Whether it’s for family, avocations, education, or another pursuit, some may choose to take extended time off between roles – even more so now with a global pandemic affecting many workers’ jobs. Elaine Varelas discusses the reasons for extended time off and how to show a potential employer that you want to work.
Q: If I’m not working right now and don’t really want to, is that going to look bad to potential employers? I was laid off and I’m taking the time during the pandemic to stay at home and be with family, but I’m worried it will look bad on my resume. How are employers looking at gaps in 2020?
A: Not working for a short period of time is totally acceptable to employers, especially during COVID-19 in 2020. Everyone understands that there are many other major life components to this time, and dedicating personal time to family, avocations, education, and other major life areas is totally acceptable to employers for what they consider a reasonable amount of time. So what is reasonable is one question. Three months? Six months? A few years? Your answers depend on that answer.
Employers want to see evidence that you want to work. Many people give answers that show they would much rather be doing anything else. A recent candidate started an interview saying he had a good ten years left. Starting the discussion about a new job with the end in sight didn’t give the impression he was excited to work at all. Not everyone can show that they way to work, either, based on their job history, time off between roles, or whether or not they have a good answer as to how you took advantage of time off resulting from COVID-19 – or any circumstance, really, that could put you out of a job.
How employers look at employment gaps are often based on how you address these gaps. Get comfortable with yourself about why you’re taking this time off. You want to understand for yourself what it is that you hope to accomplish. If it’s having a good, easy-going summer, you might want to try to add more information to that answer for interviews.