Pandemic Employment Gaps! Should You Ask Why?!

So, there was an HR Pro from Amazon who put up a post on LinkedIn, here it is:

She blocked me, so I can’t put the link to it. But you should check it out.

Jessica Lee and I discussed this on the HR Famous pod. I connected with Lisa on LinkedIn (she actually sent me an invite) and I privately told her I disagreed with her take. She didn’t like that, we went back and forth on our professional debate, and then she blocked me.

To be fair, I have zero issues with Lisa and her post. In fact, it’s a great topic of discussion, that we just disagree on. It’s a perfect topic for HR and TA pros to debate, and it’s perfectly fine for people to have different views on this issue. I mean, I’m right, so there’s that as well! 😉

Should we ask about Pandemic Employment Gaps?

My take on this is…Yes. We ask about employment gaps regardless of the timing. We asked about them in the Great Recession and we’ll ask about them in Pandemic, and we’ll ask about them during the next issue we face that causes large unemployment gaps.

We are HR and TA pros. It’s our job to find out this information for our organizations. There might be legitimate reasons for the gap, there might not be. We dig, we find information, we use this information to make the best hiring decisions for our organization.

One thing Lisa said to me in our private exchange was about these gaps have nothing to do with whether a person can do the job or not, so it’s irrelevant. Lisa, this is true.

But, we hire, it’s not just about finding someone who can do the job. It’s about finding the best person available who can do the job. So, asking a candidate who has a valid gap in their resume what they did during this time is relevant. Of course, they might have been taking care of family with Covid, may have be mourning the death of someone close who passed because of Covid, etc. Awful stuff. Hard stuff to talk about. I doubt highly anyone with half a heart would dig into this stuff.

So, if someone had a rough Covid spell, you would move on to other questions. But many also didn’t have rough Covid issues. Maybe they had time to watch 1,000 hours worth of Netflix, where they could have been taking a free online class offered by certain Ivy League schools. Maybe they could have been reading professional journals daily and networking within their space and having open, lively debates on topics important to their profession. Maybe they actually worked on some projects pro-bono that have relevance to our current opening.

I am not – 100% not – holding an employment gap against an individual. I am also, not going to stop doing my job in finding the best talent available for the jobs I have open. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. We can be empathetic to a candidate’s situation and still do our jobs.

To be fair, Lisa pointed out in her comments to me that most of the comments on her post were in support of her position. That’s because she is right. She is right in that we should not hold a “valid” employment gap against someone. But there are non-valid gaps during these times as well. That is my push-back. We have to decipher between the two, and that only happens by asking the question.

Okay, Lisa, I want to be fair and offer you this platform (FOTers – I can’t send her this personally because she blocked me, but let her know if she wants to platform, I’m willing to give it to her!) You can write a post, send me a video, whatever and I’ll give you equal space, promotion, and time to debate if you want.

To the FOTers reading, hit me in the comments with your feelings on this topic:

  1. Tim, you’re being an ass, and…
  2. Tim, you’re still an ass, but…
  3. Tim, as usual, you’re 100% correct, and still an ass…

The post Pandemic Employment Gaps! Should You Ask Why?! appeared first on Fistful of Talent.

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