What Does a Gap in a Resume Say About the Candidate?

You’re flipping through resumes when you spot it – a resume gap. Should you immediately throw this application in the trash? Or should you take another look? Follow these guidelines to make a more informed decision.

What a Resume Gap Might Say About a Candidate

Employment gaps happen for a variety of reasons. Generally, you can place them into these categories.

The candidate chose to take time off to…

  • Raise young children
  • Earn a college degree or receive additional training
  • Pursue personal goals such as starting a business or traveling

The candidate decided to take time off to…

  • Work through an illness
  • Assist with family issues such as caring for an ailing relative
  • Relocate

The candidate had to take time off because they…

  • Were laid off and couldn’t find another job
  • Were fired and couldn’t find another job
  • Quit and couldn’t find another job
  • Served prison time

Why You Shouldn’t Automatically Disqualify a Resume with Gaps

Not All Gaps Are Created Equal

Obviously, a candidate who quit their last job and has been unemployed for the last ten months is a risk. However, someone who spent the last year finishing their degree could be a fantastic addition to your team. Don’t assume all employment gaps are bad.

People DO Learn from Their Mistakes

Just because someone made a poor choice doesn’t mean they are permanently locked into a cycle of bad behavior. No one is perfect. In fact, mistakes can be wonderful learning opportunities. For example, a candidate who told off their boss and ended up unemployed may be more grateful and less impulsive than an employee who never had this life experience.

Empathy Can Build Your Brand

Let’s say your company sells children’s items. If you actively encourage parents who are looking to reenter the workforce to apply for jobs, this can build your reputation with your customers. After all, you are a family-friendly business. Similarly, organizations that hire ex-offenders often receive positive press because they are willing to give people a second chance.

How to Evaluate Gaps

Ask for an Explanation

In all fairness, you shouldn’t ignore a resume gap. It could signal trouble ahead. So, find out what happened. If the candidate has a valid reason for their break in employment, you shouldn’t count this against them.

Look for Growth

Even when they aren’t working in a traditional environment, people can still expand their skillsets. Watch for candidates who kept up their credentials, volunteered, sought out new experiences and/or overcoming obstacles. Those are the people who can bring true value to your organization.

Check References

Checking references is essential when you’re dealing with an employment gap. Be sure you can back up what the candidate told you. If their story doesn’t add up, you probably don’t want to make this hire.

Is Your Company Struggling to Find Candidates with the Right Resume?

FirstStaff can help you find the talented and reliable workers you need. We place professionals, light industrial workers, and office staff throughout Arkansas and western Texas. Learn more about the benefits of partnering with us today!

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