When it comes to re-entering the workforce after raising a family, women don’t need to hush up as a new study has found that being upfront with potential employers about gaps in a resume is a better strategy.
Women, who want equal footing professionally, are usually given “Don’t ask, don’t tell” advice. This concept is so strong that many people on both sides of the hiring process think it is illegal, or at minimum inappropriate, to ask personal information about children or marital status. And recruiters and career websites often advise women to find “creative ways” to disguise resume gaps caused by family matters.
The research from two Vanderbilt Law School economists contradicts conventional wisdom and finds a female applicant strongly raises her chances of getting hired if she gives personal information clarifying her resume gaps. And employers are legally allowed to ask these questions as well.
Researcher Joni Hersch said the study provides the first-ever evidence that women who conceal personal information dramatically lower their hiring prospects.
Co-author Jennifer Bennett Shinall added that employers overwhelmingly preferred to hire candidates who provided information to explain a resume gap, regardless of content. Any information that could flesh out a woman’s job history and qualifications improved employment prospects relative to no explanation for an otherwise identical job candidate.
“Some issues like revised schedules or working from home can often be enacted so trivially and at such low cost, but they aren’t done because of concerns like ‘we can’t make exceptions for you,'” said Hersch. “What employers need to do is stop seeing these work/family balance issues as something exceptional because 80 percent of college educated women are in the workforce and they bear the majority of the childcare responsibilities.”
The research is in the paper ‘Something to Talk About: Information Exchange Under Employment Law,’ forthcoming in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.