When receiving dozens of applications for a single job opening, it can be tempting to discount candidates who have gaps in their employment histories. Contemporary thinking tells you that employment gaps likely represent two things: diminished skills and an unemployable/undesirable candidate.
If you routinely press the “Reject” button, you might be selling candidates, and your company, short. Consider these three reasons why you should not discount candidates who have employment gaps on their resume.
It is unwise to conflate employment gaps with negative circumstances. The truth is that you do not know the reason why Candidate A has a two-year gap. The reason could legitimate. If the mass layoffs of the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t made this clear enough, take it a step further and imagine yourself in the same position then give applicants the kind of consideration that you would want for yourself. Contemplate whether it would fair if a potential employer deemed that you were an undesirable candidate, because of an employment gap.
Don’t assume you know why gaps exist. If everything else on a candidate’s resume fits the bill, consider contacting the candidate to request clarification for any employment gaps.
Employment gaps do not necessarily mean lost or outdated skills. For example, an IT professional might have a gap after spending a year doing contract work. While he or she may not have been employed in the traditional sense, the candidate is highly likely to have maintained his or her skills as sharply as ever during that time.
This is the most important consideration for this topic. Resumes are tools that recruiters and HR managers use to get a feel for what candidates bring to the table. However, like any tool, using a resume for something other than its intended purpose does not always work. If you disregard candidates with employment gaps without at least giving equal consideration, you may be misusing the tool.
With just a little effort, you might find that a candidate’s employment gap is more than reasonable. You might learn that a candidate has maintained necessary skills and can bring additional soft skills that could benefit your company. You will never know, however, if you disregard a resume on its face.