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Should I use a skills-based CV to smooth the gaps in my employment history?

Updated Friday, 24 August 2018
If you've had breaks in your career, a skills-based CV might help present your abilities in the best light.

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A visitor to 2012's Skills Show tries their hand at hairdressing

What is a skills-based CV?

A skills-based CV emphasises your personal qualities, rather than your employment history, and is a very popular format with mature graduates, or people who have had gaps in their employment for whatever reason. You should choose this sort of CV to emphasise what you have to offer an employer.

How can a skills-based CV help with the gaps in my employment history?

A skills-based CV is ideal if you have gaps in your employment history, because they are not as prominent as they would be in a chronological CV. However, employers are still likely to ask you about your career progression, so be prepared to explain any gaps at interview.

How can a skills-based CV help with my varied employment history?

If you have varied work experience, this type of CV provides the opportunity to show employers how skills gained in other types of employment might be relevant for the post.

What should I put on my skills-based CV?

You should include:

  • your contact details (name, address, mobile number, email address - and landline number, if you have one)
  • your education and qualifications: degree subject, class (attained or expected), modules studied, A levels (always with dates and grades), summarised GCSE/O levels or CSEs
  • a description of your key or transferable skills (identify the key skills required for the job and use these headings in your CV)
  • a summary of your work experience
  • your referees, who can be named or ‘on request’ (if named, ensure you ask their permission first)

You do not need to include:

  • nationality (unless you will need a UK work permit)
  • marital status
  • details and ages of children
  • your health status
  • school and university address
  • examining boards
  • minor qualifications unrelated to the post applied for

You can find further support with developing an effective CV as part of the Learning To Learn course 


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