Creating and formatting a professional resume can be quite tricky at times. But you aren’t alone. Many candidates with enough qualifications fail to bag the job due to unimpressive resumes. Here are six red flags you need to avoid to build an outstanding and professional resume.
Masking yourself into a whole different persona is not a healthy way to pass the seven-second resume glance rule and crack a personal interview. Don’t already assume that people sitting on the other side of the table are not smart enough to spot any gimmick. The more realistic you are with your approach, the more appealing your resume would be.
A resume is your first chance to win the trust and confidence of an employer. It’s better not to give them any loophole to mark the red flags on your resume. Concentrate on the aspects that will increase your viability as a candidate.
I have heard many people say that their qualifications exceeded the requirements for the applied job, but they have no idea why they didn’t receive a return call from the company. Well, believe it or not, your near-to-perfect resume can have ample mistakes which, if not corrected, can result in slipping of your ideal job opportunity.
You don’t want that. Ask yourself – is your resume tailored to the job you’re applying to? Are you giving enough evidence that you’re well equipped to handle the role? Are you able to convince the employer that you have the required skill set?
Let’s discuss six crucial resume red flags that you should most certainly review before sending out your resume to the next recruiter.
You are the best person to craft your resume and bring out all the aspects that will help you stand out. Your past experiences and performances could be described efficiently by none other than yourself. And most importantly, you would be able to dodge the unnecessary details and be more specific about your skills and knowledge.
However, to bring an edge to your resume, you can hire expert resume writing services and cheap paper writing at affordable pricing. These services will enhance your resume to a limited extent only.
Here’s a list of six major red flags you need to tick off for the most professional resume. Let’s begin!
Unexplained career gaps
A gap of, say, ten months or a couple of years between two of your work profiles is considered a highly suspected red flag background. It won’t be a wise decision to hide this span in your resume by not listing the exact months and years of your work history.
Recruiters and headhunters always pay heed to such tricks. Consequently, your resume will pose a negative impact nullifying your shot for that job.
So how do you avoid this red flag? Prove yourself as an honest candidate and come clean. Mention the reason for your career sabbatical in italics so that it stands out, such as: Took a paternity leave or Travelled abroad.
A reasonable explanation will help the recruiter understand your previous situation, and you will come out as a trustworthy candidate.
Keep in mind, an employer always pays attention to your last work profiles and the years of inactivity, if any. The best way to clear out any suspicions sprouting in his mind would be by providing facts.
Typos and grammatical errors
I am sure you don’t want to be another sloppy, inconsiderate applicant in the crowd, too lazy to proofread the spellings, tense, and punctuations twice. A thorough HR will run a spell-check. And let’s face it, grammatical error or clumsy formatting is a significant resume red flag issue.
Try not to make it difficult for the employer to go through the highlight aspects of your resume.
- Bullet points are the key to a clean and crisp resume
- Be meticulous with your spellings and verb tenses
- Avoid the pronoun ‘I’ yet keep the tone from the first-person point of view
- Nothing beats attention to detail – don’t miss out on a word or a comma in a sentence
- Stay away from writing cryptic titles. They can be confusing and in a strict professional scenario, inappropriate.
The messy format is another snag in your resume. Many people don’t pay much attention to their resume format, which in turn, reflects them as unprofessional candidates. Sloppy formatting adds to the work of HR in deciphering your CV, and they generally don’t have time for that.
Be as accurate as you can. Don’t write vague words or phrases in your resume. Did you “strategise” or “develop”? Did you “manage” the team or just “worked in a team”? Be specific about your past job and do not skip on the results obtained from such projects.
The former milestones will help the recruiter understand your capabilities and give an idea about the responsibilities you are eligible to uptake.
Frequent job switching
Employers might take a pass instead of a candidate’s stellar background if they have a record of constant job-hopping. This suggests a sign of a red flag career. Several questions may arise on the employee’s reliability, mediocre performance, the capability to cope with office environments, or communication skills.
Legitimate explanations won’t be enough as very few recruiters would like to invest in you without any hope of substantial contribution in return. So what to do?
State the experiences you have acquired in the gaps, and who knows; these gaps might land you the job owing to the skills you have developed during the period.
Failure to show steady progress and upskilling
A regressive or backward career track or lack of skill and qualification are potential employer red flags. An impressive resume should reflect steady growth in responsibility. It’s not merely a list of job titles and descriptions. A smart applicant will record the accomplishments they have brought to each role.
In case you have deliberately taken a step back to maintain work-life balance or some other personal reason, be open about it in your cover letter. Just as well, provide ample justification to clarify a giant leap in career path. Also, highlight the skills you acquired during the gap period, you approach while describing the “break” should be positive.
A curious hiring manager would ask you questions about the leap in the interview round. You will need to be prepared.
Overemphasis on unimpressive skills is unnecessary. Don’t use words like “proficient in typing” unless you are an expert. Don’t exaggerate your basic or intermediate skills, it’s as good as lying, and will put you into trouble when you have to prove your worth sooner or later.
Lack of customisation
Every job description has its unique keywords and criteria. And if it’s not a tailor-made resume or cover letter for each different job application, it’s a red flag.
The main objective here is to draw the employer’s attention by explaining how your expertise will fulfil the required skill set of that particular position.
An aptly customised resume and cover letter will allow the recruiter to correlate your past experiences with the present job. It would be best if you don’t over-inflate the job titles in your resume. It only confuses the software or a hiring manager.
Refrain from adding information about your high school performance or your job as a home-based baker; such irrelevant input will only increase your resume length. Stick to the skills that make you the most competent candidate for the open position.
The only way to get an idea about this is by going through the position description thoroughly; understanding what the recruiting manager is looking for and what is expected out of you if hired.
Unusual resume length and incoherence
An in comprehensive and long resume is a red flag that you want to avoid. You can never expect to pass the seven-second rule if you go on for pages adding every minor job description you have ever had. Try to maintain a chronology of your education and experience relevant to the current position.
Mention the jobs in which you had the most responsibility. A recruiter doesn’t want to know about all the employment you had, but just the major ones to track your growth.
Additionally, if you give out too much information about previous internships and odd jobs, the manager might take you as one of the job hoppers, who are still experimenting with their careers and not yet fixated on anything. Such an impression would deter an HR from investing in you.
Always remember a customised resume and well-researched cover letter is your first and possibly the only shot to leave an impression on the recruiter. There is absolutely no place for these red flags. Putting the extra effort and thought while building your resume will go a long way!
About the Author
Soubhik has a majors in Economics, combined with a legal and journalism degree, and lives in the beautiful British Columbia. He has been writing for over 10 years, bringing his insights to the audience.