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5 Red Flags to Look for on an Applicant’s Resume

By: Dan Scalco


Red Flags for an Applicants Resume

If you are faced with a large pile of resumes for just a few open positions, it can be overwhelming. In such situations, it always helps to have some simple hints and tools that can lead you to quickly choose to keep or discard a candidate. In particular, a few red flags can prevent you from wasting your time or making a bad decision in the near future. Hiring managers often have to make a wealth of snap decisions in order for the process to keep moving forward, eventually leading to a successful hire.

The next time that you are scanning resumes for a position at your company, keep an eye out for the following 5 red flags of resume writing:

1. An embarrassing email address.

When you review the candidates’ contact information, take quick note of the email address. If the individual can’t be bothered to change their email from something they thought was funny in college – heavydrinker@xyz.com, for instance – they probably don’t have the professionalism to work for your business. Making mistakes while you are young is one thing, but not bothering to correct them when applying for a professional position is another.

2. Gaps or missing information that is not explained.

Many parents have gaps in their professional experience timeline based on time they spent with their young children. Likewise, some high school graduates choose to take a gap year prior to college to explore the world and some college graduates do the same. However, if the resume is missing dates or other key information, and there is no follow-up via cover letter or email, then this can be a big red flag. Failure to include dates in a resume is often an attempt to hide or cover up something.

3. A reverse career trajectory.

If someone goes from vice president to operations lead or from senior manager to customer service representative, you may be seeing evidence of a career path going backwards. There is often a reason for this backtracking. However, don’t immediately reject a candidate because of this. It is important to note that different companies have different uses when it comes to titles, so it is also vital to review overall responsibilities to determine if the career has, in fact, plateaued. Or, just be forthright and ask the candidate.

4. Failure to follow directions.

If your company has requested candidates with an MBA and you receive applicants who have not earned a bachelor’s degree, that is a clear case of failure to follow directions. If you request references with the resume and they are not submitted, that is another example. Whatever you are asking for when it comes to resume submission, ensure that your candidates are able to follow basic rules before you give a resume the green light. Failure to follow established rules can be evidence of laziness, arrogance or lack of attention to detail.

5. Spelling and grammar errors.

In the era of simple spellcheck, there is absolutely no excuse for misspelled words. Likewise, savvy candidates need to use correct grammar and punctuation if they want to be taken seriously. Even if you are hiring for a tech position that involves little to no writing, you want employees who pay attention to detail and show professionalism in their resume, as well as take themselves and their work seriously.

In addition to the above, hiring managers should also look for evidence of cutting and pasting, plagiarism, resumes that are overly loud or wordy, and lack of keywords, which applicants should know are critical to getting past the first stage.

When you look for red flags in resumes, you will be able to easily separate the serious candidates from the rest and move on with your next stage in the hiring process.

Published: November 7, 2017

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Dan Scalco

Dan Scalco is the founder and marketing director at Digitalux, a digital-marketing agency located in Hoboken, N.J. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of businesses save time, increase leads and maximize sales. You can connect with him on Twitter @DanScalco.

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