For many job applicants, there's nothing scarier than a resume gap, especially if it's right at the top of your resume, showing the world of hiring managers that you've been unemployed for a long time. The fears run deep: Why should a hiring manager take a chance on you when no one else has? How will you convince a hiring manager you haven't just been lazing about for the last year watching Netflix? How will you hold back tears in a job interview when describing the often very emotional reason for a long gap (everything from the the depression of getting let go to having to take extended time off for a family emergency or needing a travel break for your own mental healing)?
Typically, we recommend that clients get crafty with the way they are presenting dates on their timeline (like using years instead of months) or use other activities to help fill the gaps (coursework, side jobs). But for gaps in 2020, all the rules are out the window, and you have nothing to be afraid of!
So many people were unemployed this year that no hiring manager is going to question a resume gap in 2020 (and yes, this is true even if you weren’t working for the first two months of the year). That said, if you were doing things to further your professional development, like taking online classes, creating your own content, volunteering, or doing freelance gigs, there’s nothing wrong with including that info on your resume, as long as it’s easy to explain. Those things can also make a good conversation starter in an interview.
But what about small side gigs like shopping for Instacart or delivering for DoorDash that you may have taken to help pay the bills? Do those belong on your resume? There's certainly no shame in finding ways to pay the bills, but unless you're applying for a job where that experience is relevant (for example, an Instacart job would be very applicable for a role as a personal assistant or one where you would be shopping and driving, but it won’t help you much otherwise), you should leave it off your resume. It’s better to have 2020 unaccounted for in order to keep your most recent entertainment experience at the top of your resume. The gap will barely be noticeable.
It’s likely that for many job seekers, the resume gap will continue well into 2021. But don’t stress, as this gap is not going to prevent you from getting interviews. Just remember that you are still the same talented person that you were in 2019, and on top of that, 2020 has made you even more resilient!
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan