I'm interested in hearing how others "dig" into reasons why certain people are unemployed for months at a time. I had a conversation the other day with a candidate whose resume had a last work date of November 2007. I asked why she hadn't been working since then and she said "I have been searching for the right position". That's not an acceptable answer to me, since there are plenty of jobs out there - in or out of your field - if you're hungry. So I asked how she got her bills paid. Ok, probably not the most PC way to ask the question, and in hindsight I have regrets but at the same time, how motivated is someone like that? Obviously she's not the one for me, but it still baffled me.

How do others pose the right question to get at more information surrounding this topic?

For the record, I offended her and she hung up on me. I laughed and called the next person on my list.

Views: 105

Comment by Alaina Marie Lynch on September 12, 2008 at 4:35pm
I've had candidates use this statement in the past and what I do is dig into their definition of "the right position" to determine what they really want and why they have been unable to find it. For example "What opportunities have you been pursuing?" "Have you refused any offers and, if so, what did those opportunities lack?" This usually triggers spin-off questions and can help me weed out the BS.

I've run into alot of Executives leaving their company after a long career who were offered very attractive packages that gave them the opportunity to take time off before jumping into their next role. Very often these packages also give them the ability to be picky when it comes to their job search. If they are being too picky this could be an excellent time to provide your wisdom (if they're willing to listen) and manage their expectations.

I hope this helps!
Comment by Jenny Jones on September 12, 2008 at 4:41pm
Very true; good feedback. Thanks. This candidate was a sales person, so severance or not, good sales people are hungry and want money. And can't sit still. In any case I appreciate the other ideas. I'll bite my tongue and try these in the future, instead :)
Comment by Devin Blanks on September 12, 2008 at 5:07pm
Wow Jenny,

"How did you pay your bills?"! That is HILARIOUS!!!. But I can understand. No matter what the reasons though, it can definitely be a challenge to market a candidate that has been out of the workforce for almost a year. However, as Alaina mentioned, time off BY CHOICE is much more marketable, albeit sometimes viewed as being lacsadaisical or too idle.

In assessing the candidate, I usually ask myself how this individual will come across to my client. Will they view this candidate as truly TOP-TIER, or simply as a job board responder, and a desperate attempt to fill a job. In my opinion, 10 months is too long to actually be without a job, especially if they've been actively looking. Even with a stellar background, many employers would probably view this candidate as unsuitable.

P.S. I'm still laughing.
Comment by Michaela Holmberg on September 12, 2008 at 5:27pm
As a recruiter, we're usually the liaison between the potential employee and the potential manager so I usually put it on the manager. I had one candidate that has a 7 month gap in their employment history and I told them "Listen, I want to make sure that this position is the right position for you too. It sounds like you may be. If _____ (the manager) sees this gap in your resume, they're going to ask me why it's there. If I don't have an answer for them, they're going to assume the worst. But, if you have a good reason, I can probably word it the correct way so that _______ will understand."

This lets the candidate know that you're on their side and that you need to know to help them out. If they're still not willing to disclose anything, then they're either a top-secret spy or they have something they need to hide. Either way, they probably wouldn't be a very good candidate.
Comment by Jenny Jones on September 12, 2008 at 5:29pm
Yup. Open mouth, insert foot. I'm still laughing too but it was wrong of me to ask that way. Oh well. What recruiter hasn't done something completely inappropriate? Besides, if she hung up she had something to hide. I agree - choosing to be unemployed can be marketable. I'll never know about that one ....

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