Another common misconception that is thankfully on its way out is that gaps on a candidate’s resume are a bad sign. This mistaken belief particularly hurt women returning to the workforce after starting a family, while also ignoring many common reasons why people need to take a break in their career, like pursuing higher education.
“I would always look negatively at gaps in employment and even on people who were unemployed, thinking that people who were employed were ‘better candidates,’” admits Dustin Carper, VP of strategy at recruitment advertising agency TMP Worldwide. “None of it is my business and doesn’t affect performance.”
Talent acquisition consultant Lou Barron Melendez has also come to view career gaps in a different light than she once did.
“Colleagues and I used to give a candidate more credit for being focused on a more straight upward career trajectory,” she says. “Now, I realize that the most engaging leaders are storytellers. Where do they get a lot of their stories? From side hustles, gap years, peace corps, sabbaticals, workaway programs, volunteering, etc. That year ‘off’ prepares leaders to listen more, to be nimble, and to recognize when to make exceptions for exceptional people.”
Similar to the career break, short stints at companies can sometimes lead candidates to be written off as people who aren’t in it for the long haul.
“There can sometimes be a very justifiable reason why a candidate has worked for a company for a short period of time,” says Missy Dailey, senior manager of recruitment for Disney Cruise Line. “It may very well be the (last) company was the problem, not the candidate. Sure it’s important to ask probing questions, but a meaningful conversation can uncover some amazing talent!”
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