6 Entrepreneurs Share Views on Hiring Candidates With Employment Gaps

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)‘s purpose is to help entrepreneurs achieve their full potential by enabling life-enhancing connections, designing shared experiences, and providing collaborative learning to help them grow to new levels of leadership. We asked some of our 14,000-plus members to share their views on candidates who’ve been out of work for more than six months:

Would you hesitate to hire a potential employee who’s been out of work for six months or longer?

“I’ve been in the recruiting field for over 17 years and have worked with thousands of candidates. I believe gaps in employment should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and should not be a reason to eliminate a qualified candidate. Focus on understanding the gap instead of simply ruling out the candidate. It’s important to consider the impact this thought process can have on women in the workforce, who often experience gaps exceeding six months after having kids. Ruling out a qualified candidate due to a six-month gap can result in a lost opportunity to hire a driven candidate who is ready for their next challenge.” –Carrie M. Schochet, EO Detroit, founder of Purple Squirrel Advisors

“I am not hesitating to hire people who have been out of work, assuming they fit our criteria regarding culture, skills, and ability. I’ve recently hired multiple people who were out of work for six months, and I’m very excited about their potential.” –Tom Bemiller, EO Philadelphia, owner of The Aureus Group

“I have no concerns with hiring someone who’s been out of work due to the pandemic or any other reason, as long as the candidate shows continued engagement and progression in their field. Our company’s core focus is recruiting and staffing in the creative, digital, and marketing space. I look at factors including whether they’ve been freelancing, updating their creative portfolio with passion projects or volunteer work, and embarking on continuing education courses. There are some amazing creatives on the job market currently.”  –Katty Douraghy, EO San Francisco, president, Artisan Creative

“The pandemic changed the way we look at employment gaps. Some of the reasons for these gaps could be taking care of family members, staying home to quarantine, or home-schooling children. A large number of unemployed people right now are not currently seeking jobs. Once they start searching, I believe we need to hire based on experience and character without judgment on 2020 employment status. Skills don’t erode in just one year, and quite possibly the exact opposite could occur: A significant break from the workforce could rejuvenate and energize employees who were burned out from a previous position. Maybe they’ve hit the reset button and are ready to start fresh with a new outlook and energy.” –Tom Rauen, EO Iowa, founder and CEO, EnvisionTees.com

“The meetings and events industry was the first to be affected by the pandemic and will be the last to recover. As a business owner, I was forced to lay off some amazing people. They were–and still are–highly skilled, professional, competent individuals. And, their expertise is transferrable to many other industries: No one hustles harder than event managers! If I could hire every one of them back tomorrow, I would. For now, all I can do is encourage their potential new employers to pay no attention to that gap.” –Carol Galle, EO Detroit, founder and CEO of Special D Events

“While a six-month stint with no work may have been a red flag in years past, Covid-19 has erased the stigma. In fact, now is a better time than ever for companies to snap up incredible talent that is available purely as a consequence of Covid. Several of our clients are aggressively hiring because they realize that there’s a glut of talent at the moment. It’s an employment market that favors entrepreneurs and businesses looking to acquire top-flight talent at a lower price than we’ve seen in years.” –Evan Nierman, EO South Florida, founder and CEO of Red Banyan

“We are hiring people with potential that we can train on our systems. We almost see it as an advantage: Being out of work for six months makes talented professionals more likely to take a chance on a different company or industry. If they’re smart, talented, and a good cultural fit, it’s a benefit to our company.” –Will Caldwell, EO San Diego, co-founder and CEO of SnapNHD

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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