Due to the pandemic, the last two+ years forced an unexpected shift in employment status for millions of people. Today, as people move to rejoin the workforce, they are finding new challenges in getting hired, even though there is a shortage of workers.
Here’s one of those challenges: There is a stigma or bias toward people who have been off work for more than a year. Employers may assume they wanted to stay home and collect free money, that they may be out of touch with changes in the workforce, or maybe that they are desperate for income and don’t want to commit to the work.
In most cases, none of those assumptions are true. I believe employers are missing out on hiring talented people who are genuinely excited to return to work – and for all the right reasons. As a recruiter for the hospitality industry, I see an opportunity for both companies and job seekers to think differently about the hiring process.
Given the ongoing talent shortage, I’ll start with valuable tips for employers and hiring managers, and then provide guidance for candidates on how to get back onto your career path.
Advice for hiring companies
Too much time off? A gap in work history is not necessarily a bad thing. Many people didn’t choose a career break unless there was a valid reason, such as the need for child care, caring for an elderly parent or relative, or the death of a family member. Most of these candidates come back to work well rested and with a positive attitude. They are more than ready for reentry.
- Be open-minded about recent employment gaps.
- Look beyond the gap. If you see the resume of a candidate who has not worked for some time, consider what they did prior to taking time off. Do you see value in that experience? Just as important, are they a potential fit for your team and culture?
- Time is money, so ask yourself this: Is a 20-minute phone or Zoom call worth your time to get your open position filled? Be willing to hear their story before you close the door on them.
- Reevaluate what you need versus what you want (this is true for any candidate and role in today’s tight hiring market). If a candidate is 80% fit for the job, consider what type of training you are willing to provide that would make them 100% fit in a short time.
- Don’t lose a great candidate! Companies that are saying yes to candidates reentering the job market are often surprised and better staffed. Make that job offer.
Advice for candidates who have been off work more than a year
- “Why have you been out of work so long?” If you dread answering that question from a potential employer, simply be prepared. Have a concise and confident answer ready that lets the employer know it was the best decision at the time based on your temporary circumstances.
- “I’m ready!” Disclose your eagerness and ability to get back to work full-time.
- Don’t be defensive. Welcome and address any of their concerns and remain positive.
- Do your research! Carefully review the job description and focus on highlighting skills you possess that are relevant to the position. It also helps to learn as much as you can about the company.
- How did you spend your time off? If you worked part-time to make ends meet, don’t be afraid to put that on your resume. It illustrates your work ethic and willingness to work.
- Seek out a recruiter for help, support, and new opportunities in your job search. If you partner with a good recruiter, they can assist you with interviewing techniques, provide resume tips and advice for cover letters, and greatly expand the scope of opportunities that are available to you.
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Companies must stay focused on the business. Talent shortages divert that focus. Job candidates need access to jobs where their experience and skills are valued. We close talent gaps and build careers as true partners in everyone’s success. This year, Goodwin Recruiting is recognized for the third consecutive year by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and one of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms.
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