August 2, 2023

Cracking the Career Code: Is It Necessary to Explain Your Resume Gaps

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Episode Highlights

How to Define a Gap in Your Resume and is it Necessary?

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0:29

Are Hiring Managers Focusing on Tenure when Hiring?

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4:51

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Join Matt and Kierra in another episode of “Cracking The Career Code” as they delve into the nuances of job hopping and resume gaps. Gain valuable insights into effectively managing career transitions and navigating periods between roles. Explore the innovative new LinkedIn feature designed to enhance how you address these gaps. Additionally, discover why partnering with recruiters can be a strategic advantage in your job search, especially when dealing with these considerations.

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Cracking the Career Code with Matt and Kierra, where we provide candidates the keys to success in their job search. Today we’re going to be discussing how to explain gaps in your resume or “job hopping”. So Kierra, what do you think? Do job hopping or resume gaps need to be explained in someone’s resume?

Yeah, I think this is really just a point by point basis. I think that sometimes it’s good to define a gap, but other times it’s not really necessary. I think just in today’s market and even with Covid, there’s a lot of reasons why people have had gaps in the resumes. Yeah. And there’s just kind of different ways to navigate that.

I think one thing to really think about is the tenure of your roles and then how long were the gaps in between those. If you have a three month gap, I would say that’s pretty normal if you are switching careers or got laid off. And there’s nothing to really mention in between those three months in my opinion that would really hinder your ability to receive an interview.

If you were doing anything with professional development or freelance work that you could mention, I think that’s always a great thing to add. But I don’t think it’s necessary. If you do have longer gaps in your resume, there’s different things that you can add or do to explain those. Just because I know some hiring managers do look for that, unfortunately.

So Matt, you have, recently found out about a LinkedIn feature. Yeah. Can you just walk us through what that is and what you can do with it? Yeah, so LinkedIn recently added a feature where you can add a career break to your LinkedIn profile, and there’s tons of different options that you can add under that.

So bereavement, a career transition, caregiving, full-time parenting. You took a gap year maybe after you graduated to do whatever, travel. Who knows? Layoff or position eliminated. Health and wellbeing, mental health, personal goal pursuits, professional development, relocation, travel that I mentioned already. Voluntary work or even retirement. Maybe you had plans to retire and then had to go back to work for whatever reason, or wanted to go back to work. And you can also add a description under any of those reasons that LinkedIn gives you to explain what you did during that time and why you took it off.

So, definitely a helpful feature for LinkedIn. Yeah, you could also put something similar to that on your resume. Again, if you had a gap that might be more than about three months or so. Yeah, and I’ve had individuals where they’ve had like a three month, employment and then there were layoffs and they were like, should I add this?

And I really think it’s up to you and what you think, is important to keep in your resume. But there are so many reasons why people have gaps, and I don’t think there’s one thing that’s more important than another. Your mental health is important as well as all the other things that Matt mentioned.

I know that Matt, you have worked recently with a couple candidates where they had some gaps. Do you want to explain that conversation? Yeah. And how you kinda approached that. Yeah. So I had a candidate recently, they had joined a consulting business, not through Hirewell but just had found the role on their own.

And they were like two to three months into the role, they had survived a round of layoffs shortly after joining the company. And then they were still just kind of like waiting to get assigned to a client. So, Monday through Friday, they really weren’t doing anything and they weren’t being asked to do anything.

They didn’t have projects or clients to work on. So I suggested on his resume just to show like why he might be looking for a job. So soon after starting this new one is just joined as a consultant and currently on the bench awaiting assignment. So that just kind of shows that, “Hey, I joined this company and they haven’t used me yet,” right?

“So I’m looking for something where I can make a bigger impact,” that kind of thing, right? And that happens. And I think that it’s important to be able to explain that when you are looking for a new role after starting one so quickly, not every role is what you think it’s going to be, unfortunately, as you’re told in the interview process.

Another thing we’ve seen is hiring managers sometimes being picky about job hoppiness and gaps, when them, themselves are job hoppy. Sure. Or, we’ve also experienced it more commonly with managers looking for people that have had tenure of 10 years at a company or five plus years at a company.

And that’s just not how things are these days. I mean, I would say people are leaving companies more often every three to five years just for I. The salary increase and other growth opportunities. So I just don’t think that’s a very common thing to see or ask of people that are going to be joining your company.

Yeah. People leave for more money all the time. Yeah. And there’s this kind of mantra in tech recruiting, and it says that the engineers that change jobs the most are usually the ones that are the highest compensated so. Yep. You can’t really blame ’em. Also people just get unlucky. They join jobs, they get caught up in layoffs.

The jobs aren’t what they expected. They get an offer for a lot more money that they can’t refuse or, more remote flexibility, whatever the reason is. Like, people are going to change jobs and they’re not always going to stay at a job for three plus years or five plus years, like some more old school hiring managers might want to see on a resume.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s also important to note that like some of these people that are looking for candidates that aren’t job hoppy have also had to do layoffs at their own company, which is also part of the gaps and job hoppiness, that is caused by hiring managers laying people off and companies not being able to employ employees after a short amount of time.

So, I think those are all things to think about and I think we need to really think about. How we are searching and sourcing for candidates in this day and age and just being realistic. Yeah. But why do you think it would be a good idea to go through a recruiter? Like how do we help candidates in this process if they do have a gap or are switching jobs every so often.

Yeah, so we as recruiters, we advocate for the candidates that we’re presenting to our clients, and we have a direct relationship with the hiring teams and hiring managers at those client sites. So where if you’re just applying to a job online and maybe you get your resume and a cover letter that explains some of this job hopping or like resume gaps.

Like if you go through a recruiter like us, we’ll talk directly with a hiring manager. Explain. Why you change jobs more frequently than they’d like to see, maybe why you had a larger gap in your work history. And then we can also be realistic with them and explain kind of all those trendy buzzwords that we’ve heard through the past three years or so with Covid and the great resignation and quiet quitting.

And then now, most recently just rampant layoffs with talk of a Recession and poor economic times, kind of in general. So, we can kind of be more realistic with people and the people that are making the hiring decisions and take a consultative approach to recruiting where we’re not just, throwing resumes at the wall to see what sticks.

Exactly. And I’ve worked with a candidate recently who hasn’t been working for the past nine months because their child had cancer and they needed to be home with their child and provide care. So I was able to explain that to the hiring manager and it was one of their top candidates that they had go through the process.

Yeah. So I think it just makes sense to have the conversations with recruiters so that they can explain that for you, and they aren’t just looking at your resume and seeing that you haven’t worked the past nine months, but we can explain that for you, as to why you haven’t been working and that there’s other things that were more important happening in your life.

Independent consulting, we’ve seen that a bit. Do you want to kind of just explain what we mean by independent consulting? Yeah, so I think this kind of started as a meme or like a TikTok. I think I even posted a meme about this say a few months ago. And the meme that started was like if someone asked you, can you explain this gap in your resume?

One of those dreaded interview questions that no job seeker ever wants to explain. You could just say, Oh I wish I could explain that, but I signed an NDA. Like, okay. Yeah. It’s a funny joke, right? But, not a very valid way to explain a gap in the resume. And I think some people are looking at this as like some real advice.

Right. Didn’t have a scenario here where candidates said that they couldn’t discuss what they’ve been doing for the last year because of an NDA? Yeah. Yeah, they said that they’ve been doing independent consulting. So I was asking for some specific examples on the projects they’ve worked on, and they said they couldn’t because there was an NDA. But this should not be used as a placeholder.

We can definitely tell if you’ve actually been doing the work that you say you’ve been doing. If you can’t give us examples or speak about the projects that you’ve been working on, then we’re going to be able to tell that there probably hasn’t been much work going on in the independent consulting space.

Even with an NDA, like you can share some high level generalities about what you’ve been working on, even if you can’t share specifics. Yeah, exactly. You can share exactly what part you played in your role and what types of projects you were working and that sort of thing without naming the company.

So don’t use this as a placeholder. If you’ve actually done it, we will be able to tell, because you’ll be able to speak about it and give us specific examples without giving anything away. So, did you have anything else that you wanted to add about that topic or anything else we’ve discussed? Yeah, no, I think, you just listen to this sound advice. Don’t follow memes and TikTok job search advice, and you’ll be more likely to get an interview even if you have some job hopping or some gaps in your resume.

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us today on Cracking the Career Code. Go check out talentinsights.hirewell.com for more content and follow us on LinkedIn if you’re not already. Alright have a great day. Bye. Thanks everyone.

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