Employees reentering the workforce require special considerations during the hiring process and once onboard with an organization. The challenge for Human Resources is to look beyond a job gap in a resume in order to find qualified and talented individuals.
When screening resumes, don’t pass over an individual with good experience and skills just because of a resume gap. There are many reasons why an individual leaves the workforce for a period of time:
- Military service
- Child care duties
- Pursuing an advanced degree
- Switching careers
- Caregiving for a family member
- Illness or other personal need
An applicant should be able not only to explain a break in their job experience, but also to explain how that break actually enhances his or her resume. A candidate with military experience may have gained management, procurement, logistics and technology skills. Someone returning to work after rearing a family can bring communication, organization and marketing experiences. Charitable work can encompass financial management, budgeting, public relations and fundraising. All of these are transferable and can benefit your organization.
Don’t dismiss individuals with gaps in their resumes. Remember, you’re searching for applicants with the right skills and experience for the job. Use the interview process to probe further and ask about any resume gaps. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask about any missing periods of time.
Don’t assume applicant is overqualified. A person reentering the workforce who has new or changed family obligations may be looking for a more flexible job at a lower pay level and with less responsibility. Don’t dismiss this person as overqualified for your position, as long as he or she is willing to accept the job’s pay rate and level.
Consider the whole person. Look at all activities, paid and unpaid. While out of work, the individual may have done some volunteer activities with a charity, local government or school administration. Use the interview to explore and uncover skills that may transfer to the position in your organization.
A small gap in technology skills can be accommodated. If the required job skills include technology skills, ask if the applicant has kept current with technology even out of the workplace. A quick brush-up may be is all that is needed using your organization’s in-house or external training arrangements.
Retirees come with successful track records. They have demonstrated that they are experienced, reliable and dedicated employees with a good work ethic. Employees who retired from another organization experience short learning curves, lower absenteeism and positive attitudes in new positions.
If your organization offers flexible employment options, such as part-time employment, flex hours and job sharing, this may be ideal for individuals reentering the workforce. These arrangements can help workers deal with the transition to the workplace and accommodate their personal obligations at the same time.
Assigning a mentor to an employee reentering the workforce can help ease the transition, especially if the mentor has had similar experience. Also, be sure to explain your organization’s Employee Assistance Plan to the new hire. Because of their special circumstances, it will be comforting for these individuals to know about the many benefits and easy access to your EAP during their employment transition period.
Hiring employees who are reentering the workforce creates a win-win situation, so that the best candidates gain meaningful employment and successfully fill your positions.