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When you’re applying for your next offender health job role, you may be conscious of any career gaps that may appear on your CV. There are many reasons why a nursing professional may choose to take a career gap. It may be planned (such as taking time to raise a family) or it may be an unfortunate necessity (perhaps a result of unemployment) but what is important is that it should not be regarded as a negative – either by employer or employee.

If you are selected to attend an interview, then it is important that you can honestly explain any reasons for any lengthy career gaps on your CV.

Here are our tips for how you can explaining any lengthy absences in your offender health CV.

Taking time to look after family

Taking a career break to raise your children or to look after a family member is one of the most common reasons to take time out of the workplace. But when you want to resume your career, the question is how to best address that gap to a potential employer.

The first step is to draft a new CV and make it as relevant as possible for the role you seek – after all, there may be experiences you have acquired whilst away from work that are relevant for your planned new job.

You may wish to use a ‘functional’ CV format, rather than a ‘chronological’ CV format. This is where you focus upon your strengths and experiences, rather than basing it on a date-orientated format. If you go with this style, make sure you demonstrate your clinical experience, your certifications and start the CV with a summary of your qualifications.

If you do have a career gap, then make sure you can explain how you’ve kept up to date with the latest news and information regarding offender health. If you’re working as a registered nurse, you may wish to see what advise is available from the Royal College of Nursing. For instance, their careers centre provides valuable resources for anyone working as a nurse, whether it’s in an offender health setting or within the NHS or private sector.

Highlight your new skills

If you find yourself simply unemployed, stay positive and be professional when explaining your reason for unemployment to an interviewer but keep it brief. Being candid about the reason for leaving your job (without being negative), will show employers you are ready to return to the workplace.

Where possible, focus on what you learned through being unemployed, and how you applied yourself.

You could mention the transferable skills that you may have acquired during unemployment; and discuss how you improved your time management skills by balancing your day between writing cover letters, editing your CV and other job-hunting activities; or evolved your personal interests.

If you’ve spent any time volunteering or working for local community groups, this information could be valuable on your CV as it could demonstrate you as a ‘go-getter’ and you may have picked up new skills which could support you in your new job role.

Travel gap year

Rather than a travel gap year being seen as a negative, forward-looking employers will be quick to see the benefits of someone who has gone off, travelled and broadened their horizons.

It’s a fact that being away sharpens your skills and initiative – when you are half-way across the world and things go awry, there is generally only one person who can sort it out, and that is you. It is those learning experiences that will ultimately make you stronger and set you apart in the workplace when you get back.

Think about what skills you may have picked up which could benefit you – for example if you learnt new language skills then we would definitely recommend including this detail on your CV.

If you have experienced a career break and you’re struggling to address this on your CV, why not speak with one of Sanctuary’s trained consultants? As well as providing details of the latest offender health job roles, they’ll be able to offer advice on how to make the most of your CV.
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