5 Tips to Address Gaps in Your Employment History

Unexplained gaps in your employment history can raise red flags with schools, so it is very important to address any breaks in your employment history in your job application. 

You may have had breaks from employment for many reasons including taking time out to raise a family, illness or redundancy or you may have even been lucky enough to take a lifestyle break for a number of years to travel or pursue other interests. Whatever the reason for your gaps in employment, it is essential that you record these breaks in as much detail as possible so schools can be assured that these breaks have no nefarious connections. 

Gaps in your work history don’t have to be a barrier in you finding work if you follow the following tips: 

1) Be Open and Honest. It is vital that you are honest about the reasons why you have been out of work. This is to ensure that a school can assess your suitability to work with children and ensure that they follow Keeping Children Safe in Education. When applying for jobs in a school you will have to complete an application form so you will be unable to skate over any small breaks like you would be able to in other industries, so honesty is the only policy when applying for roles in education. 

If you have been out of work due to an illness it is also important that you are honest so schools can support you in the workplace effectively and make any reasonable adjustments should you be successful in your application. We explore how to phrase time off due to illness later in the blog, so read on to ensure you are confident talking about breaks in employment at interview. 

2) Showcase Transferable Skills. Have you undertaken any voluntary positions whilst you have been out of work? Have you done any online courses? If you have then shout about them! Not only would this show to employers that you used your time out of work wisely, they can also give you important skills which will help you in the world of work. Include as much information as you can on your application form about your qualifications and or experience, you can include courses in the qualifications section of our online application form or write about them in your personal statement

3) Has Your Career Break Made You Passionate to Work With Children and Young People? We often speak with parents that have taken time out of their careers to raise a family which has led them to seek a career in education. If this is you, then you need to explain all the skills you have gained becoming a parent or guardian and how these can benefit a school. Perhaps your child has additional needs which has led you to seek a career in special education. Or maybe your background is in professional services such as IT, Finance or HR. Schools have an array of office roles available so having these experiences, combined with a passion to improve outcomes for children, could really give you the edge over another candidate. 

4) Focus on the Positives. If you are shortlisted for interview then it is possible that you may be asked about gaps in employment at the interview. It is important that you are prepared to give an answer which not only addresses why you were out of the workplace but puts a positive spin on it. Here are some examples of how to phrase a gap in employment with a school:

  • I have had a career break for the last 5 years to raise my young children. Having time with my family has been a wonderful experience but now both my children are now in school and I am now ready to re-enter the workplace and use the skills I have gained as a parent to support teachers in the classroom as a teaching assistant.
  • Due to a recent ill health I had to leave my previous employment. I am now fully recovered and am looking forward to returning to my career as a primary school teacher.
  • I was made redundant from my last role as a Nursery Practitioner. I have spent the last year travelling and renovating my house and I am now looking to start a new role as a teaching assistant.  
  • I left my previous role as a teacher due to workplace stress. At the time I had several family pressures and combined with my workload I realised I needed to take a step back from my career. During the time I have been out of the classroom my personal circumstances have changed which has enabled me to re-enter the teaching profession. I am looking for a part time role which will allow me to maintain my work life balance and enable me to work in the job that I love. 

5) Ensure You Have 2 References. You may have been out of work for a long time but you will still have to provide 2 referees as this is a mandatory requirement as part of the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance issued by the government to schools. Therefore, you will need to provide information of your most recent employer and if possible a most recent employer where you worked with children.  If you do not have two previous employers you can provide one personal referee, examples of personal referees could be a religious leader, university lecturer, Head of Year at school, manager at a volunteering role or even a family friend if they can attest to your character and can confirm that you would be suitable to work with children.

Ensure you have found the correct contact details of your previous manager, employer or personal referees and that you can provide them on your application. Remember referees are contacted prior to interview with roles in education so it is best practice to let them know they will be contacted should you be successful in being shortlisted for interview.

If your gaps in employment have been caused by a criminal conviction then it may affect your suitability to work with children and you should seek further advice about whether you are able to apply for a role working with children before making an application. If you are still able to work in education then you will need to be open and honest about any criminal convictions by declaring these to the school if you are shortlisted for interview. You will be required to complete a candidate self-declaration form if you are shortlisted for interview and the school will perform online recruitment checks prior to interview. You will need to be prepared to discuss any criminal convictions that you have prior to interview or at the interview itself. Successful applicants are required to undertake an enhanced DBS check in order to work in a school or childcare setting.

The reason for application or personal statement is possibly the most important part of any job application. Your ‘Reason for Application’ is where you can show schools why you are perfect for the job, so it is important to take your time to get it right. Here are 10 tips to ensure your personal statement is the best it can be and give you the best chance of securing an interview.

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