Should You Consider Candidates With an Employment Gap?

May 22nd, 2015

A dense, multipage resume can indicate a candidate with a lot of experience — or it can indicate a candidate who’s padded their resume with buzzwords and projects they were only briefly familiar with. A thin resume that has gaps in employment can indicate a candidate who’s been unable to hold a position — or someone who’s taken chances and learned a lot from their experiences. You’ll never know the difference in either case, unless you take the time to interview the candidate and ask about it.

In today’s economy, gaps in employment are more common than ever. This is especially true in the tech business, where employees are often hired when a project starts up, and let go if the project fails. Startups can offer workers a rich learning environment that collapses overnight.

Questions to Ask About Gaps

When you see a resume with gaps, it’s important to find out whether they were voluntary or involuntary. If involuntary, was the employee let go due to failing to do the job, or was it the company that failed? If voluntary, what were the employee’s reasons for choosing not to work for that period?

Whether the candidate chose not to be employed or was unemployed voluntarily, find out what they did during that time and how they maintained their skills or developed new skills that will help them fill the position you’re hiring for.

You also should review the resume for a pattern of gaps and the timing of gaps. Repeated brief periods of employment followed by gaps raise questions about the candidate’s judgment, ability, motivation, and commitment.

Evaluating Answers About Gaps

When you ask the candidate to explain the gaps, pay attention to the answers. The candidate should have a clear, consistent story. If you like the candidate, but have concerns about their answers, doing a background check is worth it to verify the details. If the candidate is reticent to answer, this may mean the reason was personal, such as an illness in their family, but it may also mean the reason was negative, such as a period in jail.

Work With a Staffing Firm

A staffing firm like InReach IT Solutions can help you evaluate the resume of a candidate with gaps by doing preliminary interviews and checking references. Contact us to learn how working with an agency can help you find your next employee.