By Kevin W. Grossman
"If there are employment gaps or stints shorter than a year, screen 'em out."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because that means there are deficiencies, problems and/or they're flaky job jumpers and can't be trusted. We've got clients to service with viable candidates with continuous work, and that means at least one year per job," the client services manager answered.
I frowned. "But, what if our matching software identifies them as viable candidates? Shouldn't we still keep them in the short list?"
"No, screen 'em out."
"But that doesn't make good business sense until they're at least moved along the funnel and at least phone screened."
The manager laughed. "Are you serious?"
Yes, I thought. I am.
That was almost 12 years ago when I worked briefly as an internal sourcer and recruiter for a recruiting software and services company.
I thought it was unfortunate then just I think it unfortunate now how we still hold these gaps and job hops against job applicants, especially those who have been out of full-time work for any length of time, even if they've cobbled together part-time or project work just to stay alive. (The contingent workforce is on the rise.)
Sure there were 120,000 jobs added last month, which seems like a job market that's simmering, but 8.6% unemployment barely makes for an electric hotplate. Another 315,000 walked away from their job searches last month.
Or maybe there are those of you, like me, who've walked away from full-time jobs and experimented with entrepreneurial endeavors and self-employment and contract work, and may even continue to do so. Then begins the riddling of your resume with slight disfigurements that can be quite misleading. Wait, did I say resume? I meant your portable online profile. Remember, I want the resume to die.
Here's my advice to you job seekers who have any or all of the above in your work history:
Tell a story, keep it real and make your business case.
I mean, I can't help you with backward employers whose HR pros, recruiters and/or hiring managers don't look beyond the bullets on the paper, but you can still help yourself in the telling. I've been a writer throughout all previous professional incarnations, and still am, and although I'm learning every day, I understand a little about the mojo of good story.
For starters, do you know that section in your LinkedIn profile titled "Summary"? That's an opportunity for you to do more than just say I've done blah, blah and blah, because that's one of the first things folks scan when they're looking at your profile, besides your picture. (And yes, it could be your "summary" atop your resume, if you insist.)
Use the professional "Summary" sections across all your online networks to immediately highlight:
- Your career objective/s and/or what you love to do.
- How your previous and current experience validates your career objective/s.
- Your results and accomplishments and how they could benefit a future employer, partner and/or investor (hey, you never know) even if you're not "in the market."
- Your personal interests and how those round out your world as well as for a future employer, partner and/or investor.
I'm working on mine even as I write this article. Write economically but make sure not to be too vague; specificity and the right keywords are critical for you to be found and get read. Use your voice and keep it real.
It's really a never-ending story, one that you should review and revise regularly at least every few months to ensure you're making your business case.
Because no one's going to make it for you.
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