Let’s face it. COVID-19 hit the whole world either directly or indirectly. Millions of jobs were lost across the globe, irrespective of the size and nature of the industry. Despite the experience of the professionals, the employment gap due to COVID-19 is now the new normal. The challenge for professionals is to handle the career gap due to COVID-19 effectively and rebounding with confidence when applying for the next job.
Employment Gap – What is it?
An employment gap occurs in one’s career when the person is not employed full time. The reasons for an employment gap in one’s career could be plenty – ranging from personal to professional.
Either you must have taken a break to take care of your children, or left the high-paying job to pursue a Masters you have always been dreaming of. Also, it could have happened that you being a fresher did not land the right job even till six months after you graduated. Recruiters count any career gap up to six months as a job search period.
Under normal circumstances, a career gap may give an impression that you lost the job for being an underperformer. A too-long gap in finding the next job might also give the impression that you are not potent enough to find the next job. It might also appear to recruiters as if your technical skills are outdated and hence you are not able to fit in the current market trends.
Related: Healthcare technology trends 2021
Career Gap due to COVID-19: The New Normal?
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the world witnessed as many as 400 million full-time job cuts by the end of June 2020. If you are one such professional who lost your job as your industry/company was hit with the pandemic, you should now realize you are not alone in dealing with the employment gap due to COVID-19.
A piece of assuring news if you are worried about your employment gap due to COVID-19 is the gap may not sound as threatening as it would have under normal circumstances.
With the whole world now having passed through two worst hits of the Global Economy in recent decades – the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic – recruiters and companies are now more empathetic than before.
So, when hunting for your next job:
- What should be your approach to tackle this employment gap due to COVID-19?
- Should you cover it up or talk about it?
- How to make sure that this gap does not impact your reputation as a professional?
Here are some ways how you can handle the employment gap due to COVID-19 effectively.
Revitalize your resume
Career gaps may look scary on a resume. The employer name that you mark bold and highlight with pride in general, disappears for the time being because of the employment gap due to covid-19.
Your resume might look like it was stuck in a time-machine and is not moving any further into the future. And hence the employment gap due to covid-19 can certainly disappoint anyone. Especially, if you had a long and successful career, tackling the career gap might get on to your nerves.
Hence, it is imperative to revitalizing your resume to make the employment gap due to COVID-19 appear less daunting.
To achieve this, here are some tips that you can follow:
Push your employment dates to backstage
Give enough emphasis on the brands you were associated with and your contribution to their growth. For instance, you can do this in your resume:
- ABC Corp, Assistant Manager, starting Jan 2016 (2 years 6 months)
- XYZ Company, Manager, starting Oct 2020 – till date
Notice that there is a gap in between in this example and it is not much visible predominantly. Hence, if you do not want the gap to dominate your professional strengths and experience, there is no harm in following this strategy as long as you stay transparent during the one-on-one conversation.
Related: How AI can change recruitment?
Focus on the latest role just before your layoff
Highlight your professional stamina and accomplishments before being laid off.
For instance, you could say, “Led and managed an award-winning team of 20 members involved in designing a metric tracking system, before COVID-19 layoff.”
Add every detail that you did during the career gap
We are not mentioning that you add the number of movies you watched on OTTs while at home during the employment gap due to COVID-19.
Maybe you worked as a volunteer in a local organization and helped it raise funds. You would have learned some new skills online and gained certifications. Chances are that you took up some gigs to keep your bank balance running.
In other words, you should include any work that you pursued during your employment gap due to COVID-19, be it paid or unpaid.
As long as you were not sitting idle and kept doing some productive work that had an either direct or indirect impact on society and your profession, you can include it to fill the gap in your resume due to COVID-19.
Apply for jobs that are in demand
The pandemic has had a harsh sectoral impact, not leaving any industry untouched. Fortunately, most of the sectors are regaining their previous shine and are looking for new talent to boost their business.
Thus, while applying for your next job after the COVID-19 layoff, search for jobs in the industries that are in an active hunt for talent.
If the industry is altogether a new one for you, tweak your career objective. Craft it in such a way that it should explain how your past professional experience would help you perform in your next role.
Industries are on a constant look for multi-talented professionals; this is hence a strategy that would work out positively.
Utilize the strength of your professional network
The power of networking needs no introduction. You can use your professional network to make a career move after your job loss due to COVID-19.
It might happen that most people from your network might also be in a similar position. However, checking for suitable roles that they might know is not a bad idea.
Besides, you could even ask them to acknowledge your strengths and drop a positive remark about your professional skills on your professional social networking sites. A little help is better than none at all, don’t you agree?
Related: Recruitment Trends 2021
Staying positive in tough times is a virtue. If you can master it, you are ready to knock the door of success.
Let your resume talk about your resilience and eagerness to take on new challenges. Explaining the circumstances that led to your lay off and how strong you are to bounce back in contributing to your best, in your cover letter is a fabulous idea too.
Do not display over-enthusiasm nor undermine your potential as an experienced professional. If you can strike the balance here, you can catch the attention of the recruiters.
Hopefully, the impact of pandemics on the job market could help erase the stigma around the career gap caused due to genuine reasons.
Thus, instead of feeling guilty for it or undervaluing yourself, be open and transparent. Next to your recent job that has been lost due to the ongoing crisis, add in brackets that the job loss is due to the COVID. And there is nothing to hide, plus it adds to your credibility as an honest employee.
Accept the truth with grace and display your honesty upfront while conversing with HRs. Note that recruiters deal with many candidates and can make out who is honest and who is not.
Choose your employer
The whole picture around jobs and careers is shifting tectonically all across the globe. Employers, recruiters, and companies are now more considerate than before while dealing with career gaps. Thus, you can expect greater empathy from your next employer.
For instance, freelance and gig jobs that were not counted as full-time employment experience, are now being recognized as potential professional experience, with more and more companies and governments understanding their need and potential.
So, if you had taken up a gig job or worked as an independent contractor during your career gap due to COVID, your employer should be empathetic enough to count it as a professional experience.
Well, they didn’t? Congrats, you can move on to a better employer and apply for another job. Who would love to work with an employer who is not considerate enough to understand the global crisis?
Remember that these unprecedented times gave a choice to the employees to choose their employers too.
Still not finding a dream job after all these efforts? Well, do not let the employment gap due to COVID-19 decide your fate.
Start afresh by choosing any exciting job that crosses your path. It could be a gig or a part-time assignment. It might also be a full-time role in an entirely different domain. Maybe the job is paying less than your earlier one did.
Whatever the role, type, and pay, say hi to it, go ahead and take it up. In these times, having a job that pays and gives you an ‘employed’ tag should count more than its pay or the domain. Who knows this new job could kick off the next brightest chapter in your professional life?
Related: Emergence of Gig Economy
Who are we?
At GigMinds, we are dedicated to building a platform that brings job seekers and recruiters together.
GigMinds is more than a job portal. You can find thousands of jobs of all categories – full time, part-time, gigs, and project-based – from across any domain and horizontal.
All that you need to do to welcome a new breeze into your professional life is to register on the GigMinds website and start searching for a job that can give you your next career break.