Question of the day: Can a resume gap deem a candidate unworkable?

We will be discussing Recruiter best practices with dealing with candidate resume gaps today at noon as part of #RBChat, but what are your thoughts?


How big is too big when it comes to working a candidate that has resume gaps?

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I think that a gap of 2 years or more which isn't supported by a justified explaination can be too big when it comes to a resume gap. An unexplained gap can lead the selling of the candidate to be a very difficult and awkward process... thus making the candidate unattractive straight away to the client.


I would look at anyone's resume and listen to any reasons for gaps but I wouldn't necessarily base decisions on whether to send a candidate on to a client based on that gap... I would be interested to hear anyone else's perspective on that.


I work as a Career Coach and am an ex recruiter.. I often advise my candidates on how best to work with recruiters and find this subject a very interesting one.



Good question Tim.  There is no definitive answer and often times perception is more important than reality but there are things to look for as to how long a gap is workable.

  • Reasons: Maternity leave, military service, hospice care, hostile work environment, relocation, etc. are all reasonable explanations. 
  • How long is the break: If someone wants to regroup after a layoff that's fine.  Better have been doing something good and make it no longer than 6 months.
  • Look for trends:  I think everyone gets a get-out-of-jail free card, or two depending upon the years of experience.  However, if someone is unlucky (all the time) may be a good time to cut bait.

When to work a candidate with gaps also depends on what the client is looking for, how unique the experience is and how closely that candidate is a match. 

In this market I think companies/recruiters are a bit more tolerant of longer stretches so long as the candidate is demonstrating effort and they are keeping up on their skills.  However, with some companies openly not hiring candidates who are unemployed, I don't think this is the time to go find yourself...candidates should be getting right back on the horse.





I agree 100% with Christopher, especially now a-days.  The only thing is, people can work, just not in their field, at least till things change.  My clients like to know peoples skills are up-to-date, a lot changes in two years, so if you can consult, temp or volunteer that would be to your benefit. .The other thing is people can take some kind of classes; there are free ones around, in community centers, churches, unemployment, etc.  I know some activity in those two years is better then no activity.  Lastly, there are jobs out there (and yes for all ages) just not the ones you may want, but ones that may tide you over for a while, especially during the holiday season. 

There are good gaps and bad gaps on a résumé as Emily, Christopher, Terra and Greg point out. 


And, of course, there are people who actually work in a Gap...which can also be good or bad.


Only three things make a candidate unworkable in the case of "resume gaps"


1) not being a fit for the position in the first place


2) the candidate being unable to explain the gap properly during the interview process.


3) being presented by a recruiter who is less of a coach and more of a resume pusher who won't really work with candidates beyond the surface BS "interview preparation".

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