How should I interpret employment gaps on a candidate resume?
I am currently hiring and have "gobs" of resumes. Two were put into our yes pile even though they have employment gaps.
The first resume has two gaps: 1) was laid off two weeks ago, and 2) left a company after 12 years to go back to school, started a job about two years later (doesn't list months on the resume), but didn't finish the graduate degree for another three years. Not sure if this second is actually a gap or not - I need a little more info - so I am assuming it is a gap.
The second includes 9 companies and 4 gaps over a 20 year career. In the last 10 years, each position was held less than one year with a gap between each company. Gaps varied from 4-9 months. The candidate also doesn't list any employment for the last year. I could also add, the candidate only held two positions in the first 10 years of their career - which shows a definite trend toward not being able to held a position.
Should a gap in employment or a layoff be an automatic ding? Should it weigh against a candidate at all if they are otherwise qualified?

Smacquarrie's picture

The primary guidance is that you are looking for a reason to say no. If these gaps lead you to believe that they can't hold a position for long I would say "pass".
I will also say that it should depend on the industry and your knowledge of that industry. There are several where gaps in employment are the norm and as long as it is not excessive, I could look past it.
Are you hiring for an entry level position?
Do they have enough years in the market where they should "know" what they want to do for a living?
Most of the positions that I hire for are considered entry level or early career positions. Because of this I will accept applicants with gaps.
It is also possible that they follow MT type guidelines and have only included relevant job history for the position they are applying for.
In looking at my resume you will see a gap of almost 2 years as that position is not relevant to what I do today. The flip side is that I have been with the same company for 15 years now and the position prior to that was for 6 years.