You’re looking for work and you’re confident in your skills. But you have a problem. Whether it’s because of Covid-19, caring for your family, layoffs, or simply being unable to find work, your resume has a significant gap. You’re now left wondering if your resume gap will or is already preventing you from finding work. What can you do?
It’s possible you don’t need to worry at all. Due to Covid-19, many employers are less likely to stigmatize employment gaps. If you were laid off directly because of Covid-19, you probably won’t face any stigma. 96% of hiring managers said they would hire a candidate laid off due to the pandemic. Supporting a sick family member or taking care of the children, who were likely at home instead of in school, are perfectly valid reasons for an employment gap. Maybe you were just laid off and couldn’t find employment for months or even over a year. That’s okay too! You were a part of mass layoffs due to Covid-19 downsizing across the world. Being honest about your gap will likely build rapport with the recruiter.
But you may be more concerned about non-covid related gaps. Your company had non-pandemic related layoffs, you had to leave a job for personal reasons, or you’re looking for your first job and the search isn’t going as well as you thought it would. These are okay too! The most important thing for your interview is to be honest with the recruiter or hiring manager. The consensus amongst hiring managers and executives is to own the gap. Taking ownership over it shows initiative. Let’s say you left your last job because you were treated poorly, or it simply wasn’t a fit. Tell them you are looking for a job that contributes to your growth. Again, taking care of loved ones or volunteer work are also good reasons for an employment gap.
Don’t let any employment gap define you. Especially if the ultimate reason for your unemployment is because your last three interviews didn’t work out—job searching is a great excuse for having an employment gap. What are you trying to accomplish? What is it you’re looking for in a job? What kind of work are you interested in? Doing what you love most during the job search protects you from employment gap stigma. They won’t get the impression you’re lazy if you tell them all the exciting things you’ve been up to lately. You have hobbies, aspirations, or things you are interested in that will make you interesting to a recruiter regardless of what’s on your resume. If they were interested enough to invite you for an interview, then you can sell yourself.
Finally, and most importantly, be confident in yourself. Unemployment can be really discouraging. Feelings of inadequacy can set in whenever interviewers or even worse—when you begin questioning your employment gap. Own it. You are more than your work and you are capable. You have insights and experiences no one else in the world has. A little confidence and a smile can do more for you than the narrative you make to explain the employment gap on your resume. Going into your next interview, remember that you’re a professional with unique skills and they’re interested in you.