Most hiring professionals have done it at some point in their careers: ignored a candidate due to questionable gap years on their resumes.
That quick judgment is leaving top-quality candidates in the hands of your competitors. Of course, there are various reasons job seekers take gap years. Some explanations are negatives and those candidates should be passed over.
However, there are new reasons — some exciting — that people have holes in their resumes. So, why do you need to get over this stigma now?
We found three experts who are ready to help you overcome this talent acquisition obstacle.
1. They’re part of life’s natural course
After nine years of work and having hired more than 100 employees, I can assure you that giving importance to resume gaps is a big mistake.
Four years ago, we had the chance to hire an excellent programmer, but we decided not to due to several gaps in their resume. We saw the gaps as a sign they wouldn’t be a long-term employee at our company.
A year passed and we still urgently needed a programmer, so we decided to take a chance on that candidate. He’s now been part of our team for three years and has taken the least amount of days off.
Resume gaps simply reflect life.
You can’t always be working. Personal problems or dreams of your own projects can arise, and it’s a mistake to not hire someone due to these reasons.
In my experience, employees with resume gaps have more experience because they saw the world of employment from another perspective. Those who always had a job and never took the time to slow down are actually at a disadvantage.
2. The definition of success is changing
The world of work has evolved significantly over the past decade. Previous indicators of ‘success’ such as longevity in a role or organization or tertiary qualifications have become less relevant. They’ve been replaced with qualities such as creativity and demonstrated entrepreneurship.
It stands to reason that indicators of ‘concern’ have also adjusted. A candidate who has spent the past nine months working to bootstrap a failed startup is possibly more qualified or employable than the candidate who spent nine months working for a competing organization.
Soft skills, such a resilience, tenacity, and creativity will have been developed over this period of time and also speak to the character of the candidate who went out on a limb.
During talent acquisition, a recruiter should take a candidate’s resume gap into consideration, but only for the purpose of clarification — not for the dismissal of their application.
Indicators, such as how quickly they’ve progressed through their career, the nature of the organizations they previously worked for, and the creative projects they work on in their personal time are great ways of assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role.
3. Non-traditional work keeps skills sharp
With the rise of the gig economy, many laborers filled in traditional employment gaps with various self-employed jobs on freelance sites like Fiverr or Uber. Some applicants may choose to leave this time spent freelancing off of their resumes.
As a recruiter, you run the risk of ignoring what these highly-resourceful and versatile candidates bring to the table if you remain overly focused on employment gaps through the talent acquisition process.
Hiring managers often overlook the quality of a candidate’s alma mater. Spend more time reviewing their former college to better determine the quality of their education.
Additionally, you’ll ensure you’re receiving high-quality candidates by focusing on the nature of their previous work experience rather than the length of their unemployment. How long were they employed before this recent gap in their work history? What kind of work were they performing while they were employed?
Pauline Delaney, Senior Career Consultant and Contributing Writer at Resume Genius