Addressing An Employment Gap (Covid Related or Otherwise) on Your Resume
This blog post originated from a conversation on the e-list group of my professional organization, Career Directors International.
Returning to Workforce After an Absence:
The discussion was about good strategies for stay-at-home-moms who are transitioning back to the workplace to account for that time gap on their resumes.
Of course many people are going to have one due to covid job losses, too, now. Honestly, if any employer questions a job gap in 2020 you don’t want to work for them, IMO. It’s just too obvious and too common to wonder or worry about, I mean come ON.
Covid Lay-offs / Absences
Still, the following input will apply to how to account for any gap, a covid layoff one included.
Care Taking / Health
Clients of mine have repeatedly asked how to address time gaps due to caring for health issues of elderly parents, or children with special needs, even themselves.
Travel / Relocation
I myself have a few time gaps in my career years ago (not so much anymore), but for a different reason. Being a bit of a vagabond by nature, particularly when I was younger and unclear on my career path, I took several extended international trips lasting 2 – 6 months that were always followed by a transition/relocation period.
You can also check out my YouTube video about this:
Sometimes it’s a personal tragedy, such as the sudden loss of a partner or child that keeps people from working for larger chunks of time.
What to Do About the Job Gap
Whatever your reason, the consensus amongst my peers, which I have also advised my clients over the years, is that:
1) many many people have a gap for some reason during their careers and
2) it’s important to not leave that gap unexplained on your resume.
It’s best to foresee the employer’s question and address it briefly in a way that satisfies their concern/curiosity, but doesn’t give away too much information, or information that sets them or you up for legal issues such as discrimination.
Give yourself a “job title” to explain your activities & follow the same format as your work history.
Do include any career related activities you did during that time, such as taking a related class or workshop, or applicable volunteer work & any associated accomplishments.
Here are a few examples of how others have addressed their work gaps:
FAMILY LEAVE, Crystal Lake, IL, 2007–Present
Temporarily out of workforce to manage family commitments. Completed project management (PMI) courses. Earned PMP credential.
Professional Sabbatical, St Petersburg, FL, 2004 – 2005
Took time off to pursue personal goals and relocate to Florida. Served as volunteer at local food bank during this time as well.
My own resume used to say this:
International Travel/Relocation, 2000
Explored culture and history in: India, Sri Lanka, Great Britain and Ireland. Relocated to Portland, OR.
Remember, it is not wise to mention anything specific about children, period. The law is that companies are not allowed to ask about kids, day care plans, etc., but, I know I’ve had interviewers ask me whether I have kids or plan to have kids. Don’t bring it up yourself for sure!
You may have read that you can take stay-at-home mom activities and use them as “transferable skills” – such as scheduling, budgeting, organization/multi-tasking & these types of examples. While you can try that, it is stronger to list experiences or activities such as training, volunteer work, or contract projects that are more directly relevant to your job search.
Additional Notes about Covid Related Gaps
If you were out of work because you got covid and were quite ill, I think I’d be cautious about sharing that detail.
Unfortunately, companies can be wary of health conditions and also unfortunately, there are questions about long term health impacts for some covid survivors.
We’ll see how employers are responding over time, so stay tuned.
It can be tricky figuring out how to address a job gap
on your resume by yourself.
I’ve strategized how to address these concerns for hundreds of clients:
Here’s my YouTube video about this:
Be sure to SUBSCRIBE & “Like” the videos while you’re over there!