Have a gap on your resume? Be honest when applying to jobs.

Posted December 17, 2020 by

By Joanne Meehl, owner of Joanne Meehl Career Services

It’s no shock that this year, many who’d rather be working have a gap in their work history. But employers know that it’s the desired employee who does something useful despite pandemics and other unexpected career interrupters. They respect the “where there’s a will, there’s a way” attitude.
Now that you’ve experienced a gap and have recognized it as such, start filling it so that it’s not getting any longer. What courses can you take on LinkedIn, Coursera, your local community/state/private college’s online course offerings? And how might you volunteer remotely for a favorite cause? What kind of paid work can you do remotely?

A question you will probably get is, So what have you been doing with your time? When I asked a new grad, someone in exactly this situation, “What have you been doing since losing your job?”, at first he said “Nothing”. 
But then told me of the books of this one author that he’d been reading, well on his way to reading them all. And how he gave some ideas to his former employer on setting up a curbside delivery service for meals, then helped him with marketing and also updated the restaurant website to show this new service and did some other updating of the site. And how he’d established an Instagram page for his college’s photography club, which meant he was dealing with lots of people every day. 

So we honestly wrote these up, for 2020, from the present back to the spring, as:

  • Cafe-Restaurant’s name, city — Marketing Specialist for Curbside Service Project, May – Present, 2020— Consulted to the owner on how to set up a curbside delivery service from scratch, then discussed marketing ideas, all leading to enough activity and income to keep the restaurant “above water” during the most closed-down time of the pandemic— In the heat of the summer, researched and found a source of outdoor heaters that enabled the cafe to remain open outdoors in the cold weather, owner negotiated a good price, restaurant is open while others had to close— Curbside delivery is continuing even when the restaurant has been able to have dine-in business — Updated restaurant website for these new services, and other updates designed to appeal to a younger crowd
  • ABC College Photography Club, September – Present, 2020– Instagram Specialist— Established Instagram page to showcase club members’ photography— Extensive interaction with over 25 photographers in the college and town— Leading a research project into creating Zoom backgrounds that can be sold
  • Reading Project: All the Works of [author’s name], May-June-July 2020— Challenged myself to read [author’s] novels and poetry collection, something I had wanted to do since taking American Lit II in 2018— Led (and lead) discussions with family member’s book group (12 members, using Zoom) in the author’s work.

While not a “real job”, this kind of activity is much better than “nothing” since March 2020, when it seemed everything changed.

So don’t underestimate activities like this, that have led somewhere positive. Talk with a career coach about how to substantiate various activities, without them looking fake or exaggerated. Better to be honest about the work, paid or not, so a potential employer sees how you made the best of a bad situation. They will respect that attitude!

Joanne Meehl is the owner of Joanne Meehl Career Services and also known as The Job Search Queen. For more information or to book a time, go to http://www.joannemeehlcareerservices.com/store.

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