Job seekers all know that a gap in employment is a red flag to future employers, but don’t dwell on this as much if the gap was caused by COVID-19. The majority of recruiters and hiring managers will not hold it against you this time around, especially if you’re working hard to secure a new position.
Here’s how you should handle a pandemic-related gap on your resume:
Be honest and upfront.
It’s no secret to recruiters that millions of great workers have lost their jobs this year due to the pandemic. If you lost your position due to COVID-19, there is no reason to be dishonest about this in your job search. The first step is to ensure that your resume isn’t misleading.
Laid off or let go? Make sure you update your resume with the accurate end dates before submitting it to future employers. Next to the end date, it’s okay to document in parentheses that you lost this position due to COVID-19 layoffs. Your cover letter is also an appropriate place to note this.
If you were furloughed, it’s okay to keep “to Present” as the end date on your resume, as you are technically still employed. You can add furloughed in parentheses to showcase your concern, while also showing that you are still wanted and valued by that employer.
Think: Where will your skills be best utilized in a global pandemic? If you worked in an industry that was hit hard by the virus, you may need to rebrand to make yourself desirable to other industries that are still thriving. Rewrite your resume and cover letter to showcase your top strengths that would benefit any industry. Be creative!
Use your time wisely.
Fill the gap! Have patience with your search and take on additional responsibilities in the meantime. Instead of preparing to explain in detail why there is a gap in employment on your resume, be able to explain how you’ve been using that time to develop and improve yourself professionally. Did you volunteer when your community needed you the most? Did you take an online class to learn a new skill? Did you assist your children with virtual learning, or care for a sick family member? Recruiters will want to hear that you stayed productive and adaptable during your unemployment period.
Focus on the things you can control.