A recent question posed to a general Q & A site sparked my interest: “Why do employers avoid hiring job seekers who have been out of work for a while?” The question was interesting, but the responses were even more interesting with some valuable lessons for job seekers. Related: How To Handle Career Gaps On Your Resume The initial answer placed all the blame on employers: a) a presumed “shelf-life” to skills, b) you’re “stale,” or c) “if you were any good, you’d already have a job.” Then, in an unhelpful statement, the respondent wrote: “It’s wrong on a dozen levels.” without providing even one as even an example. For over a dozen additional responses, most agreed with further criticism for HR while one respondent asked for elaboration on what’s “wrong.” While there is clear evidence that this bias does exist in some hiring managers and HR representatives, it is also clear that job seekers need to face some other realities.
Reality #1 – Candidate VolumeToo many job seekers assume they are the best candidate for every job they apply for. Wrong! First of all, in most cases, you are one of a hundred (or hundreds) of applicants. Many are going to be equally qualified; some are likely to be more qualified. Your resume or online submission is likely to be scanned for key words related to accomplishments, skills, and/or education. You may be rejected for a reason completely unrelated to “job gaps” on your resume. Given the high volume of resumes that are screened out by automated searches, your “job gap” could easily be an unknown factor.
Reality #2 – Resume QualityWhether or not the decision on your application is affected by candidate volume, the quality of your resume is very likely to be a determining factor. A hiring manager or recruiter’s job is to very quickly sort a high volume of resumes into some type of grading, often a simple A-B-C rating. Research on this has shown that 80-90% of resumes end in the “B” pile, e.g., because of an obvious experience mismatch, or in the “C” pile, e.g., because of a poor quality resume. I’ve been receiving resumes almost daily for review, and more than 90% are immediate “C” pile because of boring, “facts only” descriptions of experience, small font size, tiny margins, or completely irrelevant information. Your resume may be missing the “A” pile for nothing related to your “job gaps.” In today’s competitive market, only “A” resumes are likely to survive.
Reality #3 – Interview QualityHere’s one possibility where a candidate’s “job gap” may be directly responsible for rejection – but not because of the “job gap” itself. Interviewing several candidates, I’ve noted that “job gaps” are often explained very poorly:
- “Let me tell you about the jerk who ran that department.”
- “That company was so poorly managed…”
- “I just got burned out and decided to take a few months off.”