Why You Should Look at a Candidate’s Skills and Not Employment Gaps

You scan the resume of an individual who you’ve heard is a promising candidate for your current job opening.

Do they meet your educational requirements? Check. What about their professional credentials? Again, check. So far, so good … but wait! What’s up with this gap on their resume? Did they just zone out of the workforce to sit on a tropical beach and sip margaritas? Yikes! Better not take any chances, so let’s toss this one into the reject pile …

Not so fast!

Don’t let an applicant’s resume gaps eliminate them from consideration. The right combination of hard and soft skills should take priority over any breaks a potential superstar may have taken. Those skills, plus the ability to adapt and meet the changing needs of your business, are what really matter.

Good Candidates Have Good Reasons

The best applicants have viable reasons for their resume gaps. Find out what they are before you rule these individuals out. For instance, company layoffs are common, and often occur unexpectedly, so those affected have little to no advance notice. Or, a sudden family illness or other crisis may occur, which necessitates taking a side track from one’s professional path. Also, consider the following:

  • Not every career experience is listed on a resume. In some cases, candidates may opt to omit positions they feel are irrelevant to your job opening. So, if you’re wondering about such possibilities, be sure to ask.
  • Be considerate of new grads. Lacking professional experience right out of school is not uncommon. Look at the total candidate picture: Initiative, interpersonal strengths, persistence and the willingness to work hard. With current graduates, you typically can add the latest technical knowledge and fresh new perspectives that may be just what your workforce needs.
  • Remember, life experiences can be just as valuable as work experiences. They shape a person’s attitude, ethics and personality, and often teach skills that cannot be learned in a classroom. These may include flexibility, resilience, problem-solving, and creativity.

Your Best Strategy

In a perfect world, there would be no employment gaps. But, in the real world, you need to be open minded. Determine which gaps are significant and which are trivial. Challenge candidates to fill in the blanks.

  • Don’t assume, ask. Learn why a person was out of work. Once you learn the back story, you can better gauge whether they would be a good fit for your organization and company culture.
  • Know the benefits. While there may be good reasons not to hire someone with resume gaps, the opposite may also be true. They may be especially eager to work hard and prove themselves. They may have insider knowledge from their previous experience that can be used positively. Or, they may be willing to consider a temporary position or a slightly lower salary as you evaluate their performance.
  • Focus on potential. On-the-job skills can be taught, but enthusiasm and potential are innate and priceless. Recognize non-tangible strengths like loyalty, a sense of purpose, motivation and the desire to succeed.

Hiring the right person is challenging – and factors such as employment gaps add another piece to the recruitment puzzle. For strategic staffing solutions, partner with PrideStaff Modesto. We’re backed by a national network whose resources, contacts and market intelligence will provide you with maximum value and results. Contact us today to learn more.

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