Tips on Evaluating a Resume with Employment Gaps
There’s often negative stigma associated with candidates who have employment gaps on their resume. Skipping over qualified candidates because of those gaps, however, could be a significant mistake in today’s world where talent is in high demand.
Here are some ways you can evaluate a resume fairly so that you’re not incorrectly judging candidates or passing on one that could be the right fit for your position.
Ask questions. If you have a qualified candidate with unexplained gaps in their resume, the first logical step is to talk to them. Ask for their reasoning behind leaving each role – did their contracts expire? Did their company have layoffs? Did they have extenuating life circumstances like military service or family leave that kept them from working? Depending on their answers it will be easier to determine if gaps in employment are a habit or if they were due to unique, unforeseen circumstances.
Look closely at the length of employment gaps. Although significant stretches of unemployment could indicate a lack of preparation or ingenuity, it could just as easily mean the complete opposite. If your candidate took time off to pursue additional education or a certification, dismissing them could be a bad move on your part. Again, it’s always best to ask questions and get justifications for each employment gap, especially those for very short or very long lengths of time.
Compare employment gaps to time at each position. The first thing a hiring manager or recruiter should look at is longevity. Is the candidate jumping from position to position every six months or are they investing multiple years in each role? It’s probably safe to say there’s a lower likelihood of return on investment when candidates have a history of leaving roles after brief periods. Those gaps could also a good indicator about whether they’d be a better fit for contract or full-time positions.
Listen to recruiters. Many times, hiring managers can and should leave those big questions to recruiters. If they know candidates are qualified, have asked them about gaps in their employment and got them to state reasons in a cover letter, trust your recruiter. They hold expertise about the candidate, the market, and what candidates are out there to fit your particular role. Passing on a candidate when they’ve already done their due diligence could be a poor decision.