As the economy slowly recovers from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans who have gone months, or maybe even a year, without employment are on the hunt for new job opportunities. This means, that in the midst of updating their resume and cover letter, many individuals will be faced with the challenging task of trying to address a gap in their employment history.
While some job-seekers may be inclined to fabricate an excuse when discussing this gap, Facebook's head of global recruiting Miranda Kalinowski says her biggest advice to individuals is to be honest and "explain it," especially since many hiring managers are aware of the pandemic's impact on the workforce.
"Don't apologize for it," she tells CNBC Make It, "and don't try and cover it up."
Instead, she suggests that an individual takes the time to think about how they spent their days when they weren't working so that they can assess what new skills or knowledge they picked up.
"It might not be immediately obvious the connection [certain skills] have to your work," she says, "but, more often than not you can develop a narrative around it."
For example, if "you spent time at home tutoring, or did some community development, or learned a new set of virtual skills, these are all things that you want to shine a light on as you're explaining a gap on your resume," Kalinowski says.
Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for resume writing service TopResume agrees. In fact, when coming face-to-face with an interviewer, Augustine says one of the worst things you can do "is have no explanation at all" for your employment gap because hiring managers often want to know why you were unemployed and what you did during that time.
Even if you are "unable to say you were volunteering or consulting," she tells CNBC Make It, you still "want to tell the hiring manager something reasonable" so that they know you will be a valuable asset to the company. This, she says, can be something as simple as joining a professional organization to show that you're up-to-date on what's happening in your field. Or, it can be reflecting on any freelance projects you did while you were out of work.
Regardless of how you spent your employment gap, Kalinowski says, you should never be ashamed to discuss it because the "skills and knowledge you amassed over time" can still make you a standout candidate.
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