Employers: Give a Chance To a Candidate With a Gap In Their CV!

Last Updated on December 26th 2023

March 21st 2022

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  • According to research, applicants with gaps in their CVs are, on average, 45% less likely to get invited to an interview than others.

  • This is despite there is no scientific evidence to back up the statement that professionals with a gap in their CVs as well in their career paths are less productive than others.

  • In practice, career breaks can be a sign of the strong orientation on self-development and maturity.

  • In this article, we discuss why it is worth giving a candidate with a gap in their CV a chance, and we provide a list of solid explanations for career breaks to look forward to as a recruiter.

Tell Me About The Gap In Your CV: The Nightmare Job Interview Question.

Some time ago, we released an article dedicated to job hunters who struggle with pitching the gap in their CV during job interviews, entitled “How To Explain A Gap In Your CV? Professional Development, Personal Development, or Wasted Time?” (please also take a look at our YouTube episode dedicated to the same topic).

This time, we would like to flip the tables and take the perspective of the employer. Namely, to talk about why it might be a great idea for the employer to accept an employee with a gap in their CV.

Do Employers Indeed Have Preference For Hiring Candidates Without a Gap In Their CV?

Yes, research strongly suggests that employers still prefer hiring employees without gaps in their resumes and career paths. The recent field research by ResumeGo revealed that applicants with gaps in their CVs are, on average, 45% less likely to get invited to an interview than others. The difference was especially pronounced among professionals with a gap lasting for more than three years.

Why is this the case? Well, one might think that the main difference between a candidate with and without a gap in a CV, as well as in their career path is the difference in knowledge levels. Simple arithmetic – the same age, less experience and fewer skills, hence, less value for the employer.

And, there would be a simple remedy for that difference in experience: a bit lower paycheck. In fact, it is not all that simple as the crucial question for the employer is: how did the gap in the CV as well as in the career path even come about?

The issue lies in the potential implications of the long-lasting gap with respect to the candidate’s work ethic and personality in general.

What employers fear the most, are employees who are unfocused, lazy, without work motivation, overly fragile, entitled, self-centered, and mentally unstable. In other words, an attitude that could be summarized as a proverbial “snowflake.”

Additionally, employers also traditionally search for signs of loyalty. Thus, they view a few long-lasting employer-employee relations as more promising than a long list of short contracts in a CV. 

Large organizations tend to receive hundreds of applications per position. In such circumstances, any warning signs suggesting that the candidate might be any less than excellent or disloyal can be a reason for early elimination. In a sense, automated elimination of candidates with career gaps is nothing else than time management with that respect.

The View at Gaps In a CV Is Slowly Changing For The Better.

However, according to Business Insider, to employers, gaps in a CV are not viewed as so much of a problem as they used to be in the past.

Namely, while careers used to be linear and well structured a few decades ago, today, more and more professionals decide to change not only jobs but also professions during their professional lives. And often, quite a few times! (as nicely explained for example, in Emilie Wapnick’s best-selling book “How To Be Everything?”).

Obviously, changing career tracks naturally triggers incubation time and delays between subsequent jobs. No wonder that, according to the aforementioned ResumeGo study, the employers were the most welcoming to the candidates who pointed to extra education as the main reason for the gap in their CV.

And, in general, employers prefer to see the gap in the CV well explained, preferably as early in the recruitment process as possible (for instance, in the cover letter). In other words, it doesn’t pay off to try to ignore the elephant in the room.

It is all about openness, integrity (as mentioned in our recent article “Integrity: Why Is It Important For Your Professional Development and Why Do Employers Seek Integrity?”), and building trust between the employer and the employee.

Employers want to know the reasons behind the pivotal decisions in the candidates’ careers and their personal motivations to better predict their future behaviors and reactions to problems.

Yet still, the problem persists and the candidates with a gap in their CVs are often skipped in the recruitment procedure. Is this a real problem though?

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Are Professionals With The Gap In Their CVs Any Less Productive?

Actually, there is no scientific evidence to back up the statement that professionals with a gap in their CVs as well in their career paths are less productive than others. In fact, it was even shown that in some circumstances, disconnecting from professional life might serve in the long term.

According to the study by American Gap Association, a non-profit organization collecting data for gap year students, students who chose a gap year were more likely to graduate with high grades than those who didn’t.

In fact, many professions involve huge gaps throughout the year by design, and that doesn’t diminish the work motivation or professional skills. For instance, in many countries (including, for instance, Poland) academic teachers go on a mandatory 3-month summer break every year as the summer vacation in higher education lasts from the end of June until the end of September. 

In the American job market, a 3-month gap between two jobs would already be considered a “gap in a CV” while in Poland, it is just a statutory break. And, academic teachers don’t become any less motivated from taking long vacations – rather the opposite.

Also, mind that conservation law works as well: the day only has 24 hours, and while the candidate with a gap in their CV was not formally working, they might have been engaging in lots of interesting activities not mentioned in their resume.

It could be almost anything: entrepreneurship, via making personal investments, to reading books and taking online courses, so working on personal development. People often skip such activities from their resumes as they erroneously classify them as irrelevant.  

What a Career Break Might Mean In Practice.

Of course, many professionals take career breaks because of their family situation. But in many cases, this is a voluntary decision with the sole purpose of self-discovery and self-development. 

During such a conscious career break, most people maturate and learn better what they truly want from their professional lives. They can also better explore their career options, which allows them to calibrate better in the job market and make fewer mistakes with their next career choices. 

In fact, many accomplished professionals in all disciplines famously took long career breaks, only to come back later with more energy and disrupt their fields, including, for instance, Elon Musk, Steve_Jobs, and J.K. Rowling

In that sense, a candidate with a career break is a big unknown before you give yourself a chance to talk to them – they might be the next snowflake, or the next big creator or entrepreneurial mind.

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How Human Mind Rests.

One should also remember that the human mind rests on at least three different timescales. First, it needs to reboot every night. Secondly, it needs at least a day of a break over the weekends. Lastly, it needs a long vacation once in a while.

But, is there any research on optimal vacation duration? We do not know too much about the natural rhythms of the human body, but the traditional vacation lasting between one and three weeks might not be enough to fully retrieve the capacity and productivity of the human mind.

According to a recent survey, most travelers declare to be fully rested after 8 days of vacation, but is this really enough to rest your brain on all levels? Not necessarily.

It might turn out that when accepting an employee after a yearly career break, you’ll gain a rested and ultra-productive team member on board, with levels of energy unmatched by anybody else!

The Reasons To Look Forward To Career Gaps in Resumes.

As mentioned before, the fraction of the workforce who admit to a career gap in a CV is growing. As an employer or hiring manager, you might consider looking favorably at career gaps in candidates’ CVs for two major reasons.

Firstly, revealing a career gap during recruitment process is a sign of honesty and therefore, high integrity

Currently, the trend to tune up resumes is a widespread problem in human resources management. According to a broad 2019 State of the Recruiter study from monster.com, 85% of the 1,700 participating recruiters revealed that they frequently interview candidates that embellished their skills and experience on their resumes. Only 30% of surveyed recruiters described the majority of applicants as fairly honest about their professional expertise.

Secondly, career gaps are not necessarily unproductive. For the most part, they are a result of a conscious decision and associated with personal growth.

In turn, candidates with a career gap in their CV can, paradoxically, have more to offer as professionals than those whose CV is impeccable. Particularly promising reasons for a career gap are as follows:

1. Additional Training or Educational Program.

It is a clear sign of a lifelong learning attitude and as such, gives great prospects for a solid, hard-working, open-minded, and flexible employee who is self-critical and dynamically adapts to the changing world.

2. Voluntary Work or Humanitarian Mission.

This experience might signalize maturity, empathy, and integrity, traits of a perfect employee in the post-pandemic world dominated by international, multicultural teams.

3. Starting a Business.

Entrepreneurial spirit can be utilized in so many ways! Even if the business didn’t work out, the spirit of innovation, the willingness to take initiative, and the ability to make independent decisions are invaluable for leaders in any workplace.

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Conclusion: Why Is It Worth Giving a Chance To a Candidate With a Gap In Their CV?

According to research, hiring managers who take more time to make the final decision, are also more successful in spotting the right candidates.

Therefore, heuristics such as eliminating all candidates fulfilling a specific criterion (for example, a career gap) might be highly suboptimal. It might prevent you from spotting a real gem in the job market – someone with top skills, an entrepreneurial mind, and a truly unique professional story!

Furthermore, a career gap can increase motivation to work and prove oneself after a long break. If you, as an employer, give a candidate with a career gap a chance, they might become some of your most loyal and determined employees.

Lastly, let’s talk about statistics once again. According to a global survey of 22,995 workers and 4,017 hiring managers conducted by Censuswide on behalf of LinkedIn (January 2022), the majority of professionals active today took a break at least once in their careers. Moreover, A recent report by ManpowerGroup reveals that 84% of Millennials plan significant career breaks for the future.

Even more so; for many people these days, walking away from “traditional” career paths for some time, or even for good, becomes plan A rather than plan B. 

As described in the Paul Millerd’s best-selling book “The Pathless Path,” for millions of professionals, breaking out from the system and living independent life, taking risks and seeking fulfillment more than status or money, has become the synonym of professional success.

Career breaks are the new norm; that’s a fact (please also check our article: “Career Breaks Are the New Norm! On the Importance of Career Breaks in our Professional Development“).

So, if you are looking at a CV without any breaks, what is the chance that it is an honest CV – versus a bleached version of someone’s story? Perhaps, it is good to go with honesty in the first place.

Moreover, top leaders tend to find common tongue with workers coming from various backgrounds and learn from their employees rather than cherry picking team members with the exact same life experience. Perhaps, it’s time to give a chance to job candidates with nonlinear career paths and bold decisions under their belt!

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We will help you choose the right career path, assist you in landing your new job, and teach you self-navigation strategies that will guarantee your success in professional development, and serve you for a lifetime!

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2021, March, 21st). Employers: Give a Chance To a Candidate With a Gap In Their CV! Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/why-it-is-worth-to-give-a-chance-to-a-candidate-with-a-gap-in-a-cv/

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