Despite the fact that the UK is in the grips of a chef shortage, if you have a work history with gaps in it or have been prone to moving jobs frequently you’ll need to carefully present your experience within your CV to avoid being seen as unstable.
So, what do you need to do? Start by honestly evaluating your situation and determining how bad it really is. If you are panicking about two months of unemployment back in 2010, your job search for a new chef role isn’t likely to be affected. However, if you are dealing with recent periods of unemployment extending for months or even years, you’ll need to start building a plan!
If you’re concerned about gaps in your work history:
- Think about other activities you can use to fill that time period. Did you or can you undertake experience relevant to your target job, regardless of whether you’re paid. Volunteer activities, community involvement, special projects, consulting engagements and continuing education can all be used.
- Short gaps might appear less apparent if you eliminate months from your chefs CV (listing your employment by year instead i.e. 2015 – Sous Chef at Company ABC, Senior Sous Chef at Company DEF). Also, effectively use your personal statement to summarise your key achievements, goals and top qualifications to help draw attention to your selling points while downplaying your work chronology.
- If you’re returning to the workforce after an extended absence, show how you’ve kept up-to-date with changes in your industry etc – a great way to do this is to create a chef blog.
- If you’ve been out of work because you’ve been helping to raise a family, continued your education, cared for a sick family member or recovered from an injury, make sure the tone of your CV is not apologetic. There’s nothing wrong with being out of work for whatever reason, and a negative attitude might affect your CV’s quality and your overall desirability.
If you’re concerned about job-hopping:
- If you’re a freelance chef then obviously your CV is going to show lots of short periods of employment and job-hopping won’t be a concern to a potential employer. However, for other chef roles it may be a problem. The best way to handle job-hopping on your CV depends on your specific job titles and the companies you’ve worked for. You may be able to lump two or more similar positions under one heading (for example, Head Chef, ABC Company and DEF Company, 2/2014 to 2/2016). You can list your combined work experience highlights and if you’re a freelance or temp chef you should also consider grouping all your experiences under a single time period.
- You don’t need to include every chef job you’ve ever held. Short-term positions that don’t do anything for you can certainly be omitted. Keep in mind: Your chef CV is a marketing document and should be treated as such. You should however never lie on your CV and don’t forget you’ll need to provide a complete work history if you are asked to fill out a formal job application.
- Employers might be wary of hiring candidates with a history of job-hopping due to recruiting and training costs. Use your cover letter to explain your work history and put a positive spin on your circumstances. Also, indicate your interest in a long-term chef position to help alleviate any fears that a hiring manager may have.
What about a functional CV?
Many hiring managers say they prefer chronological format CV’s to functional format CV’s* as they’re often suspicious that functional ones are used to hide something. Our advice is only use a functional format CV if you have an extremely poor work background with extended gaps or a terrible history of job-hopping!
*Functional CV’s highlight your abilities rather than your chronological work history. You’ll still need to summarise your work history, but this is usually done at the bottom of your CV.
Accentuate the positive
There’s nothing you can do to change your chef work experience, so the best strategy is to develop a forward-looking CV that shows the value you offer potential employers. If you are sticking with a chronological CV format, lead with a well thought out and positive personal summary at the beginning of your CV that draws attention to your strengths.
Layoffs and downsizing: Quick tips to improve your CV
- Update your chef CV right away and be sure to showcase your recent achievements no matter how you may feel about your employer.
- Ask your former employer or colleagues to supply you with written reference letters. Consider including a positive quote from a reference letter in your profile summary or experience section.
- Read as many job adverts as possible to evaluate the skills and experience employers find desirable. Incorporate your matching credentials into your CV.
- Don’t misrepresent your employment status by indicating “to present” on your CV.
- Don’t write the reason for leaving on your CV, but do use the cover letter to explain your circumstances.
By using the above tips and suggestions you’ll be able to add a real boost to you chef CV and move one step closer to landing your next dream job.