How International Students Can Manage Gaps In Employment In Times Of Covid-19

Folks with gaps in employment have faced stigma for the longest time.

Many of my students have been stigmatized for the mental health challenges they live with –
they have had to pause successful careers to look after themselves.
While international students transition into life in Canada and the dynamics of the marketplace,
they experience gaps in employment too. That means that they can potentially experience
stigma also.

That stigma impacts their confidence when pursuing career opportunities, leading to mental
blockages and self-sabotaging.
When looking for jobs, some folks with gaps in employment resort to functional resumes, and
some resort to hybrid formats because they want to engage the reader through their
transferable skills and their accomplishments rather than a linear trajectory.
The problem is that we have heard how much recruiters hate functional resumes because they
raise red flags since they assume that the candidate is trying to hide something. They always
prefer a chronological resume.

Now that we are all facing the impacts of COVID-19, life itself is a constant red flag, so perhaps
recruiters could show more humanity and less stigma, which would result in less “hiding.”
I hope that employers become more flexible moving forward and welcome other formats,
rather than stigmatizing anything that is not chronologically presented. However, a few months
will still have to pass by to find out what their mindset looks like.
With this crisis, not only a lot more people will have gaps in employment, but also all sorts of
mental health challenges because this virus does not discriminate. No one is exempted!
Take the following points into consideration if you have a gap:

Embrace it: There is nothing you can do about it but learning new ways of how to live with it.

Upgrade yourself: There is a huge array of online resources that you can access in order to
develop skills that make you more competitive within your industry of interest. Also, people are
currently facilitating free webinars and zoom meetings that you can be part of to learn new
things.

Grow your network: Since everyone is at home, online connections are more relevant than
ever before. Use LinkedIn wisely and strategically to make new and valuable relationships and
to cultivate existing ones.

Collect content based on your experiences: Reflect on your journey and what you are putting
in place right now to sail through the crisis so that you have solid examples that illustrate your
skills and accomplishments when sharing them with potential employers in future job
interviews.

Adjust your strategy: If you are investing time in your job search and not getting traction and
the results that you were expecting, evaluate your strategy and adjust it accordingly.
Self-care: Engage in activities outside the scope of work/job search process that you enjoy and
help you release stress so your mental health is well taken care of.

What we are going through right now is unprecedented but it also opens up spaces to increase
your self-awareness and design the life and career paths you want to walk.

Do not wait until the crisis is over – strive for proactivity so that you confidently seize the
opportunities that will knock on your door.

The future of work is now!

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