Recruiters and hiring managers have unconscious and conscious bias and judgement based on employment intervals can be one of the greatest organizational impediments for success.
But if organizations attempted to understand black holes in employee resume the way astrophysicists strive to understand black holes in the universe, they could uncover concealed information about candidates that could prove valuable for the position, but might not be attained through interview, questionnaire or psychological assessment. Therefore, instead of distracting interviewers away from employment gaps, interviewees should pull future employers right into them.
Show you’re a good match
Many valuable organizational resources are consumed during the hiring process; therefore, organizations do their best to find the most promising candidates. One approach to an applicant’s assessment is based on the concept of “fit”. Three different types of “fit” exist— the first two are relatively easy to attain, the third is legendary. A person-organization fit is focused on how well an individual “fits” within the organizational culture. A person-job fit is focused on how well an individual “suits” the job he or she is hired to do in two aspects: personality and skills. The legendary option is the combination of the two in which a candidate demonstrates both organizational and job fit.
Candidate’s evaluation based on the level of “fit” is essential, because in many cases, it predicts the future success of the recruitment. In this context, the employers’ tendency to mind the gap could be explained by their look for “fitted” employees, which in their opinion translates to well-planned, long-term objectives achieved by following a gap-free career path. Additionally, employment gaps predominantly create a big question mark, and most organizations do everything they possibly can to avoid any kind of ambiguity. Therefore, the candidates have the responsibility to replace question marks with exclamation points and prove they are a perfect match for both the job and the organization.
Before you apply for a position, perform a thorough study of the company’s mindset. On the website, focus on the mission statement, values, and social responsibility initiatives or activities. Sign up for the company’s newsletter, which is a great resource for learning about the organizational culture, latest news, and employees’ appreciation. Additionally, search for recent articles about the company.
Then go back to your resume and elaborate about previous positions that are aligned with the organizational culture, mission, and social responsibility commitment at the expense of positions that are not. In the cover letter, explain how the skills and the experience you’ve gained during your employment gap would come in handy in the position for which you are applying. During the interview, gravitate the conversation towards the black holes and give specific examples of the way your core competencies, which you’ve acquired throughout the gap period can be valuable to the organization.
The past counts but the future is pertinent
The 21st century’s lifestyle dictates modifications. Gone are the days when people worked from nine-to-five, were mostly involved in physical labor, and remained in the same work place for forty years. Today, we live in a fast-paced, ever-changing business environment that promotes employment mobility and career transformations. In such eco-systems, employment gaps could be one of the best predictors of employees’ growth and future successes, because like in the universe, black holes exhibit a strong gravitational pull that could help evaluate candidates’ personalities beneficial to the position and the organization.
If you are an educated, skilled professional with employment gaps, you could contribute more to organizations than a similar candidate without gaps. You are the employee any smart forward-thinking organization would like to have. You are a curious, creative, risk-taking, self-directed, adaptive, agile, and adjustable individual who may exhibit unique problem-solving skills, which are powered by a situation analysis and a complex decision-making process.
The fact a skilled technical writer took off a year or two to write her debut novel and DJ-ed on the weekends to support her family presents a candidate who is responsible, creative, and dedicated to her mission. If an IT project manager traded her career for her family for a few years that should suggest she has her priorities straight, possesses a high-risk tolerance, and follows her values and beliefs. A successful art teacher in her 40s who took off a few years and returned to school to study architecture should give a clue this candidate has a vision, and she is unwilling to settle for anything less than what she can achieve.
Candidates with these exclusive core competencies are the catalysts of innovation and growth. They are organizations’ most-prized possessions, and most likely, they would be the ones to help the organization achieve and sustain the competitive advantage. Therefore, stop feeling inferior and instead display pride, and show you’re the organization’s legendary option as you fit both the job and the organization due to your unusual or creative career path.
A word to employers
Employers should keep in mind that hiring a candidate with employment intervals is anything but compromising. Important to remember is that a candidate with years of work experience from which she didn’t take on growth challenges is worthless to the organization, while a candidate with a modest experience from which she evolved and changed is invaluable.
Sharon Nir is the author of The Opposite of Comfortable: The Unlikely Choices of a Career Immigrant Woman (Viki Press/May 2016). Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, she holds a Bachelor of Art degree in Language and Literature from Tel Aviv University, and an MBA in Marketing and International Management from Northeastern University of Massachusetts. Sharon, her husband and two children reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit sharonnir.com and connect @sharonvnir and facebook.com/sharonvnir for more info.