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Nine-month resume gap ignites discussion on grief and hiring practices

The 34-year-old's reply to a recruiter’s critique of the bereavement gap sparked debate on Reddit.

Nine-month resume gap ignites discussion on grief and hiring practices
Cover image source: Pexels | Photo by fauxels

The loss of family can be profound and destabilizing, requiring a great deal of time to get one's life back on track. There is no timeline for dealing with grief, but Reddit user @NeitherDepth5290 was shocked when the 9-month gap in his resume following a personal tragedy was questioned.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Christina Morillo
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Christina Morillo

"Last Friday I (…) went on 3rd round of interviews, which was generally the last one before I'd be hired,” the man, 34, shared. “It was a company I worked for before but new management, overall I had a good experience(…), so I thought why not." He added, "[The interview] was with the people that would be my direct line manager, their direct manager, and the recruiter that approached me."


After the user sat down for the interview, the recruiters asked why his resume had a nine-month gap in 2020 and if that was because of COVID. Initially, the user simply answered that no, the gap was not due to COVID. When pressed, NeitherDepth5290 shared that the gap had been to mourn “the loss of family.”


According to NeitherDepth5290, the interviewer’s blunt response was, “A loss of a loved one doesn't justify a 9-month gap in your resume.”

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

At this point, the 34-year-old found it increasingly difficult to keep himself together. "The reason I needed that much time was that 2 weeks before lockdowns came into effect, both my parents and my 2 siblings died in a car crash. A drunken truck driver ran a red light and hit my dad's car while they were heading home. I would've gone with them as well, were it not that my boyfriend lived 5 minutes away and I was going to sleep at his, otherwise I would've also been in that car."


He told the manager, "Perhaps losing one loved one doesn't warrant that long of a gap, but losing both my parents and my siblings at the same time in a car crash does." The room turned quiet and awkward at that point, and NeitherDepth5290 excused himself.


"After the interview,” NeitherDepth5290 went on, “the recruiter contacted me and said that my response was uncalled for, my grandparents also said that it was not tactful at all to have said like that, whilst my fiance said it was good to have put them in their place, as a resume gap is none of their business."

Image Source: Reddit | u/elastin1
Image Source: Reddit | u/elastin1


In the comments section, Reddit users defended NeitherDepth5290, criticizing the company's questioning of an applicant's personal decisions about grief.


User @u/candyshopprop, replied, "I had a gap due to the death of my child. A recruiter pressed me hard on it, and I persistently told him there was no way I was discussing the reason why. And if the company didn’t want to hire me because I wasn’t willing to share my private life with strangers, then so be it. It’s awful the person commented on how long it takes to grieve. No one has any right to decide how long it takes for anyone else. Most importantly, you don’t have to tell anyone!"

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Cottonbro Studio
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Cottonbro Studio


The experiences of NeitherDepth5290 and @u/candyshopprop highlight the conflict between personal loss and professional expectations. Their stories have sparked online discussions about the need for sensitivity in the hiring process, emphasizing respect for individual grieving processes and suggesting a reevaluation of corporate practices regarding personal disclosures during job interviews.

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