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(Don’t) mind the gap

March 21, 2018

By Shannon Reed, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The cadence of a person’s career is perhaps one of the easiest things to identify on a written resume.  Too many moves over a short amount of time has historically been viewed as a “red flag” for consideration along with the infamous “gap in employment” and the complicated reality of job regression.  Talent scouts often assume that hiring managers will point a wary finger at a resume with gaps, short tenures, or job regression and refuse an otherwise qualified candidate.  But is it time to rethink this mind set?

Recently, a tight labor market has some companies rethinking their “if-then” statements about tenure, gaps, and regression.  The normalizing of career changes, prevalence of work-life prioritization, observable generational mix and frenetic pace of high tech careers within today’s workforce is changing perspectives.  Shorter tenures and voluntary job regression are being viewed as consistent with the various, generational ideologies in the workplace.  Likewise, employment gaps that once short-circuited a person’s career are now being considered a potential reality of family, outcome of outsourcing, or job automation and economic volatility.

Talent acquisition has multiple opportunities to “salvage” qualified candidates impacted by these realities.  The first is to provide compelling data in support of a paradigm shift.   A quick scan of surveys offered by talent-focused organizations like LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, can be a valuable source of information regarding job seeker statistics. Secondly, come to the hiring manager table focused and prepared.  Whether you communicate directly with them or present candidates in written form, pinpointing candidate alignment with the job requirements should lead the discussion.  Next, in preparation for the inevitable inquiry into “red flag” behavior, get in front of the doubt by acknowledging that you see what they see (in other words, don’t forget to verify work history yourself; it looks sloppy if a hiring manager notices something you didn’t).  And lastly, have a compelling narrative rehearsed that supports further consideration of the qualified candidate.  

Even with a slow adaptation of this new way of evaluating candidate viability, the benefits of expanding the qualified talent pool are worth the extra effort it takes to effectively market candidates in a competitive landscape.

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