How to Explain a [Hole/Gap] in Your CV

When talking about your past, is there any difference between using the word “hole” or  “gap”?

When running a course, I don’t often correct anyone’s English.

In fact, just the opposite – when starting out, I emphasize that everyone sitting there is about to get a grammar-free experience. We’re not back in grammar school English class, and thank goodness for that.

Yet what stood out during last Monday’s CV/CL course in Bergen was the number of men and women who pulled me over to talk because they were worried about the “holes” in their CV.

Holes meaning the times in their life they weren’t active in the paid workforce for whatever reason. Illness, unemployment, children, caring for a loved one.

Their anxiety about this is understandable, as it’s a widely held belief that hiring managers look so negatively at these “holes” that they won’t hire anyone who has them.

The thought then struck me that they were translating too directly from Norwegian, moving from “hull” [roughly pronounced ‘hool’] to “hole”.

Why does this matter when we know what they mean?

Well, maybe it does this time around.

I asked them if instead of thinking of a hole – which implies something black and bottomless out in space, or something you fall into that you can’t climb out of – could they instead think of the times they were out of the paid workforce as “gaps”?

Implying a short distance between points, one you can step over to get to where you want to be next in life.

So that if asked by whomever is hiring you if you can explain why you have this/these on your CV, you can easily reply: “I was [fill in the blank with whatever it was you were doing] while I was looking for my next job.”

You’re not sorry, you’re not embarrassed, you’re not ashamed.

You’re just explaining to someone across the table how you were filling a gap in your life with some activity that was meaningful for you.

What can that someone do but nod in agreement and understanding with what you’re saying?…

…and move on to the next question.

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