5 Resume Red Flags Hiring Managers Look for (and How to Avoid Them!)

As of this spring, the unemployment rate in the United States was still over seven percent. In Mississippi, that number was even higher, past eight percent. Simply put, people are looking for jobs. And when every opening has far more applicants than a company even wants, they’re quick to look for any reason to reject a résumé.

Don’t make an easy mistake that lets a company toss your name in the trash. Here are some common red flags and how to avoid them:

  1. Spelling or grammar issues – Sure, you may have years of experience and one of the sharpest minds at your current job, but if you list your job title as “directer of human resources” or “head of acconting,” nobody will hire you. Typos, simple grammar mistakes, and other careless errors, however minor, make it look like your attention to detail is lacking. So proofread, and proofread again. Have a friend proofread it as they may catch something you missed.
  2.  Erratic job history – Periodically changing employers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the right circumstances, it can show you have ambition, and that other companies value you. But leaving too many jobs in a short period of time, moving around a lot, or long employment gaps can scare off employers looking for stability. To alleviate their concern, you just need to explain yourself. Sometimes all it takes is a quick sentence to tell an employer there’s a valid reason why those gaps exist. Personal or family illnesses, a military spouse, or continuing education are all common and acceptable reasons for some employment history gaps.
  3. Subjective claims – Are you the best? Great! But who says? If you were the top salesperson at your company three quarters straight, or if you were employee of the month so many times in a row the CEO named his dog after you, feel free to put those on your résumé. Calling yourself “influential,” “respected,” or “successful” without evidence seems like misleading self-aggrandizement. List relevant achievements you can back up with proof.
  4. Superfluous information – A little personality in the form of an “interests” line is fine, it helps humanize you beyond a list of positions and dates. But telling too much about yourself can go over the line into being too personal. Keep in mind that sharing too much information (such as religious affiliations, age, or race) may open the door to discrimination concerns, so share information sparingly.
  5. You try to do too much – Sometimes, less is more. Your résumé tells employers where you’ve worked and what you did.  You don’t need long, florid descriptions of your time there, or how a job helped you grow as a person and a professional – that’s what your cover letter is for. You don’t need a headshot unless you’re an actor or model. And don’t try outside the box résumé gimmicks like colored paper or whimsical fonts. Keep it simple, classy, and to the point.

We can help you optimize your résumé to eliminate red flags and make employers want you. Get in touch to find out all the ways we can help you in your job search.