Laid Off During Covid-19? Here’s How to Explain a Covid Gap on your CV

The economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic erased gains made to reduce unemployment around the world. Even the strongest economies lost decades of efforts made to reduce the levels of unemployment. For instance, according to statistics published by the Office on National Statistics in the UK, the number of employees on Payroll fell 652,000 between March and May 2020.

Some sectors were worse hit than others, like the Entertainment industries, accommodation, and travel. Some industries will require more time and effort to get back to their pre-pandemic level.

Not All Lost

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. With the aggressive vaccination of populations worldwide against Covid – 19, things are starting to look up.
Unemployment statistics by Eurostat, found that the unemployment rate was 7.6 % in July 2021 compared to 8.4 % in July 2020. The EU unemployment rate was 6.9 % in July 2021, compared to 7.6 % in July 2020.

Though no economy has fully recovered, employment levels are beginning to increase in some parts of the world. For organisations, having come from such a difficult season, employers will not hire just anybody. They want the best in the market that will help the organisation attain a faster turnaround. And no organisation wants to waste time and money hiring the wrong person for the job.

Talent Shortage

On the flip side, there is no shortage of talented individuals looking for employment. Because unemployment levels are still high, there are a lot of technically qualified and experienced people out there looking for work. This means those looking for employment have to package themselves to stand out from the masses of applicants.

Job applicants have to put their best foot forward to get the correct position. One of the pains you may have when applying for a job is explaining the months they’ve spent out of employment. You may then have the dilemma of how to explain why you lost your job, why you haven’t got another one since then, and what you’ve been doing to qualify you for a job.

explain The Gap

It seems that it should be obvious to employers that due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, lockdowns and reduced trade across most sectors (among other challenges), caused loss of jobs. You may feel that employers should understand this and require you just to indicate the gap rather than expect you to explain it. Maybe you expect them to ignore it altogether.

Perhaps not all employers will demand an explanation but some will, and you need to be ready for both scenarios. Here are a few reasons why that COVID Gap in your CV may need to be explained.

  • It’s not anything to be embarrassed about or ashamed of. It’s a situation out of your or anyone’s control. This should make you confident in talking about it.
  • It could make your CV stand out above the others. Try and think of it from the employer’s perspective. A CV detailing, for instance, online courses that one took during the unemployment season will stand out more than one that says nothing about that period.
  • Eliminating suspicion as to why you lost your job could build confidence in the prospective employer. For example, demonstrating that the gap was unavoidable due to the industry challenges brought about by the Pandemic establishes that you didn’t lose the job because you were one of the poor-performing employees.
  • You have a great opportunity to show the employer that you’re resilient and can be innovative in the face of adversity. It’s an opportunity to show them that you know how to turn a negative situation into a positive one. Most employees are looking for this kind of attitude in their employees.

Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do remain positive about your experiences on your CV or interviews. During an interview, for example, try to appear as having come out stronger or share lessons learned from the situation.
  • Do share your achievements over the unemployment period, no matter how small. It will demonstrate your ability to re-invent yourself.
  • Don’t ignore the gap or cover it up with false information. If the employer discovers that you’re not a genuine person, they will not give you the job, no matter how qualified you are.
  • Don’t give negative information about your previous employer. Let the prospective employer get a sense that you had a good working relationship with your previous employer and the Pandemic was the only reason you had to lose the job.
  • Don’t act desperate (Though you may be!), or play the victim card. You have a lot to offer and the interviewer should get a sense of that.

3 Ideas on How to Explain a Gap on your CV

  • Own it! Create a small section in your CV that allows you to detail when you lost the job and the reason. Job loss due to a pandemic is not something you should hide or be ashamed of. Instead, use it to display that you’re not the kind of person who gives up easily.
  • Highlight the Statistics – Let the employer know the numbers such as ‘100 employees lost their jobs due to downsizing. If your previous employer is in an industry known to have been hard hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic, you could highlight this.
  • Redefine the Gap in your CV. Fill the non-employed time with all the useful activities you’ve pursued over that period. Include
    • Courses you have taken or Skill-building activities
    • Attempted businesses whether successful or failed
    • Informal employment opportunities such as online work,
    • Volunteer work
    • Activities you did to stay physically and mentally healthy

Bottom Line

Some employers will be empathetic and will focus more on what skills you have to bring to the table. These make the best kind of employers.
Other employers, however, may be more suspicious of the gap on your CV, though they are aware of the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

It will be up to you to convince them that you deserve to work for them and that they need you in their organisation. As you search for your next employment, what remains vital is that you work on yourself.

You can Upskill, volunteer your services, or look for short-term contracts.
This may even be the ideal time to consider a change in your career.
Make the gap in employment work positively for you.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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