There may be up to a million people with a “gap” in their resume from either being furloughed, a short-term or permanent layoff, or a move to part-time status. If this has happened to you, the objective is to explain your resume story in a compelling way that moves the hiring manager to contact you for an interview. How do you do that? Here are some thoughts:
- First off, recognize the fact that you’re not alone. Hiring managers will understand the issues and implications that Covid-19 has played on the world of work. There is no need to feel less deserving than anyone else.
- Identify those actions you took while on leave. You’ll be at the top of the list if you took a skill expansion course on-line or received a higher-level certification in your area of specialty. You’ll be at the bottom of the list if you were a coach potato watching reruns of old TV movies. What you did with your time and the quality of your efforts is one of the most important factors that hiring managers look at in candidates.
- Another key factor is that your new or expanded skill or experience has transfer value across the industry you are pursuing. Taking a course or certification in accounting is less important if you are in sales (although it can’t hurt) than if you become certified in forensic accounting while pursuing a career in finance.
- Assuming you weren’t terminated from your company “for cause” or performance, be upfront and honest with a potential hiring manager. Giving a falsehood will not move your candidacy forward and can cause termination.
- If you’ve been furloughed, you’re still an employee. When defining your work dates, give your hiring date and “to present”. Example: May, 2018 to present. During the interview you can then say, “My current company recognizes my past contributions and wants to bring me back as business increases, which is why I am on furlough and not in layoff status”
- Demonstrate that you have taken accountability for your career direction. Give examples of volunteer work, community support or contributions you have made in the form of writings to professional publications. The story should be that you’ve made the best use of time during this transition that can benefit you and the new organization.
- If you’re moving into a new industry, demonstrate the transferability of your skills and experiences in a new and contributive way. Show different ways of attacking a problem or alternative way of approaching an issue. Examples may be: Attracting new customers, retaining existing customers, providing customer service in a more effective way, or using technology to expand the customer experience.
- Focus your job search toward companies that are experiencing a high demand for new workers: Applying new technology, healthcare, customer service, or delivering a service.
Having a gap in your resume doesn’t have to be a problem. Show how your new skills are transferable to the new situation, creating value.
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