May 19, 2021
Your resume is your number one marketing tool for landing an interview. But red flags on your resume can cause you to be overlooked by a recruiter. So getting rid of them is crucial. We’ll walk you some of the most common red flags and we’ll each give our best advice for dealing with them.
Q: What do hiring managers see as red flags on resumes?
Spelling and grammatical errors! These really stand out as red flags on your resume. First, it distracts from the message when you’re trying to decipher what it says. And second, it’s tough to trust a person who hasn’t taken the time to read through and remove simple grammatical and spelling errors. It gives the impression of carelessness, so a hiring manager might also wonder how accurate the data on the resume really is, and whether they might also be careless with tasks they’re assigned on the job.
Your resume is a really important part of your job search, and it’s usually the first impression hiring managers will have of you. Again, you really want to take the time to get it right and make a great first impression. Ultimately these are pretty easy red flags to fix, so take the time to get rid of them, and don’t let them get in your way.
Number one is small stays! Or short stays at organizations. Hiring managers call it job hopping, and they’re big red flags on your resume. Of course, sometimes there are very viable reasons you’re job hopping. And the most important reason you should be job hopping is because you took a job at a lower level and you worked your way up to a higher position with the company. But they will ask about it in an interview if you have short term jobs on your resume.
Likewise, If you have a short stay because you started the role in a temporary job and then you were hired on as a full-time employee, you should merge those two for the purpose of your resume. Or a lot of people will accept several temporary positions while they are job searching. You should also merge those for the purpose of your resume to demonstrate that you have a long history of working with the staffing company. The other big red flag is typos. Grammatical errors and typos will jump out and be an immediate turn off for a lot of hiring managers.
Q: What if I haven’t updated my resume yet?
Our recruiters get a lot of resumes that haven’t been updated. Above all, you want to have a clean resume. Missing data can, for example, act like red flags on your resume because we just don’t know why that data is missing. It comes across looking unfinished. We realize some people might not have their resume ready to go when a recruiter asks for it, and recruiters can help with that. The best thing to do in that situation is type out basic bullet points listing what you’ve done along with basic details and timeframes. You’ll be surprised how fast your recruiter can update your resume! But be ready to discuss details for any gaps and take some time before the conversation with your recruiter to have that information handy. It’ll take your recruiter a lot longer put everything together if you don’t have that information ready to go.
I think a lot of people find themselves in this situation, where they’ve just started their job search, or maybe they’ve already got a job but they’re looking around to see if there’s a better opportunity out there. And then you find a job that really piques your interest, but you haven’t sat down and updated your resume since the last time you were job hunting. And for some people that could be years ago! Or maybe you’re just starting out and nobody has really shown you how to write a good resume yet, and you’re not sure what to put on it.
If you’re talking with a recruiter who wants your resume, be honest with them and let them know you haven’t updated your resume yet. Then set a deadline in the very near future to have it done, and stick to it. Ideally you should try to get it over to the recruiter by the next day. But the trick here is to make sure you meet your deadline. If you fail to follow through, then that becomes a red flag, and the recruiter is far less likely to pass your resume on to a hiring manager. In fact you should think of it as your first opportunity to demonstrate that you can meet a deadline.
Q: What kind of details should be on my resume?
One of the biggest problems we see is missing details for past jobs. And what I mean by that is they listed the job title and dates, but they didn’t describe the duties they performed. I know that can be tough to go back and fill that in for a job you left awhile ago, but take the time to do it to avoid these kind of red flags on your resume. With this in mind, I would suggest thinking through a typical day at each job. For example: what did you do when you first got to work? How did you spend your morning? What did you usually do after lunch? Did you use any special equipment or computer programs? Were there any special projects you did, or tasks you only did once a week or once a month? Then make sure you include those on your resume.
Another thing that can help is looking at job ads for jobs similar to the one you had. Look through the required skills on that ad, and if you did any of those at your job, make sure you put them on your resume. The employer clearly values it if they put it in the job ad, so make sure you show off that you have those skills!
I recommend that you list each job title and then list the duties you performed. Sometimes the job duties don’t correlate with the job title. Obviously that happens sometimes, and sometimes there are good reasons for that, which makes it even more important to list those duties on your resume. But be ready to talk about that with your recruiter and your interviewer.
Q: Any other resume tips?
We see people who can’t explain their gaps in employment. That goes back to our previous blog post about how to handle gaps in employment. Again, don’t advertise the gap, but do be ready to talk about what happened, and what has changed that makes you ready to commit to work now.
Keep in mind that your resume is your personal marketing piece. Of course you want to eliminate as many red flags on your resume as possible, and present yourself in the best light. In short, it’s a great tool for showing hiring managers that you’re the best person for the job. Your resume is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments. Instead it’s the time to show them off!