JOb seekers with gaps in their employment may face emplOYMENT discrimination when re-entering the workforce.
Looking for a new job in the new year? After a career break — whether voluntary or not, short-term or long-term — explaining resume gaps to hiring managers and recruiters is a common concern. It's also a valid concern. Many workers face employment discrimination when re-entering the workforce, largely because career breaks deviate from the "ideal worker" pattern of continuous employment.
But a recent study in Nature Human Behavior found one resume writing technique that increases the chances of securing an interview for those with resume gaps by 15%. The secret is simple: don't call attention to any gaps by displaying work experience in a different format. Instead of providing the traditional start and stop date of the job (for example, May 2020 — May 2022), researchers listed the number of years the applicant worked in each job. This technique effectively obscured the work gap.
Women are particularly impacted by resume gaps due to caring responsibilities, and the prevailing advice is to "explain the gap." While the skills it takes to be a parent undoubtedly translate to the workplace, researchers found no evidence that this strategy works any better than having an unexplained gap. In the eyes of employers, a gap is still a gap.
It's time to throw out negative stereotypes regarding employment gaps
There's clearly larger work to be done in the diversity & inclusion space to help reduce discriminative hiring practices. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs hosted a roundtable last year to discuss the challenges workers face when re-entering the workforce after unemployment. SHRM published a session round-up highlighting several groups in particular that face discrimination. It's not just women returning from maternity leave. Older workers, those who experience mental health conditions, and ex-prisoners are more likely to face employment discrimination — lengthening their employment gaps.
That said, LinkedIn states that job gaps will become increasingly normalized due to a variety of well-founded reasons. Priorities have changed post-pandemic. Many resigned from their roles to focus on more purpose-driven work. Some realized that they wanted to change careers and took time to re-train. And more and more people are taking mental health breaks.
Rethinking outdated assumptions
Overcoming outdated biases around ideal candidates and the linear career path isn't easy — but businesses can make strides forward. One tip is to take blind resumes one step further. Blind resumes are those that have been stripped of any identifying information so that recruiters are less likely to succumb to any unconscious bias. Recruiters can request that all resumes be submitted with years worked instead of dates. And we would all do well to remember that an employment gap does not necessarily equate to an unskilled candidate.
Source: The Top Resume Tip To Overcome Employment Gaps
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