When you’re hiring for tech positions, it can be tempting to toss out any resume with a gap of six months or more. Employers often think if somebody is unemployed for a long time, there’s something wrong with them. But the truth is, there are some legitimate reasons behind this. And if you ignore every candidate with a gap on their resume, you could be missing out on a significant pool of talent.
Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons why you may want to consider candidates like these.
1. Their Reasons for a Gap Are Solid
It’s becoming more and more common for people to leave the workforce temporarily to care for a family member, and this will only continue as the Baby Boomer generation continues to age. But taking time off to care for a new baby or sick relative doesn’t tell you anything about a candidate’s skills, performance or dedication to work.
The truth is, many people face caregiving dilemmas over their lifetimes — and that includes sharp, efficient, talented IT professionals. So the next time you see a resume with a large gap taken for caregiving, remember that you could just as easily be in the same boat one day! It’s also important to remember that there’s a very real dearth of IT professionals in the US right now. You don’t want to limit your talent pool any further than it’s already been limited.
2. Their Technical Skills May Not Be Impacted by a Gap
With all the options for independent study, online classes, certifications and more, it’s possible that a candidate has taken time off from a formal job, but they haven’t taken time off from keeping up their technical expertise. If you see a resume with a sizable gap and it concerns you, check out their technical proficiencies section. Some people might even have a better arsenal of technical skills after taking time off from the workforce — they may have used the time off to learn more than they would if they were working.
3. Their Base Technical Skills May Transfer Over
Especially recently, companies will hire candidates with strong, basic foundations of technical skills. Then, they’ll just teach them the technologies they lack. This works because there are many languages a candidate can learn that will prep them to quickly and easily acquire more languages. Even if a candidate was out of work for a period of time and isn’t up to date with Python, for example, they might still have Ruby on Rails. Knowing Ruby on Rails will make it easy for the candidate to pick up Python and perform a role that requires it.
[Related: Anatomy of a Resume: The Recruiter’s Guide ]
4. Their Soft Skills May Be More Important Than Anything
As mentioned before, candidates can be (and often are!) caught up with technical knowledge on the job. But IT recruiting companies find that for some roles, companies prefer to hire based on soft skills. Then, they’ll catch them up on the technical skills they need. For some roles, like Helpdesk or Sales Engineer, having soft skills is imperative. They're arguably more important than having the right technical skills or experience. For instance, a Sales Engineer who is charming and engaging with clients, but needs to learn SAP on the job, is still a better hire than a candidate who knows SAP but is rude and off-putting to clients.
Samantha Keefe is an Interactive Marketing Manager at AVID Technical Resources. AVID Technical Resources is a leading information technology recruiting company with offices around the country.