As human resource practitioners and managers, it’s become much more common to receive candidates who have gaps of unemployment on their resumes. This is as a result of the poor economy that most of the nation experienced for several years, and some areas that are still catching up. However, one must not ignore these gaps. It’s worth bringing up and discussing with the candidate because they may have been doing something productive during this time.
Learn how to address or move past the gaps in a candidate’s career history with tactfulness.
Ask about it.
It doesn’t have to be awkward to ask about a resume or career gap. Just wait until the right moment. Most candidates will be happy to provide you with a truthful answer about the periods in between jobs with at least a general explanation. If the gap is shorter than three months, don’t worry about it so much.
If you are a little concerned about the explanation provided, ask the candidate to explain a little more. Use open-ended interview questions like, “Can you tell me what you were focusing on during this time in between jobs?” The candidate will likely share more details and maybe tell you about some career building activities accomplished during these times.
There could be a good chance that the perceived career gap is incorrect and that the candidate just listed an employment date wrong, or maybe the time was spent on temporary assignments that the candidate was not sure about listing. Clarify the dates of employment and ask a probing question if there is any doubt.
Move past it.
If the gap is short-lived (a few months max) then it’s not really worth bringing up. People often face challenges with keeping employment long-term in the new economy. Companies let good people go sometimes. Sometimes people choose to take a sabbatical from their crazy careers, for health or other reasons.
Focus on work history.
Take the focus off the gaps in between jobs and put it back on the candidate’s actual work experience. This is where the candidate has learned work skills, achieved things in their career, and made a difference. Take the time to talk about these aspects during the interview.
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