Recruiter insights – employment gaps and redundancies

We asked our directors Julian, Simon, Rob and Pete three questions about interviewing or reviewing candidates embarking on a new role or getting back into the work force after some time off.

We asked them to share their insights on:

  • Best advice for candidates to discuss gaps in employment history
  • How recruiters understand and respond to redundancies
  • What recruiters are looking for when they ask ‘why are you looking for a new role?’

Here’s what they said.

Best advice for candidates to discuss gaps in employment history.

Many job seekers have gaps in their CVs, for a number of reasons such as travel, caring for children, caring for elderly relatives, study, the list goes on. However, the biggest mistake is leaving the gaps with no explanation. At best this looks like an omission, and at worst it looks like someone has struggled to find work and therefore has some issues attached to them. The best and most simple way to avoid confusion is to list your gaps chronologically with your career history, but clearly explain why you took a career gap. It can be a brief one liner but it is powerful, explains the situation and allows the person reviewing the CV to move on without question. – JULIAN

I was washing my hands and filling in tracing apps! But on a serious note, COVID came so unexpectedly and the consequence for some has was a restructure / redundancy resulting in an employment gap. You wouldn’t be unique in this situation, what you must be able to convey is what you did during this gap, for instance any upskilling? Undertaken an online course? Proactively looked at roles at all levels having updated my CV and LinkedIn profile. – SIMON

Be honest. A break to look after a sick parent or child is totally fine, as is taking some time off to recharge and review where you want to go in your career is fine too. – ROB

Just be honest but bring out the positives, upskilling, holiday, etc. – PETE

How recruiters understand and respond to redundancies

We live in an environment where redundancies are common place, this has been the case since the GFC in 2008 and hasn’t really changed since. Experienced recruiters understand market conditions and they will treat a redundancy situation like any other situation where someone has moved on from a role. The fundamentals of interviewing, reference checking and general background checking come into play and these fact based checks answer any questions needs for a persons reasons and motives for leaving a role. They also address any performance questions that could be attached to a person moving on from a prior role. In other words redundancies no longer have the stigma attached to them that they may have done in the 90’s or early 2000’s. – JULIAN

How recruiters understand and respond to redundancies
In some ways we are in it together, we understand that redundancies do happen and even more so at the moment, we may know the organisation that is going through this process. It shouldn’t be a negative reflection on yourself in any way. – SIMON

Recruiters should always try and walk in their candidates shoes. They should ask themselves, “what if it was me sitting on the other side of the table?” and be empathetic to the situation. – ROB

We understand that it can deeply affect our candidates. We will do our best to be proactive with our clients, turning around a tough situation in to a “look who’s available”. – PETE

What recruiters are looking for when they ask ‘why are you looking for a new role?’

Recruiters are specifically looking for job seekers who are looking to grow their skills, learn more, develop their leadership or technical ability, and when we ask “why are you looking for a new role” we seek to understand those motives of a job seeker. For the recruiter this works twofold, it enables us to identify the job seekers who are ambitious, driven and hungry for growth, as well as assisting us in matching the same job seekers to the aspirations of a new role. It is only when job seekers goals align closely to those of a new employers requirements and goals, the tenure and success in this new role follows. – JULIAN

We want to see what the motivators are to look around? Ideally it is for a career progression where you have demonstrated you’ve outgrown your current role and there is nowhere else for you to move or it may be for a new environment which will give you that fresh challenge. We are also looking for any negative hooks such moving purely for more money, moving as you no longer like your manager, this can reflect purely upon yourself. – SIMON

They are trying to establish if there are any problems that have occurred in the last role, so they don’t place the candidate in that position again? – ROB

We like to help candidates for the right reasons. This will ensure that we are able to pair a candidate to the right client. Examples – a new challenge, a better work/life balance. – PETE