Chef CV gaps

Handling Chef CV Job Gaps

Editor’s note: Handling Chef CV Job Gaps was originally published in July 2020 and most recently updated in May 2022.

A break in your chef employment history can be for a broad range of reasons. The pandemic’s impact on the hospitality sector around the world means job gaps on chef CVs are much more likely. But do you know how to handle them on your CV? Let’s consider.

Handling chef CV job gaps – what counts as a gap?

Most potential employers won’t even notice a gap that is shorter than a couple of months. While you might be asked to explain a shorter gap, it’s unlikely. As a general rule of thumb, be prepared to explain any gap of three months or longer.

Gaps from a long time ago are also less likely to be questioned. Employers tend to be more interested in what you’ve been doing recently as a chef.

Focus on the present and the future

Setbacks, pauses, breaks, dismissals – pandemics even – can be a part of anybody’s work history. There’s nothing you can do to change your chef work experience on a CV, if you’re presenting a true, accurate and concise summary of your skills and career to date.

It is what it is and it’s important to present it as such. Keep the primary focus of your chef CV on what you can bring to a potential employer now.

Try to stick with a chronological CV format, as recruiters routinely rate this format higher than any other. Putting together a well thought out and positive personal statement at the beginning of your chef CV will draw attention to your strengths, and sets an upbeat tone.

Read: Chef CV Writing Tips

Explaining your chef CV gap on paper

If a gap is very long, very recent or both, its necessary to explain it on your CV. This helps a hiring manager to quickly understand it. And hopefully, as quickly, move past it as the reason not to interview you. 

It’s important to address a CV gap with confidence and professionalism. It’s not necessary to write a paragraph-long explanation. A brief, one-sentence summary is sufficient. For example, ‘I was made redundant from my long-term position as Head Chef at ‘Food & Drink’ when the company downsized due to the impact of Coronavirus.’

Handling chef CV job gaps – a gap due to Covid-19

No employer worth its salt will hold a CV gap due to a global pandemic against you.

Your long or recent CV gap is much less of a big deal than you fear if you’ve had job issues due to
Covid-19. LinkedIn surveyed hiring managers on this point and a heartening 96% said they would look past a Covid-19 gap on a CV.

If you’ve put your Covid gap to good use and gained skills, certificates, voluntary or community work experiences that have kept you in touch with the industry in the interim, then include this on your CV.
It’s worth following your one-sentence summary with a short paragraph giving detail about how you filled your time away from a workplace.

This shows your focus and determination to remain a career chef. That’s always going to catch a hiring manager’s attention when looking through the applicant pile.

Compass Chef Recruitment

A CV gap due to illness, injury or disability 

If you are explaining a long or recent CV gap due to illness, injury or disability state that simply and matter of factly. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against your CV due to a health-related CV gap.

A chef CV gap after being fired

If your long or recent CV gap was a result of being fired we would always advocate honesty. Let’s face it. Chefs do get fired. It’s a busy, pressurised job. It requires excellent time keeping, relentless laser focus, stamina, skill and self management, coupled with a need to deliver business results. It’s a hard job and sometimes a set of circumstances make it untenable for a chef to remain in their post. 

We can’t promise that some employers won’t hold it against you. But we still maintain it’s best to be honest. Describe briefly what happened, acknowledge the role that you played in it, and focus on what you have learned from the situation and would do differently next time. Some employers will look past it and be impressed by your honesty, especially if you show reflection and self-growth as a result of the experience.

Handling chef CV job gaps – always remain optimistic

If you have a job gap on your CV it is not given to be a deal-breaker in the current jobs market. In fact as that 96% statistic earlier attests, if your gap is Covid related it’s an issue for a tiny percentage of current recruiters. Even if it isn’t a Covid related job gap on your chef CV it still doesn’t have to stop you from making applications.

Read: Get Yourself an Elevator Pitch Chef

Don’t fixate on what you can’t change and let unfounded fear or anxiety around a job gap interfere with your mind set and self-confidence.

Just get clear as to how you present it to the hiring world, and if necessary practice how you would explain it to others during a call or at interview.

The more comfortable you are explaining it away, the less of an issue it will be for you and for others throughout the hiring process. Focus on the positives and projecting how all those little wins in your past work history add up to making you a strong candidate for the chef job in the present.

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