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

Most hiring managers get concerned when they see gaps in a candidate’s employment history. That’s understandable since these gaps could mean this person was let go and had trouble finding another job. Or, it could also give the impression of an individual who tends to hop from job to job.

Neither of these assumptions indicates a desirable candidate. The negative connotations associated with someone who was fired by another company or who doesn’t stick to one job for a standard length of time, are plenty. Furthermore, if the gap was caused by time off to raise children or to care for an elderly parent, there could be the unfair perception that the candidate has diminished skills after being out of the workforce for such a lengthy period.

Don’t focus on the gap

Here’s another angle to consider. It’s already hard to find the perfect candidate to fill open positions. Why put unnecessary emphasis on a candidate’s career gap when their skills and talents could be a big help to your organization? After all, these gaps may have been caused by factors beyond their control, such as layoffs, but these candidates still have much to offer.

Also, by putting too much emphasis on these gaps, you could become guilty of what experts call an “unconscious bias” against working parents, especially working moms who leave the workforce to become a full-time parent to a newborn baby or a newly-adopted child. These parents could return to their careers with just as many skills (and maybe more enthusiasm!) than their peers who didn’t do the same. Give everyone a fair chance without focusing on the gap.

Assess their skills

Looking at a candidate’s employment history can give employers an overview of someone as a professional. But if someone left the workforce to earn a degree or gain new experiences, they will probably have more to offer than what their work history would indicate.

The important thing is someone’s ability to do a good job. One way to find out if a candidate will be able to help your company is by setting up a skills assessment program. The process could involve testing to evaluate the skills of each applicant, which can be very effective for occupations that are more technical.

Another method is to have interviewers ask behavioral questions. This entails putting the candidate into a job-related situation and asking them how they would handle it. Testing and behavioral questions are just two of the ways to remove the focus from the candidates’ employment history and put the spotlight on their skills and talents.

Keep in mind that it’s never easy to find talented workers, which makes it all the more critical not to eliminate potential star employees because they have gaps in their employment history.

Let us help you fill your job openings with qualified candidates

United Personnel has been providing staffing solutions to Western Massachusetts and beyond for over 30 years. We will use our experience and expertise to help you get a strong team on board. Contact us today, and we’ll get started!