LinkedIn recently announced that the company has fully launched a new profile feature called “Career Breaks” that enables users to explain gaps in work history. The company wants to help remove the stigma associated with career gaps, a phenomenon that has significantly increased since the start of the pandemic. For example, parents left jobs to become full-time caregivers and teachers to children due to schools or childcare centers being closed, the high expense and/or lack of room at those that were not, as well as the desire to keep children home out of concern for the family’s health.
At CA Search Advisors, we are excited to see LinkedIn working to address the career gap issue, something that hindered candidates well before COVID-19. Candidates that left the workforce to raise children, take a sabbatical, or care for an ill family member have been dismissed simply because the recruiter, hiring manager, or applicant tracking system (“ATS”) cannot find an explanation for the hole between 2015 and 2017 on a resume. This is a topic CA Search continues to address, as referenced in the 2018 article Be Prepared to See Work Gaps and the updated 2020 version Continuing to See Work Gaps. We have urged employers not to rule out candidates, but to take the time to explore their stories. In addition, we have encouraged candidates to embrace those career gaps by proudly telling that story and identifying significant experience gained during that period.
As employers and recruiters that value people and diversity, we have a unique opportunity to welcome this candidate pool back to the workforce. We can override the ATS and listen to each candidate’s story in order to understand if and how that candidate fits into our organization. We have the ability to broaden the traditional definition of work and appreciate how different experiences, skills, and backgrounds apply.
- A scientist that took a year off from work to stay home with children due to COVID-19 and ended up teaching science to all of the neighborhood children, is definitely working. Volunteer teaching may spark interest in and lend itself nicely to a career in science education, in training, or as a scientific journal editor.
- When a healthcare company hires a nurse that took two years off to care for a sick parent, that nurse understands patient care from a family member’s point of view and has been a patient advocate. Who better to have in a family liaison or patient advocacy role?
Again, valuable experience, skills, and newfound passions may come out of career gaps.
For candidates, LinkedIn makes it very easy to use the “Career Breaks” feature. Simply go to your profile, select “Add to Profile” in the top section, then click “Add Career Break,” and select “Type.” LinkedIn provides a wide range of options from professional development to travel to caregiving as reasons in the drop-down menu.
In addition, candidates should explain that career gap in their resume or cover letter and highlight any experience obtained. Be proud to say; “After working for ABC Company for five years, I traveled extensively throughout Europe and Southeast Asia for two years. I started a travel blog after the first month that has two million followers. World Magazine asked me to turn my Vatican City entry into an article. In addition, I am fluent in French and Spanish. These skills will benefit me greatly in a communications position.”
Thank you, LinkedIn, for helping to shift the perspective on career gaps with “Career Breaks.” This timely feature will help hiring professionals and candidates embrace them.
This article was written by Amy Bauer, Managing Principal, CA Search Advisors, LLC. CA Search Advisors is a national executive search firm, focused on the real estate industry. Our managing principals, Katie Becker and Amy Bauer, have a deep inside knowledge and extensive long-standing relationships as a result of working directly in the industries they serve. You can rest assured that you are in good care and in the hands of a firm you can trust. Let us bring the best talent to you!