Red Flag Resumes You Want to Avoid

You’re applying for a job and you’ve researched, reworked and rewritten your resume several times.

Great! You’ve done the hard part and now you are preparing to send it out to prospective employers.

But before you do, look at your resume one more time with a different mindset. This time look at it for some possible red flag resumes you want to avoid…


1) Bad grammar or punctuation

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. Carelessness in your grammar and punctuation on a resume can eliminate you as a candidate before your resume is even read in its entirety. Really. Sometimes something as small as a misused comma or a misspelled word can put your resume in the “not interested” pile of applicants. Why? Because the hiring manager is hoping to hire someone who will use the same care with his job as he did with his resume. Someone who will get it as close to perfect as possible. So check your resume word by word and when you are one hundred percent sure it’s perfect, give it to someone who will check it out again.


2) A personal, yet silly email address

It may seem trivial, but make sure your email address is not cutesy or adolescent sounding. You don’t want to come off as immature; you want to appear credible. A big red flag is when a hiring manager sees your email address (bestbodyever1234@yahoo or batman2001@ gmail) and has to ask himself, how juvenile is this guy anyway? Notice he doesn’t wonder how old the candidate is, because even people who have been in the work force for decades still sometimes retain their goofy monikers. Instead he wonders how old you are inside your head! Get a new email address just for the job hunt, if need be, and make it plain and simple. Preferably with your name in it (johnsmith@ or smithjohn@). If your name is already taken, add a number to it.


3) An artistically pleasing resume

Get rid of the creative fonts and/or colorful graphics. And no pictures either! It’s a resume, not an art project. Trying to make yourself stand out of the crowd in this manner will only get your resume thrown in the trash can.


4) The lackluster, nondescript resume

Beware of submitting a mediocre, cookie cutter resume. If your resume is so bland that it looks as if you might send it to 20 different companies without changing anything, fix it first. You only need to reference the specifics of the job description and how you are a potentially good fit for it to make a difference.


5) The enhanced, aggrandized resume

You’ve gone to the opposite extreme and you’ve used words which exaggerate your special qualities or abilities. You’ve used words like visionary, or creative thinker, or respected leader. Those judgments are for someone else to make, not you!

6) Remember that the word discrepancy is a fancy word for lie

You think you can sneak one over on the hiring manager. So you give the impression that you graduated from a certain school by saying you attended UMass, when in actuality that’s all you did. You attended, but did not graduate for one reason or another. Remember, these little discrepancies can be easily verified.


7)  Explain any short tenures in your work history

A huge red flag for a hiring manager is if you’ve had several full time positions, but none which lasted more than a few months or so. It could be that you just fell onto hard times with the companies you worked for. But it is a potential red flag to a hiring manager in that it could also mean that you are less committed or dedicated than they would like you to be. Several short tenures could also indicate that you are a job hopper or you are difficult to work with. In their eyes, maybe you get bored easily. Only you know if the reason you change jobs so much is because, for example, you have a spouse in the military. The hiring manager won’t know that if you don’t tell him.


8) Get rid of fuzzy or imprecise words that belie the truth

While your resume may seem complete to you, look it over for these red flag warnings: resume padding or vague words that don’t say much of anything at all. For example, if you say you associated with, participated in, or are familiar with, you are not really saying anything substantive at all. Does that mean you actually worked on a project or just assisted in it? For all the hiring manager knows, assisted with could mean you got the group coffee while they did the work. So instead, list accomplishments, not a list of job duties.

Don’t disregard these tips as trivial. Sometimes the smallest things can become red flag warnings that can keep you in the unemployment line and out of a job for a long time to come.