you’re applying for.  

Filling gaps


Many students worry that they don’t have enough experience to put together a strong CV. Perhaps you haven’t yet undertaken any internships or formal work experience, and you’re concerned that this will stop you from putting together a competitive CV for graduate jobs.  Or maybe you’ve only just started applying for opportunities, and you’re feeling unsure about exactly what to include on your CV. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to address this:   

  • Communicate your existing skills more effectively: Whatever subject you study, your degree will have given you a variety of skills which are transferable to the world of work. Prospects’ ‘What can I do with my degree’ pages helpfully list the skills you’ll have developed throughout your studies, providing model language that will help you to communicate your value effectively.  
  • Develop and expand your skill set: There are so many opportunities to develop and expand your skills while at university beyond your degree studies. This could be through volunteering, student societies, work experience, Careers Service events, or extra-curricular awards like the Bristol PLUS Award. Visit mycareer opportunities to find the right opportunity to boost your CV.  

Remember that whoever’s reading your CV will be most interested in finding out about your skills and experiences, and understanding how these are relevant to the role they’re advertising. Whether you gained those skills and experiences in the workplace, through your degree, or by getting involved in extra-curricular activities is usually less important! 

Explaining gaps


You might have had a time in your life where you took a break from both education and employment for a few months or longer – for example, due to illness, caring responsibilities, or taking a gap year.  

None of these gaps should stop you from applying for any opportunity you’re interested in. Here are some tips on how to address these gaps: 

  • Include any unpaid work or skills development that you did manage to complete during your gap: This could include volunteering, online courses, blogging, or taking part in a mentoring or training scheme 
  • Use your cover letter to explain your gap: devote a sentence or two to explaining your gap, demonstrating any knowledge, insights, or transferrable skills that you may have developed during this time in a way that employers will appreciate: for example, did you develop your intercultural awareness during your gap year travels, or demonstrate resilience or communication skills while caring for a loved one?  
  • Be prepared to discuss your gap at interview: Employers may ask you about your gap at interview. This is something the Careers Service can help you prepare for, either through our interview resources on mycareer or by booking an appointment with us to discuss your personal circumstances.  

For further advice, both Prospects and Youthemployment.org.uk have useful webpages on how to approach explaining gaps on your CV.  

Remember that no matter what the reasons for your gap, you have skills that employers will recognize and value, and the Careers Service is here to help at every stage of the application process.  

Don’t forget, you can ask any careers-related questions via the Live Chat, or visit us in person at 5 Tyndall Avenue!