People take breaks from their careers for a number of different reasons: for example, to raise a family, to travel, to volunteer, or simply because they were made redundant and didn’t find a new job straight away. Despite the fact that most of the time the rationale behind the gap in a CV is perfectly valid, for many hiring managers, it raises alarm bells that could see your application dismissed straight away if not explained appropriately.

Honesty and disclosure are almost always the best policy when it comes to anomalies in your work history, and that starts with your LinkedIn profile. Here’s how to position your time out to ensure potential employers consider your submission.

Short-term breaks.

This is the one exception to the disclosure rule. If your time away from work spanned less than one calendar year, your best strategy might be to simply show only years in the ‘Experience’ section of your profile. You’ll find a drop-down menu for both, but it’s not mandatory to include months. You will, however, need to be consistent throughout your experience history to avoid raising questions in the mind of recruiting managers. And when it comes to the interview stage, be prepared to discuss your time out.

Longer-term breaks.

Parents face the dilemma of whether or not to include parental leave on their LinkedIn profile. Equally, the idea of adding a sabbatical or mid-career break to your online resume can seem daunting. However, an obvious break in experience can leave a question mark in the mind of potential employers. It’s much better to be upfront about the gap in your timeline, and see this as an opportunity to let people know what you learned during your time away from work.

In the ‘Experience’ section, you will typically state your title and employer for each position you’ve held. This is a little less straightforward when it comes to describing your time out of work.

In the job title box, add a short snappy explanation of what you were up to on your break. If you were taking parental leave, ‘Full-time parent’ should suffice. Alternatively, a pioneering campaign by agency Mother New York – The Pregnancy Pause – allows job hunters to list ‘Mum’ as their official job title and ‘The Pregnancy Pause’ as their employer. For a sabbatical or career break, position your time out as intentional, purposeful and valuable. Pick out an activity or project that you worked on during your break, for example, ‘Volunteer English teacher’ or ‘Post-graduate student’. If there is an organization you worked with during this time, use this in the employer box.

Personal Summary

Your personal summary is an opportunity to explain, in your own words, the reason why you took a career break and the value the experience brought to you. Emphasize what you learned during your time away and, if you are coming back from a break, explain what has prompted your return to work and why you feel you are ready. Outline the new skills and abilities you’ve picked up due to the experiences you’ve encountered. Most importantly, be clear about what you are looking for from the next stage of your career, and what you have to offer a potential employer.

Your career gap doesn’t need to be a barrier to finding a great new job. Being honest on your LinkedIn profile, highlighting the value of the timeout and positioning your intentions clearly to recruiting managers will ensure your application doesn’t get overlooked.

Kate Jones writes for Inspiring Interns, who specialise in matching career starters with graduate jobs. For everything from analytical roles to marketing internships, click here.

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