One of my friend has a 2-years gap after completing his PhD in 2014, gap due to personal reasons, family-one mainly.
He is now trying to get a postdoc position in electro-engineering. To me, this two-year gap is hard to justify as he has not produced any relevant papers, nor really gained much sought skills as he had to take care of his family.
I'm not familiar with academia but I'm familiar with recruitment in tech. I advised him to find an angle where he can put his two-years gap in a way that would work for him, instead of letting this 2-years gap being an hindrance.
My question is the following:
Except to be involved in side projects or do side researchs that he can put on a cv, to help him find a postdoc, are there any other things he can do to make his cv better and make this 2-years hiatus less visible?
Many thanks for your feedback
Universities are often very aware of the equity issues facing academics (usually women) who have career gaps due to family responsibilities such as maternity leave. A two-year hiatus is not ideal, but rather than trying to hide it in a CV, it might work in his favour if he lists it explicitly in his CV, e.g.: 2014-2015: career hiatus due to family care responsibilities.
If he can be clear about what these caring responsibilities entailed, all the better, as people reading it will be more inclined to believe he is not bullshitting. E.g. 2014-2015: career hiatus to to family care responsibilities (primary carer for our baby, now in day care) or (caring for a terminally ill father) or (unavoidable primary care for a mentally ill sister, now recovered). It will probably help if he can make clear that these care responsibilities are now over, but if not, it is still worth being up-front.
If your friend can add to this by showing evidence of relevant activity during the hiatus, this will help too. Activity could include publishing papers from his PhD or adding to his skills by completing Coursera courses.
While looking for an academic position, your friend should also, if possible, improve his CV by working in a voluntary position in a research group -- perhaps the group with which he did his PhD or someone to whom his PhD supervisor can recommend him. This can usually be listed on the CV as an "adjunct" or "visiting" academic position. While acting in such a voluntary position, he should make sure he impresses the people he is working with to get favourable reference letters and should aim to be doing publishable work.