Employers are being called on to end the practice of asking for dates on CVs, in a bid to protect the millions of UK workers at risk of ‘career gap stigma’.

Research released today has revealed that one in three Brits have taken a career gap (a period of 6 months or more out of work, through choice or necessity). 

But, 53 percent of them would feel more confident applying for jobs if they did not have to share the ‘gap’ with employers.

A campaign, called #DontMindTheCareerGap, is calling on employers to assess employment histories more fairly by asking candidates to share the number of months or years they spent in previous roles, instead of specific dates.*

 

Childcare and health needs lead to career gaps

Of the 33 percent of British adults who have taken a career gap, childcare was the most common reason. 

This was cited by a quarter of respondents overall, but the majority of this group were women. 

A staggering 38 percent of women who has taken time out of work cited childcare as the reason, compared to just 11 percent of men who had taken time out of work.  

Mental or physical health was the second most common reason for taking a career gap, cited by 20 percent of all respondents. Health was the most common reason amongst men, cited by 23 percent of male respondents.

Redundancy was the third most common reason overall, cited by 10 percent of respondents.

Also, 9 percent of people have taken time out to care for a friend or relative. 

 

Employees would prefer not to share their career gap with employers 

The research showed that over half of British workers (53%) who have taken a career gap would prefer not to share it during a job application. 

This figure rises to 77 percent amongst C-Level Executives, suggesting it can be more difficult to return to work following a career gap if you’re looking to re-enter the workforce at a senior level. 

However, the #DontMindTheCareerGap research also revealed that over half (51%) of respondents believed that they gained new or transferable skills, or enhanced their existing skill set during their career gap, pointing to a disconnect between employers’ and employees’ perceptions of career gaps.

 

Employers and recruiters believe that time out of the workforce leads to ‘skill fade’

In an additional survey of 200 HR professionals and employers carried out by Applied, over a third of respondents (35%) confirmed that they believed taking a career gap of a year or longer can result in skill fade.

Almost half (49%) believe that candidates who have taken a career gap should be prepared to explain their time away from work to prospective employers. 

Wider research also highlights the stigma facing those returning to work after a gap. Research from the government’s Behavioural Insights Team found that when CV dates are replaced with the number of years of experience, call-back rates for candidates improved by 14 percent compared to candidates with a ‘gap’ on their CV.  

This is why the #DontMindTheCareerGap campaign is calling on companies to remove specific dates from candidates’ employment histories.

 

Khyati Sundaram, CEO of Applied, comments:

“At Applied, we champion ethical and inclusive hiring. We believe unconscious bias has no place in recruitment – and that every candidate has the right to be judged purely based on their skills. Which is why we’re campaigning to end the stigma surrounding career gaps. The stigma that persists continues to hold strong candidates back. 

“We want employers to help level the playing field for all candidates by evolving their application process so that candidates with career gaps cannot be screened out of the process early. By removing employment start and end dates from CVs, and using a skills-based hiring model, employers can build an inclusive hiring process that empowers all candidates to showcase their skills – no matter where, how, or when they gained them.

“Candidates should not have to explain their career gap to employers beyond the extent to which the skills they gained qualify them for the role at hand. The notion of ‘skill-fade’ during a career gap is a fallacy and we want to ensure all candidates are given a fair and equal chance to succeed.”

 

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.