With all of the resumes we receive - as you might imagine – we've seen it all. The Good, the Bad and yes, the Ugly. But like the old adage goes, all that glitters is not gold, and the same can be said when making assumptions about a candidate based solely on gaps in their resume.
When I first started out in the search business, I was taught to review career progression and the chronology of start and end dates for each position held. While that's customary behavior for most of us when we do a quick scan of resumes in a stack – you really shouldn't draw conclusions too early in the game. You may find that you missed the mark - in some cases, by miles! It’s happened to me quite a few times.
Over the years I've learned that major gaps in a resume are often due to big life changes. Putting in black and white - memorializing the reasons - why there's a gap by only adds to the pain, and many candidates will omit the details for deeply personal reasons. Basically, it just hurts too much to see the details and share them with the rest of the world.
I’ve personally interviewed candidates who took time off to:
· Care for a dying parent or spouse
· Recover from a serious auto accident
· Go back to school to finish college or get an advanced degree
· Regain energy from a highly stressful life event
· Join the Peace Corps for an extended period of time
· Recover from a serious life-threatening injury or illness
· Mourn the loss of a child
The bottom line is that there should be NO assumptions on your part (or mine) about gaps in a candidate’s resume until you can get more information. Look instead for the reasons why this person could be a great addition to your team based on their skill set and experience (knowing that part of your due diligence and your hiring department or search firm will be to gather the reasons for the gaps). You could be blowing off a great hire – or not. But you'll never know unless you or others ask more questions about gaps in a resume. Ronald Regan said: “trust but verify”. I say “ get the facts before you decide to eliminate a candidate from consideration”.
You may be glad you did!