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 organisations 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 CV. 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.
You can continue to show leadership skills beyond a job title, such as signing up to be a mentor for an organisation 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 could also check with your school or university about alumni/student mentoring programmes you can join. Becoming a mentor can be a valuable addition to your experience and CV.
There is no shortage of ways to reskill and upskill with online education and courses, and not having a full-time job can provide more opportunity for growth in soft skills. This could include communicating, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, being well-organised, collaborating or the ability to analyse and innovate. Employers are seeking these skills more than ever as they are broadly applicable across many job titles and industries.
Consider volunteer roles that add expertise and knowledge to your toolkit. 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 fulfilment 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 CV during recent months, 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.
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