OVERCOMING THE COVID-19 GAP IN YOUR RESUME
With BC’s restart plan, restaurants, shops, and workplaces are re-opening, meaning that there will be more job openings available to young people! After being in a pandemic for so long, it can be hard to know where to start when building a resume, and it might feel like there is a COVID gap in your experiences. There might also be some insecurity about what this ‘new normal’ will look like. This article will guide you through the steps of creating a resume, how to make it stand out, and making it unique to you!
Things to know before you get started on your first resume:
Research jobs you are interested in
Creating a resume is the first step towards getting a job, and you want to make sure that it not only showcases who you are and why you’re perfect for the job, but also stands out from the rest of the resumes employers receive. Before you start writing, research job postings that interest you and make a list of keywords, skills, or training that you see come up in most or all of the job postings. Keep those in mind while you build your resume.
The COVID gap
If you’re worried about a COVID gap, think about the coping skills, hobbies or realizations about job interests that you’ve gained over the past year and a half. Could any of those translate into a job? It’s completely normal if you feel that you’ve spent the past year just trying to get through the everyday. Try thinking about what you learned about your own resilience in the last year, and how this could apply to navigating potential challenges at work. It can help to put aside the resume draft and job listing for a while and just think about what passions you’ve discovered or coping skills you’ve found.
List all your experiences
If you don’t know where to start, make a list of everything you’ve done in the past few years, including educational experience, training, or skills you’ve gained. Think about what you did in previous volunteer positions, training you did at school or online, and anything else! Once this list is done, organize it into categories and you’ve got a great starting point for your first resume.
Avoiding the COVID gap and refreshing your resume
Avoiding the COVID gap
With COVID-19, we’ve stayed at home a lot more than usual and some of the things that we were once able to do have been restricted. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ve been doing nothing (even if it may feel like it…). Avoid the COVID gap in your resume by adding any online courses you did, online clubs you joined, or hobbies and skills you acquired during the pandemic. Or perhaps, you were just surviving the unknown – how did you maintain some sense of normalcy? How did you cope? (Even if it feels like you didn’t, you are here today, reading this article.) How did you manage to get here? This shows potential employers that even with free time (and a lot of time to be alone with anxious thoughts), you stayed motivated to grow and improve.
Refresh by using power words
When writing a resume, you want to keep each section as short as possible so you can either fit more on your resume or make it easier to read and understand. Power words can help with this- they’re active descriptions that highlight your skills and accomplishments.
For example, instead of saying “I managed a team and we completed tasks together,” try “Managed a 5-person team and effectively coordinated group projects.”
Refresh by thinking of the 3 ‘C’s
Critical thinking – most, if not all, employers are looking for this skill. Recall times that you have solved problems and how you solved them.
- An example of critical thinking is when you coached a soccer team and had to come up with new ways of attacking the other team’s weaknesses when the match resumed.
Collaboration – showing that you’ve worked in a team environment and worked together to solve problems is a huge asset.
- An example of collaboration is when you ran the backstage production of your school’s theatre show and had to communicate with your team through walkie-talkies to ensure that the show ran smoothly.
Capable – showing that you understand the job description and that you include the skills employers describe on your resume. Even if you may not have a lot of experience, a willingness to learn can go a long way. This also includes making sure that you don’t have any spelling or grammar mistakes on your resume- remember, this is your potential future employer’s first impression of you!
- To show that you are capable, you might make the “skills and training” section of your resume stand out with a pop of colour, and add the specific training courses you went through that match up to what the job description is asking for.
Other Things to Think About
The importance of self-compassion throughout this process
This past year was super tough, and you were able to get through it. This in and of itself is something to be incredibly proud of. We are here to tell you that whatever you did in the past year does not define you or your future. Rest assured that there are lots of compassionate employers out there who will understand what a hard journey this past year was.
Make your resume unique to the job you’re applying for
This doesn’t mean that you have to completely change your resume for each job application, but you should edit some parts or phrases included in your resume to increase your chances of getting that specific job! The easiest way to do this is to look for specific words in the job posting and incorporate those exact words.
For example, if you’re applying for a job in retail, and the job posting says that successful applicants should have experience working on a team, you should highlight previous teamwork (perhaps a previous volunteer job, or a school extracurricular).
If you’re having trouble finding what to put on a specific resume, ask yourself “if this was taken out, would I seem just as qualified?” If the answer is yes, then you can think about removing it. If the answer is no, then keep it on! Before you remove it, think broadly of what transferable skills were gained in the position; for example, maybe it’s not obvious how setting up for a craft fair translates to administrative work, but if we think about the coordinating/planning skills required, there might be some key strengths to highlight here.
It’s super tempting to use Canva or another service to make your resume designed and colourful. However, you don’t want to go overboard and include too much design- most resumes should only include a bit of colour to direct the reader’s eyes to what is important like your name or headers for different sections. If you’re applying for a job in a creative field like graphic design, fashion, or art, you can add design elements in order to showcase your talents and your personality.
Avoid underselling or overselling yourself
It’s especially hard to create a resume if you don’t think that you have enough experience – but trust us, you do. Any experience you have volunteering, playing on sports teams, or participating on a youth council is relevant and important!
The best way to ensure that you’re not over or underselling yourself is to honestly ask yourself, “what did I learn from doing this experience, and what tangible impacts were there?” Then just write down anything that comes to mind, and format it later. As long as you’re being honest and really thinking about what you learned or did, then you can safely say that your resume is complete.
You’ve got this
This past year and a half has been hard on us all, but the good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel, especially with British Columbia’s restart plan. At the same time, for some, we are entering yet another ‘new normal’ which can be nerve-wracking – whether you have immunocompromised people in your life, worry about losing the comfort of a medical mask, or simply are not ready to be in large social groups, Foundry is here for you and we ready to meet you where you are at.
The bottom line is we have all been through a very disruptive year, more so for some than others, so compassion for ourselves and others is needed all around. There are many more jobs available in the hospitality and customer service industry, not to mention organizations that are looking to grow after the pandemic. As you start to refresh your resume, think about how you avoided the COVID gap, and get back out on the job market. Here at Foundry, we wish you luck, and are looking forward to celebrating your success soon! If you need more help, you can turn to our Work section or connect with your local Foundry service to learn more about Foundry Works, our new supportive employment program.
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