Three Considerations to Keep in Mind When Candidates have Been Out of Work


Adding a new worker to the team is always an important decision. Ideally, they meet the position’s requirements and fit within with the culture. The intent is to pick the best person for the job and the hope is that they will succeed, but there is always some level of uncertainty.

Overtime, hiring managers can become accustomed to searching for certain red flags, using them as rapid screening devices. While this may help companies avoid certain hiring mistakes, it can hurt their chances of hiring a great individual. One red flag that should not lead to an immediate elimination is a recent gap in work history.

A resume from a seemingly outstanding candidate trying to re-enter the workforce, could be a hidden gem. Special circumstances may have led to the employment gap, and the individual may still be a nearly qualified and highly driven employee. Instead of blindly discarding all candidates, handle each on a case-by-case basis. While you should not ignore the following red flags when considering candidates who are just re-entering the workforce, do not use them as the cause of an immediate elimination.

1. Outdated Skills

When someone has been out of work for awhile, falling behind is understandable. Instead of judging them for not having all of the latest skills, consider what they do have to offer and gauge their level of enthusiasm to catch up. If the candidate knows that their skills need a bit of polishing, but presents them self as a fast-learner who is eager to get up-to-speed, they might be able to catch up and eventually excel.

2. Lack of Recent Experience

While a lack of recent experience may be a disqualifying factor in many instances, consider examining all facts before writing off a good candidate who is only lacking in a particular area. Instead of assessing experience based on recent accomplishments, gauge the individual’s previous experiences and their current passion for the work. Do they have experience that is transferable? Have they completed recent coursework in the field? Are they gaining relevant knowledge while volunteering? Read between the lines to determine whether they have a serious hunger for the work, or they are simply a candidate who wants a job — any job.

3. Hard-to-Reach References

Prior to making a hiring decision, checking references is a prudent choice. While gainfully employed candidates should have no trouble, this might prove more of a challenge for those who have been unemployed for an extended period of time. Cut them a little slack and work with them to find quality references.

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A career in construction administration and management can be (and for me has been) one of constant transition. It’s rather common that employment with a given company starts and finishes with each successive project; you’re a new hire as it’s just getting “out of the ground,” then finished and looking for a new project (and Read More…

Greg Wangler, Pentagon Construction Management Division

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