A Sabbatical Must Not Spoil your CV. Here's How you Can Explain the Gap

A resume is primarily a sales document, highlight everything that will sell you at your best

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In the fast-paced, cut-throat competition-laced work environment of today, taking a break from one’s career is not something unnatural. Rather, it is quite common. The reasons can be far varied and many — be it motherhood, family reasons, ill health, education, travel or pursuing a lifelong dream — and people often take a sabbatical.


However, such a break is still not very well accepted by employers. The trick is to write a CV in such a manner that the employer looks past your break and hires you for who you are and the skill sets you possess.

To ensure a smooth transition back to work life, here are some tips on how to specifically write a resume and what to include in it, once you are back from your break and looking to find a job.

  • Anticipate What you are Getting Into

Times are fast changing. Even if you were on a break for a short period, the market might have undergone a sea change and the skills earlier required for your job position could have changed, too.

The best way to achieve success is to do your research about your preferred jobs and find out what kind of skill sets they require. This would also help you familiarize yourself with market dynamics. You should also consider re-skilling or updating your past expertise to bag that ideal job.

Once you have identified what lies ahead, you can start exploring and weighing your options. By educating yourself, you will pick up industry jargon and keywords which you can then put into your CV.

Connect and network with people in the industry, create a profile on career re-entry job platforms, or network on sites like LinkedIn. You could also join the Networking groups, which can boost your confidence and increase your positive motivation. 

Such networking groups understand the low confidence threshold that women on a break are struggling to cross, because all of them have been there and can relate to each other.

  • Accept your Sabbatical

Don’t hide your sabbatical. Having un-clarified gaps in your CV will make the recruiter question your entire job application. Address the career gap concisely and do not make it up or hide it. You don’t need to get into too much detail. Just write a short title that explains your break, for eg, Motherhood, International Travel, Family Care, Professional and Personal Development, MBA, Medical reasons, etc.

It is also an important opportunity for you to showcase what you have done during your absence. You can put down things like: attended workshops or training related to your industry, undergone training in a new technology, attended seminars, meetings or workshops related to your industry, etc.

  • Introspect and Leverage

During career breaks, people often develop new skills that add to their existing skill sets. Some also use this time to get a higher education degree. This helps.

Think about what new skill you have picked up that you can add to your resume to make it stronger. Maybe you have volunteered for something, worked as a freelancer or a consultant, contributed to an agency or even traveled to the country, where your prospective employer’s head office is located.

At the end of the day, a resume is primarily a sales document; therefore, highlight everything that will sell you at your best. Whenever you get confused as to what to put in the CV, ask yourself, “Is this selling me?” Assess the quality of your CV and only include those qualities, which are selling you in a positive light.

A career break will stay with you for your entire life span, so make sure you highlight all your achievements and outcomes that you have achieved before your break as well.

  • Keep Moving Ahead

If you are going for an interview after a career break, prepare yourself well for questions that will be asked on your past experience as well as the break that you have taken.

Also, highlight how that particular experience will support you as you move forward. An interview is the best instance when you can highlight how your readiness to take on new challenges. Be frank about your break and why you are ready to return to work.

Focus on how the skills and attributes you developed during your break will make you a stand-out applicant.

The emphasis should be to get creative and not hide that gap. Instead showcase what that gap did for you and what you bring to the table as a highly-valued, high-touch, highly qualified and experienced employee, ready to join immediately.

These are different, unique, and gentle (yet hard-hitting) ways to get an employer/company to sit up and take notice of the person that the document represents.

Neha Bagaria

Written By

Neha Bagaria is the Founder, CEO JobsForher. Founded on March 8, 2015, connecting portal that enables women on a professional break to restart their career. Neha graduated from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, with honors and triple majors in Finance, Marketing and MIS.

During her final semester there, she became the College Board Representative of India, and founded her first company – Paragon,and introduced the Advanced Placement Program to Indian students. Neha has worked with Kemwell Biopharma, where she handled the HR, Finance, and Marketing aspects of the pharmaceuticals manufacturing business.However, despite experiencing positive growth and development with Kemwell, she felt that her passion for social entrepreneurship remained stronger than ever.