Some hiring managers view a resume gap as an instant deal breaker, a sign that a candidate just isn’t serious about her career and doesn’t have what it takes to succeed in a given industry.
Other employers see resume gaps as an essential sign of real world experience, and if a candidate doesn’t have one or two of these in his record, he’s nothing but an anxious grind who trudges back and forth to the office every day while life passes him by.
But most employers, of course, fall somewhere in between. This week, we asked some of the hiring managers in our network to weigh in. We wanted to know how they really feel when they see a gap of more than six months on a candidate’s resume, and here’s what they told us.
Bird, Food Service
“I have no problem with a gap on a candidate’s resume. How on earth would her six month absence from the workplace on 2008 impact her ability to connect with our customers and help us manage our business? The only thing that might concern me is a resume so full of gaps that the candidate clearly spends more time outside of the workplace then inside.”
Angelo, Printing & Publishing
“If the candidate went through a long jobless period of a year or more, I’d ask what he was doing during that time. The answer could be anything at all—I’m just curious. If he was raising small children, suffering from a health issue, or searching for work he just couldn’t find, none of those concern me. But if he was involved in something he’s not proud of or spending time in jail, I’d like to know more before I pursue his candidacy.”
Ron, Fund Management
“We ask about gaps, and we ask how the candidate spent the unexplained period, but almost any explanation is fine with us. We don’t expect candidates to have an unbroken record of employment that goes back for decades. No interesting person has that.”
“An employee younger than 30 shouldn’t have any gaps in her resume. A long period off the job market suggests that she just isn’t competitive, and if other employers didn’t want her, there may be a reason we don’t want her either. It’s just a red flag. If you want to backpack around Europe after college, that’s fine, and if you were laid off, maybe it wasn’t your fault. But around here, we only want serious candidates that other employers are fighting over.”
Ashish, Financial Planning
“We don’t want candidates without resume gaps. If you graduated from school and started working like a robot for one employer after another, and you’ve never seen the world, changed careers, raised a family, lost a job, taken care of a parent, tried to start a business, or had a single life experience of your own, how can you relate to our clients? Our customers are worldly people who want planners/salespeople they can trust.”
Never lie about the dates of your previous positions, but feel free to omit positions that aren’t relevant to the job at hand. And if you’ve gone through a jobless period of six months or longer, just be prepared to explain your reasons in case potential employers ask. In the meantime, visit LiveCareer for more tips, formatting tools and guidelines that can help you find the job—and the workplace culture—that’s right for you.