This resume mistake can reduce your chance of getting an interview by 45%

A new study has found something that will dramatically decrease your chance of landing a job interview.

What is it?

Work gaps in your resume.

As we have discussed before, we know there is a serious bias against unemployed applicants among hiring managers, and this study by ResumeGo demonstrates just how serious it is. In fact, applicants with work gaps in their resumes have a 45% lower chance of getting job interviews.

Applied for thousands of jobs with fake candidates

ResumeGo conducted a field experiment in which they applied to 36,510 job openings from across popular job boards using resumes for fictitious applicants. The experiment focused on two factors that may largely influence the significance of work gaps: the length of the gap and the reason for the gap. They asked whether the duration of a work gap affects a candidate’s interview chances and overall hireability, and whether disclosing the reason for a work gap made any difference.

Resumes used in the field experiment were based on those of actual job seekers, with modifications to identifying information. In the applications in which the gap was explained, both the resumes and cover letters submitted included a section that clearly explained the reason for the candidate’s work gap.

A three year long gap is where things get really bad

Perhaps not entirely surprisingly, longer gaps resulted in fewer callbacks.

There was a drop in callback rates with each additional year of unemployment up to five years. And, interestingly, the biggest decrease in callback rates was between applicants with two-year work gaps and applicants with three-year work gaps, a 53.1% decrease from 9.8% to 4.6%.

According to ResumeGo, “Though the reason behind this stark difference is unknown, it could be possible that employers are simply deciding that applicants who haven’t been unemployed for over two years are not worth taking a chance on.”

Yes, explaining the reason for your work gap helps

And what of disclosing the reason for the gap? Applicants who provided a reason landed nearly 60% more interviews

On average, applicants who provided a reason for their resume gap had a callback rate of 6.8%, which is 58.1% higher than the 4.3% callback rate of applicants who did not disclose the reason for their work gap. The number of callbacks was also dependent on the reason itself. For those who provided an explanation, these were divided into four categories:

1. Caring for sick family members
2. Attending to personal health issues
3. Receiving additional training/education
4. Raising a family

Applicants who said they received additional training or education had the highest callback rate of 8.5%.

This makes sense. As we have said before, a great way to fill your resume gap is to say you spent the time expanding your skillset, studying, training, or doing something that would otherwise make you more attractive to employers.

It’s not news that resume gaps can be the death of your chances at landing a job. Learn to fill them wisely. For more information how how to fill gaps in your resume, read this.

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