Job interview

How to explain a COVID-19 gap on your resume

by Tina Collins, on November 17, 2020
You are far from alone. Between mid-March to the end of June, Americans filed nearly 49 million new unemployment benefits claims. That’s a lot of resumes with a lot of gaps.
Most potential employers are going to be at least somewhat understanding about the impacts of COVID-19.
Applying for a job when you have a COVID-19 gap
There are a few ways to talk to a potential employer about your COVID-19 unemployment.
  • Include a note on your resume.  Next to the departure date in your employment history, state "laid off due to COVID-19."
  • Mention it in your cover letter. A cover letter can give you more space to offer detail. But don't dwell on your unemployment; focus on your skills and what you bring to the job.
  • Save it for the interview. Keep it simple. You were laid off, not because of your performance but because of COVID-19. Then move on to talk about getting back to work.
Even though it's a common predicament, a COVID-19-related gap may not be dismissed with a shrug. If you had weeks or months of unemployment, what did you do to self-improve? You want to be able to tell a possible boss that you used the time to learn a new career skill or brush up on your professional know-how.
Suppose you used the time to tackle personal ambitions, such as learning a new hobby, reaching a fitness goal, or tackling home improvement projects. In that case, those are things that can impress an interviewer by showing that you are pro-active and resilient when times are tough.
Updating your LinkedIn
LinkedIn has added a company page for “The Coronavirus Job Gap.” Members can list this page as their employer under "Experience" during a period of COVID-related unemployment and use the listing to share what they did during the gap. Many employers look at LinkedIn before calling candidates for interviews, so this could be one option to get a step ahead of questions about your gap.
Things you don’t have to tell a potential employer
You do not have to tell prospective employers if you left a job because you had COVID-19 or if, at any time, you have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Your medical history is private.
You also don’t have to explain in detail if you left your last job to care for a family member or because you didn’t have childcare because of COVID-19.

Job search help
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Tina Collins

Tina is a Human Resources Specialist for the LandrumHR Staffing division. She is a military spouse, and has a sincere passion for helping veterans and other military spouses find jobs!

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