Share This Article:
Back to Blog

Career Breaks: Not a Recruiting Red Flag

Career Breaks: Not a Recruiting Red Flag

From those early in their careers to long-time veterans and even those re-entering the workforce after an extended break, candidates are searching for new opportunities in the current job market. But should a gap in work experience on a resume be a red flag to hiring managers?  Read on for why candidates with career breaks are proving to be a valuable asset to an organization, rather than a red flag.


What Is a Career Break?

A career break is an extended full-time break from the workforce for a variety of reasons. This break can be short-term with only a few months of absence or even a more extensive long-term break of a year or two. Career breaks have traditionally been seen in academia, in the form of a sabbatical initially starting as unpaid or paid leave from academic careers. But they have slowly become more acceptable in companies outside of academia. 

There are many reasons that employees may take a step back from their careers. Some reasons are circumstantial such as medical issues, layoffs, or the pursuit of new professional development. Other reasons can be personal, from starting a family to the caretaking responsibilities of a loved one. 

It used to be a red flag for a candidate when there was a gap in their resume but organizations are starting to become more understanding, especially when the competition for top candidates has increased.


How Career Breaks Encourage Skill Development 

While career breaks are viewed as time off from the workforce, skills development often does not halt. According to a LinkedIn survey of 23,000 workers, nearly 56% of respondents stated that they learned a new skill or improved an old one while taking time away from work. When stepping away from a full-time schedule, employees may find time they didn’t have before to focus on skills development, bringing more to the table upon their return.

It’s important to note that even when employees step away for personal reasons, they may see unexpected growth in their skill set too. For example, a parent who steps away from work to raise their children or care for a loved one in need, may find tremendous growth in time management and how to lead/manage people. When it comes to adding talent to your team, it’s important to focus on the skills the employee brings to the table without solely focusing on their career timeline.


How Your Organization Can Shape Recruitment Efforts to Include Those With Career Breaks

According to LinkedIn’s survey results, nearly 62% of respondents stated they had taken a break in their professional career, with 35% of women saying they will take one in the future. With career breaks popping up on resumes more often, here are a few tools your organization can use when tapping into this talent pool during recruitment:

  • Thoughtful and Intentional Questions: To better understand, it’s often crucial to get context first. In fact, 51% of employers stated they would be more inclined to speak to a candidate if they had context as to why they took a career break. When entering a recruitment season, plan ahead with thoughtful and intentional questions to ask candidates with a gap on their resume. For example, you may want to ask a candidate an open-ended question regarding their time off, such as:

“I noticed you took a little break from the workforce. What did you learn professionally and personally from that experience?” 

This type of question allows the candidate to elaborate and showcase any skills they learned, giving the hiring manager further insight.

  • LinkedIn’s Career Breaks tool: After conducting their survey, LinkedIn launched a new Career Breaks tool on their platform that allows candidates to specify the reason behind their break. The candidate can show off new skills they learned during their workforce absence by providing details on their LinkedIn profile. If your organization utilizes LinkedIn as a screening tool, it’s wise to spend time reading through the candidate’s experience to learn further details before their first interview. 
  • BerniePortal’s Applicant Tracking System: Adding new members to your organization should be a team effort. Utilize BerniePortal’s Applicant Tracking System to collaborate with other internal decision-makers and keep tabs on each candidate throughout the hiring process. Each candidate is equipped with a profile within the hiring manager’s BerniePortals accounts, making it easy to keep track of key information provided by the candidate. The employee profile is a great place to add context to a career break for fellow internal decision-makers to read through before their time with the candidate. 

Additional Resources

You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with important HR topics using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics
  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

New call-to-action

Share This Article:

Related Posts

We just wrapped up another phenomenal Weekdays with Bernie (WWB) Conference!

Employees are the heart and soul of an organization, and valuing their opinions can have...

HR parties of one already have an abundance of tasks to keep up with. From hiring to...

The talent search is no longer a skirmish or a battle. It’s a WAR! As a strategic HR...

Submit a Comment