Common Resume Red Flags


Lets face it: job hunting is difficult. Nowadays, people are competing with many other applicants, regardless of the position, rank or field. Job seekers have few opportunities to impress employers, one being with their resume. With more and more people applying (with up to 50 percent of applicants not being qualified) for each job posted by an employer, hiring managers and recruiters cannot read every resume received word for word. To speed up the process, resumes are skimmed and scanned for key words, phrases, dates, etc. Often times when scanning, recruiters and hiring managers come across a resume red flag – and that’s where the scanning ends. As a result, the candidate is taken out of the running.

Learn what our staffing and recruiting professionals had to say about resume red flags so you don’t let a resume faux pas affect your job search:

Aron GilbodyAron Gilbody

Obviously resumes with spelling and grammatical errors are the biggest culprit, but also providing too much information can be a detriment.  Having a resume that is 20+ pages in length that includes old and non-relevant positions in your employment history is something hiring managers complain about often.  Leave your stint as a bagger at the supermarket off your resume so the prospective employer can focus on your more recent and specific skills relating to the job.

Adam Barron

Adam BarronFor me, one of the biggest resume red flags is actually what I don’t see. If a candidate claims to have a specific skill set but only has it mentioned very briefly (or not at all) on his or her resume, questions will be raised not only by me but most certainly by any company looking to potentially hire the candidate in question. What was the extent of that experience? Why is it not detailed further? Before applying to any job, make sure to thoroughly read the job description/requirements and tailor your resume accordingly. Take the time to provide some additional detail to any bullets in your resume describing skills required by the job. Details should include measurable results if at all possible.

Another red flag that has been popping up more and more lately is when I find information on a resume that is word-for-word identical to another resume. I have seen a verbatim line here and there across multiple resumes, as well as entire sections/bullets blatantly copied with only the employer/dates changed. Write your own resume. I cannot say this loud enough: WRITE YOUR OWN RESUME. It is fine to use a professional service to tweak and review, but always be sure that your resume is entirely written in your own words, not someone else’s. We compare documents thoroughly to prevent these resumes from getting in front of our clients, and you can bet that we aren’t the only ones. Our clients will often perform this check on their end as well.

Gretchen Ponte

Gretchen Ponte

Putting together a resume should not be a rushed process. The most alarming red flags I see on a resume are spelling and grammar mistakes. It amazes me that consultants who are being paid high hourly rates have resumes that are full of simple spelling mistakes that can be caught using Spellcheck or by reading the resume over. It is also helpful to have another person read over for grammar mistakes. It’s easy to overlook content when you are writing and rewriting a resume multiple times. Or, put it aside for a few hours and go back and read it over again. Sometimes reading out loud helps to catch phrases that don’t make sense. But please, before you post a resume or submit it, check for spelling and grammar!

Craig Farley

Craig Farley

Let’s face it…employers don’t have all day to analyze resumes. Any red flags on a resume could be your quickest nail in the coffin when it comes to trying to land a position. Here are the top three resume red flags I see most often and some suggestions that are helpful to avoid them.

Job hopping/gaps on a resume: Your resume is a chronological list of jobs that you worked at and the first thing that jumps off the page when reviewing a resume. Make sure to be accurate and honest on all your employment dates. If you have job hopped a lot or have some gaps in your resume, be sure to explain why under the date in the resume, but be brief. It’s better to explain why you might have been laid off for budgetary reasons rather than have a manager just assume you were lazy and weren’t working. This can be further explained during the interview process.

Using bland job descriptions in your resume: I see this happening a lot on resumes. Candidates will just list job responsibilities under their jobs rather than explaining their accomplishments and how their work made the company better.   Some candidates will even just copy and paste job descriptions from websites. It’s in your best interest to elaborate in detail what made you a valuable member of a company, rather than just list things we all know you already did. In a sea of resumes, you need to stand out.

Spelling and grammar mistakes: Your resume is a reflection of your communication skills. Make sure to spell check and read your resume over; it even helps to read it out loud. Employers understand you aren’t an English scholar, but it’s important to show you can communicate effectively especially if you will be conducting documentation and/or are customer facing. Also, make sure to have someone else proofread it for good measure.

What other red flags can you think of? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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