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Crafting your coronavirus resume: How to fill the hole left by lost opportunities

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COVID Resume

Like many law students, I’ve been struggling with how to handle the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on my legal career. This is the end of my second year of law school. This summer is supposed to be a resume boost and a launch to my first job as a lawyer.

I had lined up a quality externship followed by a study abroad in Paris. Now with COVID-19 shutdowns, the externship is on indefinite hold, and the study abroad has been canceled. 

Even if this situation quickly resolves itself, my summer plans are in ruin. 

In the greater scheme of things, my inconvenience is unimportant.  Yes, I lost that 2L summer, but we are all in the same situation. I find it difficult to believe any employer will penalize the 2021 and 2022 classes for an international pandemic. 

It does however lead to another question; how do I address this summer on my resume?

Initially, I just deleted every lost opportunity. I no longer have the study abroad, and the terms of the externship are in question—so listing them on my resume does not make sense.

Regardless of how you decide to address it, always be completely honest. 

However, that discounts the accomplishment of securing those opportunities. Neither were easy to obtain. It matters to me that I earned them, and I want that credit on my resume. I also don’t want a gap in my resume that I have to either explain in a cover letter or hope the employer automatically makes the connection between the gap and the current situation. 

There doesn’t seem to be any clear guidance as this is a unique situation. Normally, you would never list on a resume something you were offered, but never did. We don’t list schools where we were accepted. We don’t list internships we didn’t take.  This situation isn’t normal.

Some are recommending that the lost opportunities be included on your resume normally with the notation that it was canceled due to COVID-19. I tried that advice and updated my resume, but it felt dishonest. By including the lost opportunities with normal accomplishments, it looked to me like I was taking credit for something I had not done.  I don’t want a potential employer to look at my resume and feel like I was trying to deceive them. 

I came up with my own solution by adding a “COVID-19 Cancellations” section on my resume.  This allows me to get the credit of the acceptance without any hint that I’m trying to mislead a potential employer.  It also addresses the lost summer without taking up valuable space in my cover letter. 

This is an extraordinary time and with it comes creative solutions.  I’m not sure there will be a universal answer, it will depend on your situation and resume.  Your career advisor at your law school will offer the best guidance.

Regardless of how you decide to address it, always be completely honest. 

Jon McGowan Jon McGowan is a rising 3L at Florida State University College of Law. Prior to pursuing his J.D., he owned multiple businesses in Jacksonville, Florida. He currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Jacksonville Housing Authority and President of Better Jacksonville Beach, Inc, a non-profit supporting art and cultural events.