2 office women smiling
More employers are shifting to the belief that one's employment history should not discount someone’s abilities.

Traditionally deemed a resume taboo, gaps in employment are becoming increasingly normalised. In some instances, gap years (also known as career breaks) are most commonly used for travelling, parenting or re-charging.

Adam Nicoll, the group marketing director at UK-based recruitment and job-consulting firm Randstad, said that recruiters were once "taught to treat any CV gaps as a red flag."

"Employing people is risky – there's jeopardy everywhere. A spell between jobs would be an area for scrutiny: to check if you're employing a safe pair of hands for the role."

On the other hand, Bridgette Hyacinth, CEO and founder of Leadership EQ, was shocked when a highly qualified candidate she had recommended for a role was rejected due to a five-year gap in her resume.

According to Hyacinth, the feedback given to the applicant "was very disappointing," considering she had taken the break to be a stay-at-home mum to her first child.

Hyacinth highlights that the candidate had not hidden the fact that she went on a sabbatical and even mentioned it on her resume, calling it a "professional sabbatical to care for my family."

In a post on the networking site LinkedIn, Hyacinth wrote: "Shouldn't a GAP in employment be expected at some point in one's career? If a candidate has the right skills and attitude to do the job, shouldn't that be enough?"

While career gaps can still lead to rejections, there has been a hike in recruiters who welcome lengthy gaps in employment.

LinkedIn Post about Career Gaps
Brigette Hyacinth shares her recruiting concerns in a LinkedIn post that's gone viral

"Missing time in a CV is now generally met with open curiosity rather than an assumption of a person's poor performance or reliability," said Jill Cotton, a careers advice expert at the company-reviews website Glassdoor.

During the 2020 pandemic, which led to severe budget cuts and furloughs, many employees were laid off and left without full-time jobs.

In the two years between 2020 and 2022, an Office for National Statistics report revealed that more than 1.7 million economically inactive people in the UK were looking for work. From December 2023 to February 2024, the number of job vacancies in the UK fell for the 20th consecutive period, according to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics.

As businesses announced budget cuts and waves of job cuts in the new year, those who have had their contracts terminated have turned to freelance or changed industries.

Despite Brexit implementing long-term travel restrictions on Britons, the lack of job openings and the current cost of living have also pushed graduates to take a break from employment during a "gap year" instead.

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) estimates that around 200,000 to 250,000 young people in the UK, aged 17 to 27 years old, take a gap year each year.

Charlotte Davies, a consumer communications and career expert at LinkedIn, said: "We're seeing an increase in people being transparent and honest about having a gap in their CVs, and why."

"It's showing that a career break can offer an individual new skills, fresh perspectives and a renewed sense of energy when they return to the workforce."