Resumé Items that Raise Red Flags

By Jenny Byrd

Your resumé just hit the hiring manager’s desk. The seconds are counting down as your credentials are skimmed and evaluated. A quick decision will be made about whether to reject you or consider you further, so making an initial positive impression is critical. Here are several red flags that employers agree will send your résumé into the “no” pile instantly.

  • Job Hopping. If you have a history of not staying in one position for any length of time, employers may wonder whether you get bored easily or can’t keep a job. If there is a good reason that your employment stints have been short-term such as a spouse in the military, tell employers upfront so they don’t draw their own conclusions.
  • Glaring Grammar Goofs. Spelling and improper grammar mistakes can get your résumé immediately tossed, because employers will assume that you are a person who does not pay attention to detail. Résumé are supposed to be very polished, so having mistakes could be seen as a reflection of your working style.
  • Writing Wreckage. Even for jobs that don’t require perfectly written text, employers still want to see written evidence that you can communicate well. Writing unclearly on your resume sends the message that you can’t communicate once on the job.
  • Under Achiever. If you list nothing but your job duties at each job, rather than what you achieved in each position, you will signal that you only met the basic requirements. Hiring managers are looking for employees who have a proven track record of achievement and accomplishments above and beyond that of an average candidate.
  • Look How Great I Am. Putting statements in your resume like “respected leader,” “creative innovator” or “visionary thinker” are the kinds of things former employers or co-workers can say about you, but you should not say about yourself. Stick to objective experience and accomplishments only.
  • Moving Target. Most employers want to scan your resume and get a quick understanding of how you have progressed within one or two fields, rather than trying to piece together why you have experience as a salesperson, a medical assistant, and then possibly a musician. Unrelated job pursuits will cause employers to be skeptical about your commitment to the role you are applying for.

To make those valued seconds count, spruce up your résumé and scrutinize it carefully, because you can be sure that your prospective employer will.

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