Explain gaps in work history

Gaps in your CV or employment history are times when you were not employed. Get advice on how to tell employers about these when you’re applying for a job.

Applying for a job

You may have gaps in your work history that you’re not sure how to explain on your CV or application form. You may not have been able to work due to personal circumstances, or because you chose not to work for a while.

Having a gap in your CV doesn't have to be a problem when you're looking for work.

The important thing is that you’re ready to explain what you were doing during any gaps. Be open and honest. Concentrate on the skills you gained, and what you have learned from the experience.

Education and skills

Think about how you’ll talk about the way you spent your time, and any transferable skills you’ve gained.

For example, you may have done some short or online courses. Even if you do not think it’s relevant to the job, it shows you’re willing to learn.

If you took a year out after college or university, concentrate on the experience you got from a gap year.


You may have been out of work as a result of a disability or health condition. Seek specialist advice via our job support if you have a disability.

Breaks from work

If you took a career break, state why you took time off from work in the application form or cover letter. The employer can ask for more information in the interview.

For example, you may have taken time out of work to raise a family.


Outline the business decision to make your role redundant, rather than you as a person.


‘Made redundant between July 2021 and February 2022. The company merged the role of sales and accounts manager to reduce costs’.


It’s better to talk about a dismissal at the interview, rather than at the application stage.

If the employer asks you about a dismissal, give a brief explanation of:

  • the circumstances at the time
  • what you have learned from the situation
  • how you have improved since


If you have a gap in your work history because of a conviction, you need to check whether your conviction is spent.

Get advice from organisations like Nacro on telling employers about a criminal record.

Speak to an adviser

If you need more advice for your circumstances when applying for a job, speak to an adviser.

Related content

Redundancy and losing your job

How to write a CV

How to write a cover letter

Filling in an application form

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