The COVID Resume Gap

Thank you Don Effler and Matt Hernandez for collaborating on this article.
Jan 15, 2021
Don Effler
Don Effler
Lead Recruiter
Resume Help

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The COVID 19 pandemic has affected every American in some way or another. From an employment perspective, it’s estimated that 22 million Americans lost their jobs in March and April of 2020. Between mandatory shutdowns or layoffs/slowdowns due to poor economic performance, many people found themselves without a job and a bleak job market. If you’ve lost your job during the COVID19 crisis, and have had a hard time finding a new one, you may be wondering how the gap in unemployment will affect your job search now and in the future. In this article, we help explain how to address the situation and answer the dreaded question; “can you please explain this gap on your resume?”

 

Why do Hiring Managers look down at employment gaps?

As a recruiter, it’s an everyday conversation between candidates and Hiring Teams in uncovering/addressing certain gaps between jobs. Yellow or red flags used to be thrown if you left a job without having another lined up, or you were unemployed for 3 months. And the hard part is, sometimes we job seekers don’t always have the opportunity to explain ourselves. Perceptions and bias happen almost immediately when scanning a resume, some recruiters take 20-30 seconds at first glance to determine whether or not they want to pass you along to the next steps. Having a gap in employment can have a tendency to infer lack of ability, wasn’t hitting the bar or able to operate at certain levels. People create biases that may or may not actually be true. 

 

If you seem to be getting rejected at the resume submission phase, consider making a few tweaks to your resume or in parentheses explaining to the reader what may have caused the gap in employment.(Sabbatical/travel, family, position eliminated due to covid, etc). 

 

How to present a gap in an interview

With everything that has transpired, it seems as though there is a greater sense of empathy and understanding to gaps in employment. As mentioned above, before all of this, a 2 – 6 month break can give the interviewer the perception that “oh well something must be wrong, or maybe this candidate isn’t that good.” An effective response to any gap in employment during the covid pandemic can be a simple “my position was eliminated due to financial struggles from covid”. 

 

If you feel comfortable, you can also explain how Covid has affected you specifically. For example, taking care of children or loved ones may not have allowed time to work or find a new job. Also, if your specialization is in an industry that was particularly impacted (travel, hospitality, dining etc.) you’ll want to explain that the job market has been limited in those areas. 

 

Now let’s take it a step further, showing any future employer that you took meaningful action during your time off.  For example, highlight that you’ve taken the necessary time to assess what your next move is going to be.  Maybe traveling, being with family, learning new skills/receiving certifications, networking and applying yourself to get as many interviews as possible shows adaptability & perseverance. 

 

How to illustrate a gap in your resume 

As a rule of thumb, never lie on your resume. Don’t present yourself as still employed if that is not the case. This can have consequences down the line, especially during a potential background check.  Have your resume reflect your accurate dates of employment. If the Covid19 situation has caused you to be unemployed for an extended period of time, you may want to add a brief note on your resume explaining your employment gap was a result of Covid19. This may answer questions employers have about the gap and prevent them from dismissing your resume because of it. 

 

How to address a Gap on Social Media

Losing a job and being unemployed is not something people usually like to advertise over social media. As Covid19 has affected everyone in the United States, there is more empathy and less stigma for people who are unemployed. Don’t be afraid to be vocal about your job search and how Covid19 affected you and your desire to re-enter the workforce Writing posts on LinkedIn or Facebook about your situation may catch the eye of a potential new employer who may be able to help. These posts should try to be positive and reflect your desire to find something new in your career. 

 

How to attack your job search during your Covid Gap

Regardless of the Covid19 situation, job searches are challenging and require a diligent plan of attack. Preparing your resume, reaching out to your network and selecting the companies you apply to are always important steps to finding a new job.  For more tips and tricks relating to resume enhancements please visit our website at Careerwell.io. 

 

Recap

This year has been different and there is a lot that is out of our control. Embracing the times, which means doing our best to adapt and give it our all. As we experience the implications of Covid together it’s important to have empathy as an employer, as a candidate, and to family and friends. In some sense there is a heightened level of unity when it comes to understanding business went down, people lost their jobs and the gap in employment will not be as scrutinized. As our economy continues to strengthen the opportunities will soon follow as some are experiencing..so you’ll want to be ready to crush your interview when the time comes.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to either Don Effler at deffler@hirewell.com or Matt Hernandez at mhernandez@hirewell.com. 

Don Effler
Don Effler
Lead Recruiter

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