As an employer in this economy, you know it’s not unusual for candidates to have resumes with work gaps. Unemployment has hit many, and not everyone goes straight from one job to another. However, it helps to do you due diligence in discussing said gaps with candidates. Their resumes, combined with their responses, will give you an indication of which person has simply had bad luck and which has made bad choices.
- You want to look for obvious gaps, such as Candidate A worked for Company ABC from June 2009 to July 2011, and worked for Company XYZ from February 2012 to the present. Look at short stints as well, such as working from March 2013 to May 2013. Look at any consulting work done to fill in gaps, as well as candidates who list only years instead of months and years.
- There may be perfectly viable explanations for these missing months, so they’re not necessarily automatic negatives. But a candidate should be able to quickly, clearly, and specifically answer any questions you have about her.
- Listen carefully to the explanation of the gap, and consider how it can play into the workplace. Perhaps the candidate took time away to raise children — has he kept up with trends during that time, and has being a parent given him skills and insights that can enhance his candidacy? Maybe during the time away he volunteered or nursed an ill family member or took a trip across the United States. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about working; it means he did something with his time away from work that shaped who he is, and he may be ready to apply that with your company.
- Consider the types of questions to ask regarding the gap. How can you tell what’s legitimate and what’s filler or fluff to avoid talking about the “real” reason for it? Use some of these questions to get to the heart of the matter:
- Would you have stayed if it were still possible (even at a reduced salary)?
- Do you have any performance reviews/letters of recommendation, etc?
- Did you get along with your peers?
- Why are you looking for another position now?
- What were the exact circumstances of your departure?
Bottom line: If you screen out candidates solely for employment gaps, you may miss out on someone who’s used his time away from work in incredible ways, ways that enhance him as both a person and a potential employee. Do “mind the gap,” but let the candidate’s explanation of it inform your hiring choice. To discuss your hiring needs and begin working with our experienced recruiting team, contact us today!