For the first time in more than a decade, a single historical event has affected millions of careers at once. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted not just jobs lost, but also career trajectories for those who were expecting to move up in their organizations or find new responsibilities.
The good news is that the large-scale change in work situations has helped change how employers think about “career gaps” on the resume. It’s no longer just about taking a step back in a career –– it can also be seen as stepping up to help families and communities. As a result, LinkedIn has updated profile options to elevate “stay at home parent” roles or sabbaticals for family leave. Here are other ways job candidates can rethink and reframe their job gaps, especially in light of the COVID-19 impact.
Become a mentor
You can continue to show leadership skills beyond a job title, such as signing on to be a mentor for an organization or an advisor to a start-up. If you want to be a mentor, finding the right mentee is a lot like the other side of the equation. Network and talk to key people in your company or network about the type of person you want to be a mentor to, and be specific. You can also check with your alma mater about alumni/student mentoring programs you can join. Becoming a mentor can be a valuable addition to your experience and resume.
Keep improving job skills
There are no shortage of ways to re-skill and upskill with online education and courses, and not having a full-time job can provide more opportunity for growth in soft skills. This includes communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organized, collaborating and the ability to analyze and innovate. Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across job titles.
Step into volunteer roles
Consider volunteer roles that add expertise and knowledge to your tool kit. Use volunteering as an opportunity to try something new, perhaps a career you always wanted to explore. You may find it as exciting as you dreamed, or it may lack the glamour or fulfillment you envisioned. Follow your passion – when you are giving back to something you believe, it is much easier to learn new skills.
Ultimately, employers will be much more understanding of gaps in your resume during this past year, given the circumstances. At the same time, this is an opportunity to keep learning and growing –– and find what you really want to do in your career.