Traditionally longterm gaps on a CV have been perceived negatively by employers and jobseekers. The expectation is that your early career path is usually one of continuous employment.
However COVID-19 has caused so many industries to be disrupted, with millions having lost their jobs, unemployment figures rising and new graduates struggling to find their first career placement.
Here are some positive steps you can take; not to justify any apparent gaps, but instead to view them as enhancing your skill set as a prospective candidate.
Be honest. If you were furloughed for a period, you were technically still employed. If you had temporary family commitments briefly state them. Your cover letter should explain what is driving your search.
Transparency does not mean you have to deliver a plea for sympathy, but if you had to alter plans during 2020 let them know this. You are not remonstrating your misfortune… what is important is that you are able to have boucebackability and identify an alternative approach.
Focus on skills developed whilst unemployed. You may have been involved with some charitable work within the local community during lockdown periods.
Demonstrate your resilience and show how you’ve utilised the time to benefit a future role. There are a plethora of free online skills workshops available via LinkedIn.
Take this time to thoroughly research and ascertain what you are interested in. Reach out for information via social networks or within your own friends and family. Really listen to what people have to say about their jobs to make an informed decision whether this is an industry or specific company to can see yourself working for.
Nine out of ten UK employees will have to reskill by 2030 as a result of the pandemic accelerating changes to the working environment (Confederation of British Industry report based on McKinsey analysis). Huge funding will be required by companies to prevent a future skills gap. Consider ways in which you can reskill and upskill independently to give you a head start.
Adjust your CV to allow for the current job market. Despite the rather blunderous and controversial government campaign (#Fatima), there is some validity in their underlying message that for now some industries are faring substantially better than others. Consider pivoting to another industry and highlight how transferable your skills are.
So what are transferable skills and how can you fully utilise their potential? Transferable skills make candidates stand out, even if they don’t have the requisite industry specific experience. Hobbies, voluntary and sport can all add weight to your transferable skill set.
Here are the top five transferable skills that employers are looking for, according to a 2019 LinkedIn survey:
Don’t be confined to believing that creativity is monopolised by the Arts. Creative thinking covers a vast arena and has a relevance to most roles. Be able to give an example of when you delivered a new inventive idea, an alternative solution to a problem or were able to think outside the box.
Can you illustrate your capabilities to being a team player? Are you able to convince people of your viewpoint whilst also empathising with their position?
Having people skills is usually based on the assumption that you are able to have meaningful conversations; interactions that leave you feeling engaged, inspired and connected. The most important element in being able to achieve this, is your ability to LISTEN.
Are you responsive to changing ideas, responsibilities and expectations? Show examples of when you stepped out from your comfort zone and displayed flexibility and an eagerness to learn.
The best leaders must be able to coach, empower and support those around them. It’s not all about how you took control and bulldozed others into your way of thinking. You must exhibit empathy and practice active listening, whilst also having the ability to inspire and convince others.
Make sure you have a high time perception, whereby you are aware of schedules and tracking time in order to conquer stress and not feel overwhelmed. Think productivity rather than hours spent. This will enable you to greater monitor your workload and meet deadlines on time.
So to conclude, a gap in your CV does not need to set alarm bells ringing to potential employers, on the contrary it should highlight your versatility and resilience. Fully document any volunteering and unpaid work experience, show that you are continuously developing your skill set and demonstrate that the gap was well used.
Don’t mind the gap, instead focus on the future and what you can bring to that specific role.