Employment Gap Discrimination: What, Why, and How to Make a Difference

Employment Gap

There’s no doubt the employment landscape has changed dramatically over the last several years, with a marked change during the height of COVID-19.

Many employers are finding it challenging to fill needed roles, but it’s not 100% due to a “shortage” per se. It’s related more to employment gaps and companies being hesitant about hiring team members who have work gaps on their resumes.

Another––unrelated but noteworthy––factor that could be contributing is the wave of freelance and remote work that has become increasingly popular, as more top talent are taking their skills and marketing them to companies and businesses who pay well, instead of merely trading their hours for dollars.

Why the Employment Gap Discrimination?

Often, employment gaps on resumes are viewed negatively, indicating a red flag for potential employers. However, the idea that workers with gaps in their history can’t step back into a work role and be productive is a bit of a myth. There’s no good evidence to back it up.

Many of these workers may even possess valuable and unique skills that could benefit a potential employer. After all, there are many reasons a person may be unemployed, and not all of those reasons are related to poor performance or questionable background.

With that said, how a worker presents information in a resume could be more important than the actual information. Creative workers could still manage to turn a deal breaker into a deal maker if they play their cards well.

What Contributes to Employment Gaps?

There are many reasons a worker might have employment gaps. Sometimes an employment gap may be because of job termination. That could be because they were fired, but it could also be related to downsizing and layoffs.

Another reason might be they left voluntarily. That could mean they quit for personal or health reasons, or maybe the job was a toxic situation, and they simply decided they wanted something better for themselves.

Perhaps they quit a job because they had to relocate to another city or state for some reason. You honestly wouldn’t know unless you ask questions because a resume may not state the why, only the what.

Additionally, many workers who have been out of the game for more than six months may face additional hurdles, such as:

  • Transportation issues
  • Childcare issues
  • Criminal histories
  • Lack of experience

Despite those hurdles and work gaps, many of those workers may well be highly qualified for the role they’re applying for, with many years of expertise under their belts and multiple soft skills employers look for, yet they’re still passed over because of the work gaps.

What You Can Do as a Company

While there are no perfect solutions, companies can help make a difference in helping to solve this problem by being open to learning more about a potential new hire’s work gaps and not making rash judgments about their capabilities to perform the duties that would be required of them. Another big difference you can make is committing to more inclusive hiring practices.

For instance, evaluate how strict your job role requirements are. Comprehensive job listings with a long list of desired skills and accolades could put perfectly qualified candidates off, regardless of whether they have job gaps or not.

Even the best of the best could find the hoops to jump through not worth their while, so that’s something to think about. Those with job gaps may just decide they simply aren’t good enough to stand a chance.

It’s important to evaluate what kind of qualifications you expect them to have. Not all potential candidates may have a traditional or formal education or 5-10 years of experience. That doesn’t make them any less qualified for the role, but it will make them think they aren’t qualified, which means they won’t even apply.

You could also remove the request for criminal history disclosures so that all applicants have a fair shake at the job without being discriminated against for past mistakes they have already made restitution for. Evaluate potential new hires based on their skills, experience, and willingness to do the work, not their past.

Though it sounds a little hokey, it ultimately falls on businesses to be the change they want to see in the workforce climate. If you’re struggling to find good people to fill roles you desperately need to be filled, perhaps you need to take a strong look at your current hiring processes and find ways to improve them and simplify them. Don’t let work gaps in a resume be the stumbling block to finding hidden gold to add to your team.

Let StellaPop take the whole thing off your hands with our Recruitment Services. Talk to the experts and find your ultimate dream team! 

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