Is Hiring a Candidate with Gaps in Their Resume a Good Idea?

gap year

In the past, you have probably been warned that unexplained gaps on a candidate’s resume could be a red flag. Interestingly, this may not be so.

There are numerous reasons why gaps in a resume shouldn’t concern you. Breaks from work could depict more positive things about a candidate than you may think.

When you think about it, a gap in a resume does not say much about a candidate’s professional trajectory. Life happens to all of us, and as an employer, it’s best not to be too rigid. Instead, consider the different reasons why someone might have taken time off from work.

Do gaps in a resume matter?

A lengthy, uninterrupted work history isn’t always a sign that a candidate is suitable for a job. If most of the candidate’s information looks good but includes an unexplained gap, don’t jump to conclusions before considering viable reasons for employment gaps.

A little shift in perspective can help you see that gaps in a resume are likely nothing to be concerned about! But if you’re still a little worried, below are some hiring practices that can assist you in evaluating candidates with employment history gaps.

Think About What You Are Genuinely Evaluating

The first thing you should do before you start writing your job description or reviewing resumes is to create an ideal candidate profile. Doing so will help you detail the skills and experience a candidate should have to fill the role. Then, consider what matters to you for this position.

Ask yourself what is more important, a perfect work history or a verifiable ability and a specific skill set? If a candidate has all the qualifications and skills you said you were looking for, does taking an extended period off work matter?

Hire For Growth Potential

Perhaps you would like a candidate to have several years of experience in your industry. And yes, sometimes that’s possible to find. But when faced with a limited pool of applicants, hiring for growth potential may be a better strategy.

You must look beyond the resume and recognize emerging talent to achieve this. And doing so can help you make great hires that stick around.

Be Conscious of Potential Bias

Most people have conscious and unconscious biases that can negatively impact recruitment. For example, gaps in a resume may lead you to mistakenly assume something bad about a candidate that may not be true.

Below are a few tips for how to overcome hiring bias:

  • Educate your hiring staff to be aware of hiring biases.
  • Refer to your Ideal Candidate Profile to evaluate candidates objectively.
  • Have standards for assessing resumes and steer all resumes through the same process.
Create Great Candidate Experiences

In the past, when it’s been an “employers’ market,” hiring managers could be highly selective. Today, job seekers have more options than ever, and application counts are down in almost every industry. Being too picky in a “candidate’s market” could cause you to miss great applicants.

A recent study found that most job seekers who turned down an offer did so because of a “negative experience during the interview process.” So, quizzing a candidate about the year he spent abroad may be all it takes to turn him off to your company and push him toward another company that respects experiences outside of work.

In a “candidate’s market,” it’s critical for hiring managers to adjust to the existing climate and ignore outdated concepts of what comprises a “serious applicant.” Instead, you can give candidates an excellent impression of your company and make the perfect hires by evaluating them based only on the things that matter for the role.


Abiding by the general rule “no resume gaps,” may cause you to miss out on star candidates. Being more generous and considering viable reasons for resume gaps—while reviewing them to hire and retain a diverse workforce—will clearly demonstrate to you that a gap does not mean much at the resume review stage. Later in the hiring process, you can get to know the candidate’s story and get a better feel for their career goals and motivations.

Avoid making assumptions and keep an open mind. Remember, the team at ALIGN has the knowledge and experience to help you through this process. Give us a call.

Recent Posts