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For most people, the resume is the gate-opener to a new position. Hiring managers filter through piles of applicants, selecting resumes with key terms and applicants with certain credentials. Most often, a gap on a resume is an obvious indicator of job loss, but if the time period is longer than a couple months, it can raise more of a red flag to a potential employer. 

In a normal year, a gap on a resume demands some sort of explanation that suggests an investment in personal or professional growth, or a dedication to a job search (a full time job in itself, right?). But what about the year of Absolute Unpredictability and Unforeseen Circumstances? 
Our answer: employers will be more forgiving, but you'll still need some reasonable explanations. We have some ideas on how best to deal with it.

1) Address it in a cover letter.

Don't focus too much on the minutia of the situation, but a quick acknowledgement of a gap can leave an impression of transparency and honesty, qualities both highly valued in an employee. Layed off due to COVID-19? The timing alone will likely indicate the reason your employment ended, but you can provide a simple mention so a hiring manager clearly understands. "Company downsized," or "position was eliminated" are great phrases to explain that your job loss was unrelated to your performance.

2) Put an end date on your employment.

You might think leaving a "-to present" as an end date for the latest position on your resume is the easiest way to avoid addressing a resume gap, but as they say, "(dis)honesty is (not) the best policy" (They say that, right?). References, googling, etc might reveal your untruth and leave you in a less than favorable light with an employer. 

3) Be honest.

If your children now require homeschooling, say so. If you were caring for a sick relative, say so. If you were navigating an overloaded job search market, while balancing child care, home schooling, COVID testing, grocery shopping, all while being masked and without hardly leaving your home ever? ... Still say so, but maybe in a somewhat condensed version. 

Employers understand the merging of personal and professional selves in today's climate and are much more interested in hearing that you've been volunteering to sew masks or drop off food for front line workers, or mastering 4th grade math with your daughter than trying to believe you've only been applying for jobs 8 hours a day for the last two months.

You can be playful with how you mention this on a resume, giving yourself an important title and indicating actual professional skills that apply. Say something like "Homeschool Teacher. Managed educational projects and food intake for small internal team of two. Collaborated with educators, analyzed results and strategized on future endeavors." Find a way to see the applications for professional growth in this phase, even if seems very distant from your career.

4) Say SOMEthing about professional development.

Even if you're balancing the world on your shoulders during this pandemic, attend a handful of free webinars so you can claim to be working on your career in some capacity. Taking an online course even one hour a week allows you to say you haven't been neglecting your professional self (and also, allows you to actually not neglect your professional self). 

Spending some time reframing your time away from a job can be a challenge, but investing some thought into its relevance in your professional life can be beneficial for your future. Including an explanation of a gap on your resume is a valuable action to take when applying for a new job. Trust us, employers are understanding during this time. 

Posted: 1/4/2021 9:18:41 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments