This article was first published in Display Ads Deep Dive.

 

In today’s hiring world, we can find around one billion prejudices that recruiters have just by looking at one PPC candidate’s resume. They have changed their job too many times in the last couple of years? Unable to commit. Have they worked for an entire decade in the same company? Too attached. Have they worked at X or Y company? Oh, they must have X or Y personality traits. Has this PPC been fired? Oh no, huge red flag. 

And just like that, we could go on and on. And the thing is recruiters, just as every other human being, have prejudices. Even though there’s this general belief that stereotypes and prejudices exist for a reason, often this is a mistake. People are way more than just one trait or just one experience, and it is not right to judge them based upon certain ideas that we have previously created about whatever it is that their stereotype looks like. 

So today, we’ll deep dive into one of the most popular prejudices recruiters have, how to approach it, and what it possibly means: is it a red flag that my PPC candidate has spent some time not working at all? Let’s jump in and find out!

The reason why 

As obvious as it may sound, there’s a reason why people have a gap between jobs or have been a long time without working. Maybe they took a year off because of a health thing, or because they had kids, or because they went to volunteer in Africa. You never know what’s going on in the other person’s life unless you ask them… so go ahead and ask them the reason why! It’s not ok to just assume that people stopped working because they were lazy and wanted to stare at the ceiling every day, forevermore. So the first thing to do when approaching a situation like this is very simple, just ask them what happened. 

The complexity of approaching it 

Since you never know what happened there, and we don’t want to just assume stuff, it can be a bit complex to approach the subject with your PPC candidate. I believe the best practice here will always be to start the conversation with a positive attitude, an open mind, and a big amount of respect and kindness. Maybe the story is super simple, but maybe it’s a personal thing, and either case requires sensitivity and good people skills. 

Giving chances 

So maybe your potential PPC actually has a complicated story about their work history, and maybe that story makes you hesitate about hiring them. But the thing is you want a PPC that really fits your needs and this one might be just it… if they hadn’t quit their jobs right after an angry rage against a colleague. And of course, it’s super important to consider that, but it’s also super important to not judge people on their worst moments. So maybe, just maybe, right after careful analysis, giving someone a second chance (especially if this may be your PPC match) can be incredibly worth it. 

Trusting 

During a hiring process, there will always be some red flags that recruiters will be paying attention to. So it’s super important that, during your entire PPC search process, you keep your radar on. Maybe your PPC will say that they in fact took a year off to help starving kids in Africa, but then you realize they were lying about something they put in their resume or that they said in another interview, so can you really trust them? Do you believe what they are saying? Or there’s a little voice in your head that says “hmmm…”. Well, being able to trust the employee you are about to hire it’s so important that, even if they do have a good story for their working gap, you need to take a step back if there’s something that just doesn’t add up. 

An interesting tangent to bring up is whether or not you are trusting them or having second thoughts about them because you are actually letting your work-pause prejudice get in the way. There are a lot of personality traits that can make us hesitate to believe what a person is saying (I would never trust anyone wearing an Adam Sandler t‑shirt, no matter what they do), and maybe yours is the fact that you just can’t completely understand what happened there or if the person can actually be trusted. And facing this scenario, there are two possible options: either you move on and look past your prejudice (and I’m well aware that’s a total facile) or you trust your gut and choose not to work with someone whom you wouldn’t feel comfortable with. 

Commitments 

Obviously, any time someone hires someone they are both making a commitment to each other: the PPC commits to work to satisfy their company’s needs, and their bosses commit to fulfilling the PPC’s expectations (payment, benefits, etc). But today we are talking about a different type of commitment. When a recruiter decides to hire a PPC that has, in fact, stopped working for a rather long time, then they are both making a different type of commitment: the PPC commits to, if everything goes well stay for as long as they are required, and their bosses commit to trusting that they’ll honor this commitment. Of course, this doesn’t mean that, if you hire a PPC that took a gap because they had kids, they’ll be banned from procreating ever again – it just means that, if that’s the case, then you will find a solution together to fulfill both of your interests. 

To conclude, I believe it’s super important to add that today’s world is different than it was some decades ago. People these days don’t always have the idea to get a job and stay in it for a lifetime, and that’s fine too! The important thing is to always keep an open mind and be able to understand the other person’s reasons and to listen to them without your cultural/prejudicial lenses.