Tips to Addressing a Furlough on Your Resume or Cover Letter


Anytime I review a resume and find a snag in work history it is inevitably during the 2007-2009 timeframe.

The Great Recession is arguably responsible for millions of career transitions and job gaps worldwide. Like any crisis, people swiftly responded with fellowship and compassion for laid-off job searchers. 

Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate rose to 14.7% due to the coronavirus outbreak surpassing the Great Depression’s 10% unemployment ratings.

With this shockingly new tough job market, here are some practical tips for handling a furlough on your resume and cover letter.

Keep details accurate and to a minimum

Avoid red flags and communicate clearly and concisely. Although it may be tempting to adjust dates or alter facts, resist the urge. Between interviewers and background checks, it can catch up with you.

For example, you could say:

  • Role was eliminated due to COVID outbreak
  • Laid-off due to coronavirus pandemic
  • Laid-off due to company closure

Articulate how you used your time-off constructively

Consider filling the gap on your resume with brand-relevant contracts and volunteer work or high-demand certifications, training, and courses. Challenge yourself with a big project or learn a new skill.

Here are some examples you could personalize and use:

  • Gained public trust and improved financial performance and reporting as interim CFO for an NGO
  • Grew social media followers, engagement, and retention of nonprofit as a volunteer consultant
  • Project Management Professional (PMP), Project Management International (PMI), In-process
  • Advanced coursework in digital marketing, business analytics, and statistical analysis
  • Pursing an immersive three-month online course in Mandarin Chinese

Highlight  your accomplishments and skills

Employers are looking for examples of your career achievements. Describe how you responded and led through the coronavirus crisis. Showcase your big wins so that employers feel comfortable taking a chance on you. 

Here are some examples you could personalize and use:  

  • Led efforts to grow portfolio during COVID-19 pandemic, achieving a 10% increase in revenue
  • Restructured business operations in response to coronavirus pandemic to ensure the health and safety of all staff and clients
  • Managed people process including work-from-home and back-to-work orders during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Implemented sales and marketing strategies driving a 13% increase in revenue despite the worldwide economic crisis
  • Consistently met or exceeded 100% of quoted throughout the CV-19 pandemic.
  • Reengineered business model to address challenges presented by the global COVID epidemic.
  • Maintained a balanced budget throughout the pandemic outbreak.

Writers thoughts

I know that you might feel like there just are not many jobs out there right now and that with all this uncertainty you are better off waiting.  I encourage you to start looking now! Companies near you need skilled talent. If you do not feel comfortable leaving your home yet, there are plenty of organizations that require virtual workers.

Stay focused on your craft and the relationships you are making during this unique time, and you’ll come out ahead in the end.