Hi there,

I am not a manager but after listening to Manager Tools for a few years I know I would like to be one. I haven't been able to do anything about this in recent years but I think I might soon be able to.

I am 30 and am just starting a new job search. My problem is that my CV is patchy and has some gaps. There are good reasons for this.

I graduated in 2005 and had a job in political campaigning for 2 years and then a further similar unpaid position for a further two years. During that time I got married. Since then, my wife has suffered from a debilitating long term mental illness and we have had two children. I have been unable to pursue a 'proper' career as I have had to take large time out from work and take part time work in order to look after my family. Things are improving as my wife is getting better and in the autumn our youngest will be old enough to enter full time childcare. I now want to start a new career in a new area. I know my relevant experience is limited so I will probably need to enter at graduate level, which isn't a problem for me.

So, enough context, here are the questions.

1. Do I need to mark on my CV which jobs are/were part time?

2. Do I need to say that the job that was unpaid was unpaid? The job was full time, in an office, and I delivered exceptional results (top 5 performance UK wide). My thinking is that this is every bit as valid experience as it would have been if I was getting paid. I just don't want to risk any prospective employer thinking I am trying to mislead them.

3. Should I explain the two large gaps (6 months and 12 months) in my employment history on the CV itself, or in my cover letter? 

4. Anything I could or should say to convince an employer that I have good reason to be applying for graduate jobs 8 years after I graduated.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Kind regards,


wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge

To answer your questions in order:

1) No
2) No
3) No, just have an answer for when you're interviewed.
4) You'll probably be better off looking for 'entry level' jobs rather than jobs aimed specifically at 'graduates'. What kind of work are you looking for? I may be able to give you some more specific guidance with that information.

In the meantime, start working on your network. Anyone who has done something 'non-traditional' needs extra help from their network, and it sounds like the troubles in your life have probably limited your ability to build yours. Start that now.

You're in a more difficult, but absolutely doable situation. To steal a saying from Mark - you sound pretty frosty. Stay that way :-)


kevoc's picture

 Hi Wendii,


Thank you very much for taking the time to help me out. I really appreciate it.

Now I have your answers I feel very comfortable with my CV. I've been listening to your recent casts on people's resumes to help hone it down.

I'm looking at recruitment as this is an area that really interests me. Today, I followed your advice and started reaching out to my network. Within an hour I was exchanging messages with an old uni friend who is in recruitment (I hadn't realised this before). He said he would be happy to help get me an interview at his firm. Unfortunately their offices are the other end of the country from me, but it was a very positive start. He also said he will think if he can help me in other ways.

I will crack on with building my network tomorrow :)

Thanks, again.