Industry Insights

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Tips for Job Searching After Employment Gaps, Layoffs, Furloughs, or Salary Cuts

March 30, 2021

This blog is contributed by the Burtch Works recruiting team.

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The COVID-19 pandemic this past year has presented many of us with new circumstances that may impact your job search. While we know that many teams have resumed hiring, the evolving nature of the current market means that different industries and companies may still be dealing with significant challenges.Whether you’re trying to approach a job search and interviews after being laid off, furloughed, receiving a salary cut, taking time away to care for a family member, or some other reason, we wanted to share some tips for how to go about it.

Approaching Layoffs, Furloughs, or Time Away

1. Establish your reason for the employment gap, be clear about timing and date

Although it may be tempting to leave dates open-ended or vague on your resume, you want to provide an end date (even when there is an employment gap), because it makes it clear that you are available to start immediately.There shouldn’t be negative stigma attached to job loss (especially right now), and employers want to know if you are available to start so it’s helpful to have an end date. Especially if a company is looking to bring someone on board quickly, making it clear that you are ready to start can work to your advantage.

2. Make sure end dates on your resume and LinkedIn match

While we always advise consistency between your resume and LinkedIn, this is especially key when you are interviewing for a job. Many recruiters and hiring managers will check your LinkedIn profile as well as your resume, so inconsistencies between the two has the potential to raise red flags.The current assumption for many people is that time away from the workforce between March 2020 and now was likely due to COVID-19 impacts, but feel free to add additional context in parenthesis or italics, such as (lost half of clients due to COVID-19) or something similar.

3. Be prepared to explain time away in your interviews

When you talk to interviewers, make sure you have your explanation for why your employment gap happened in case you need to quickly explain. We generally recommend keeping this explanation informative but concise, and answer additional questions if your interviewer finds it necessary to dig further.

4. Show that you’ve been keeping your skills sharp

We’ve also heard from some professionals that they’ve picked up consulting or freelancing work, which can be a good addition to your resume in between roles, especially if you’ve been laid off or otherwise out of the workforce for a longer period of time.It’s also very important to make sure you have been keeping up with developments in your field. With technology moving so quickly, you can’t step back from learning and stop continuing to evolve and change as the industry changes. If you step out for several months or years, we advise taking the time to make sure that you’ve kept your skills and knowledge in line with the market, as much as you possibly can.

Approaching Salary/Compensation Changes

1. Online applications will probably ask your salary expectations

If you’re filling out online application it will most likely ask for your salary expectations, so our advice is to fill this out as you normally would. If bargaining power for job seekers is limited due to more candidates on the market (or more competition for the role you’re applying to), we advise keeping this in mind as well as your market value. We’re not seeing employers low ball offers right now, but flexibility in a competitive market works to your advantage.

2. In interviews, transparency about compensation is key

When you have interviews or your initial discussion, make sure to be as transparent as you can about your situation. Luckily, salary cuts were common enough over the past year that this is unlikely to prompt any judgement from a recruiter or hiring manager. Every interviewer is different, so some might ask your expectations, some might ask what you make, but give them all the information you can about your compensation history. Since your full market value is most likely what you’re still seeking, make sure to be clear about any temporary changes to your salary/compensation.

3. Let the interviewer know if you can be flexible or not

Depending on your situation, it can be helpful to be up front, such as, “I’ve got wiggle room/am flexible” if you can. Know your worth and what you bring to the table, but if there are more people competing for the same job as you, then bargaining power might not be at its strongest.

4. Fully remote roles may require salary adjustments

Roles that are fully remote may ask for more flexibility on compensation, especially if there are adjustments due to cost of living either where you are or where the company is located. A recent example is how many Bay Area tech firms are expanding their work from home policy to allow their employees to work from anywhere, but the catch is that their salaries may be lower depending on where they choose to settle down.Overall, our research has found that the hiring market is active. Our advice is to continue to network and get feelers out there! Remember that especially given the past year, there is not the same stigma with being unemployed. Talk to recruiters who focus on your profession, and make sure your job search is targeted so that you’re not pursuing roles that wouldn’t be a good fit for you. Best of luck with your search, and feel free to get in touch with us!