It’s becoming increasingly common for people to have a gap in their CV after taking some time away from their careers. One of the most common, and one that continues to challenge professional women, is maternity leave.

Women who have taken time off work often struggle to explain that gap to potential employers, who will ask why you weren’t working during that period. Of course, taking time off work to bring up your children is important and challenging work. Knowing how to best present that career gap or maternity leave is essential to getting back into your career.

Should you include details about your maternity leave or career break on your CV?

If you left your job to give birth and then remained out of the workforce, you will have a gap in your employment history. The first thing you need to decide on is how you represent that gap and if you should provide the details of your maternity leave on your CV.

However, If you were on statutory maternity leave then you were technically still employed for up to a year and it isn’t necessary to represent that as a gap. If after this period you decided not to return to work then your employment would terminate at the end of your maternity leave, which would then begin a gap in employment.

Depending on the timing and length of your career break, it is possible to obscure it with your format. If you were only out of work for a few months, then by changing your employment dates to just the year, the gap shouldn’t be noticeable. Don’t lie about the dates, but you also don’t need to draw attention to the gap if it’s not in your best interests.

How do you present a career break or maternity leave as a positive

Of course, taking time off to raise your children isn’t something to be ashamed of and can actually be presented as a positive to potential employers. Don’t be tempted to use clever euphemisms to pretend that your months or years raising your children was an actual position, for example, CEO of your own family. Instead, focusing on how you used the time to continue developing your skills, volunteering, doing community work, or working as a freelancer can make that gap in employment look like a plus.

Focus on your skills.

One way to deal with a large career break is to make your CV more skill-focused rather than on your experience. Make a list of the skills you learned or continued to develop during your time out of work, and then expand on the most relevant to your chosen career. This lets you

show that you used your career break to enhance your value as an employee and that you are still committed to your career.

College Cliffs recommends taking online courses to upskill and stay updated in your field, demonstrating proactive self-improvement on your CV.

Include any community work or volunteering

Be sure to include any non-professional activities or positions you took part in during your career break. For example, anything, like raising money for a charity or coaching a school sports team, can show that you have used important skills that a potential employer will appreciate. It also shows that you remained active and committed to using your skills.

Don’t forget freelance work

Any kind of freelance work, short term projects or consulting should go on your CV during your career break. They are a great way to enhance your CV and help mitigate your career break. Like the suggestions above, they also reinforce the fact that you have continued to use and develop your career skills.

Focus on your value

Finally, the best way you can help present your time away from work is to emphasize the value you would bring to a potential employer instead of focusing on your time away. You should show that you deal with change well and will provide continuous value to your employer.