Gaps in Employment from a Recruiter’s Perspective

October 17, 2013 by Raymond Lee

This really is a tough one for recruiters. Time off from the workforce doesn’t necessarily mean anything negative, but you never can really tell. Candidates are fully aware that gaps, no matter the reason, have the potential to keep them from landing the job they want. This means that candidates might stretch the truth, attempt to cover up the gaps, or fudge previous employment dates, and so arises an entirely different issue of being dishonest. Should candidates be honest and risk being passed up because of their employment gap, or cover up the truth and risk being passed up for being dishonest?

The employment gap truly is a challenge for job seekers because of the stigma that comes along with it. Because gaps in employment are so taboo, recruiters are always left wondering about the validity of reasons for the time unemployed. Online payroll provider Sure Payroll, surveyed business owners to find out how common stretching the truth on a resume is. Here are the findings:

  • 21% of respondents reported that they have hired dishonest employees.
  • 47% of respondents say their bad hire was caused by a candidate who lied in an interview.
  • 79% said that they hired employees with mismatched skills or who underperformed on the job, disproving claims made on the employee’s resume.

There are a lot of reasons for this dishonesty among candidates, and covering up employment gaps is a big one. From a recruiter’s perspective, the longer the employment gap, the harder it is to place the candidate. Bullhorn conducted a survey of 1,500 recruiters and hiring managers on the subject of job hoping and gaps in employment.

According to the respondents, the main obstacles for placing unemployed candidates are:

  • 39% said job hopping.
  • 31% said being unemployed for more than one year.
  • 28% said gaps in employment history.

The longer the candidate has experienced unemployment, the worst it looks to recruiters and hiring managers. In other words, unemployment can mean being unemployable. According to the same infographic,

  • 36% of respondents said that it becomes difficult to place a candidate if they have been unemployed for 6 months to 1 year.
  • 17% said it becomes difficult to place a candidate if they have been unemployed for fewer than 6 months.
  • 4% of respondents say that it is difficult to place a candidate no matter how long the duration of unemployment is.

The difficulty of placement doesn’t plateau after that one-year mark either, it only gets much worse. Candidates who have been unemployed long-term (two or more years) are harder to place than someone with a non-felony criminal record.

If this isn’t a case for offering outplacement services, we’re not sure what is. Employment gaps are quite often not a choice. Layoffs are still quite common among most industries across the nation. Offering outplacement services to transitioning employees increases their chances of getting placed. Not only is placement made easier, outplacement services get workers back in the workforce quicker. The faster unemployed workers can get back to work, the brighter their future looks.

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee is the President of Careerminds, a global outplacement company based in Wilmington, Delaware. He has over 20 years of human resource, outplacement, and career consulting experience. He has his bachelor’s in psychology and holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Louisiana Tech University. He is active in SHRM and ATD. Raymond’s been featured on SiriusXM Business Radio, CareerTalk, and the Wall Street Journal and he’s published a book titled, Clocking Out: A Stress-Free Guide to Career Transitions.

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