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How to Handle a Resume Gap Due to Covid

Gaps in employment history on your resume or LinkedIn profile are never a good thing. But what about now, when so many people have lost jobs due to Covid?

You may be wondering:

  • Is a gap after March 2020 really a problem?
  • What if you were already unemployed and the pandemic has made that gap even longer?
  • Should you mention the pandemic on your resume to explain the unemployment?
  • What else can you do to make it look better?

This post and its links will answer these questions and more.

An Employment Gap during the Pandemic

During normal times, recruiters may see gaps as red flags hinting that the job seeker may be “unemployable,” that they may they either lack skills or have severe personal problems. Gaps around spring of 2020 are so common as to be “the new normal,” although they should still be handled with care.

What if you had the bad luck to lose your job a long time before March, only to find your job search knocked flat in April?

One job seeker wrote to me (and allowed me to quote her) as follows:

“In late 2019 I took a five-month sabbatical. Once that ended, the first thing I started working on was my resume, LinkedIn, job search skills, etc. Then almost at the same time, the shelter in place order happened. Initially I didn’t do much except wait, since I foolishly assumed the SIP would be over quickly.”

What was initially to be a good, long vacation became a one-year gap. Fortunately, here too, recruiters will look with some understanding upon the situation. But it’s certainly not a plus.

Mentioning Covid on Your Resume

A resume is not the place to explain why any job ended. While Covid is one of the best excuses anyone could have for unemployment, mentioning it on a resume it can create an apologetic tone, detracting from the qualifications you’re trying to highlight. The same is true for LinkedIn profiles (although in the case of a lengthy break, you may want to consider the Career Break section). But do be prepared to answer interview questions about why your job ended and what you did during the gap.

There are better ways to reduce the negative effect of the gap. The person I quoted above began taking courses and doing pro bono projects, all of which she added to her resume. Within a few months she obtained a good contract role that has a good chance of leading, either directly or indirectly, to more lasting employment.

Your Best Job Search

If you have a gap in employment due to the pandemic and its economic fallout, there’s no reason to be embarrassed. But there is every reason to do your smartest job search ever. Plan a “best practices” job campaign, work your plan every day, take care of yourself, and you will land that next job.

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