Hire People With Career Breaks!

Recently, I met a business owner. He founded and runs a business of about 100 people that is rapidly growing. It is an impressive success story. They were looking for a CFO. The management team so far has been all male, so they were looking to hire a woman to add diversity to the team. Applaudable.

They engaged a headhunter and searched for six months. None of the candidates had the experience they were looking for – several years in a senior finance function with M&A expertise and startup experience. These are rare candidates, and they became increasingly frustrated. Ultimately, they hired a man with the required experience, but he did not fit into the company’s culture.

When we talked, I asked him what was missing. He said that many female candidates did not have the required experience or had gaps in their CVs. That made me think. My first inclination was to jump on the obvious: Women had career breaks because of family obligations. But that made me think further. I was not content with the apparent conclusion.

What if we turned it around? What if we only looked for people with career breaks – regardless of gender? What impact would this have on the company culture and society?

People taking a career break not only but also for family reasons bring a different set of experiences back to their workplace. This will enrich the way we look at topics, add diverse and creative thinking to the discussion, and help us address the difficult issues. More of the same experience only gets us so far. Solutions to the big challenges and breakthrough innovation do not come from more of the same. It requires diverse views.

Therefore, my recommendation to all recruiters: Look for the people with career breaks! These are the ones you need!