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So what were you doing in this 2 year gap?

A large gap in employment history seems to jump out at you when everything is listed in chronological order on crisp white paper. As an employer you might automatically assume the reason for the unemployment is negative, making the candidate less desirable than the one with the stable employment history.

Here are some answers to watch for when asking a candidate about their break from employment:

  1. “It’s a bad economy right now, no one was hiring.”
    Really? No one seems like a bit of a stretch. Look for an answer that shows the individual is able to take some accountability for their unemployment, not someone who feels helpless. For example, the combination of a slow economy and mistakes made while job searching, demonstrate ownership and ability to learn from mistakes.
  2. “I used to be pretty good with an abacus.”
    If someone has been out of the industry for a while, how do you know they aren’t going to be out of touch? If they have taken the time to do the research to get up to speed with the changes, and challenges, and current trends in the industry, you’re seeing initiative. Freelance or volunteer work to stay involved is an even better demonstration of their effort to keep their skills up to date and in practice.
  3. “I was backpacking around…”
    This is increasingly common with Gen Y’s perception of the world as borderless. With everything just a plane ticket away, taking a gap year is the thing to do. This is great because it demonstrates their ability to adapt to new cultures, and a desire to build global context and networks. An open mind and ability to function out of their comfort zone are good qualities for a new hire.

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