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July 1 Blog

Top 6 Resume Red Flags and How to Avoid Them July 1, 2020

At TYGES we know a thing or two about resumes because we read them all day. In fact, that’s one of the things that puts us ahead of other firms – our attention to detail and commitment to getting to know candidates beyond the resume.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 6 Resume Red Flags and ways to fix them – see the list below.

1. You didn’t proofread.

Why it’s a red flag: Hiring authorities and recruiters presume you are interested in the job you’ve applied for until you prove them wrong. When you don’t take the time to proofread your resume it gives the impression that you are not interested in details or getting things right and that you’ll have a similar sloppy attitude in your next job.

The Fix: You do not need to be (or hire) a professional writer to compose a resume. You do need to proofread your resume. If grammar and spelling are not your jam, ask a friend or family member to read through your resume to find any errors and then make the changes recommended. (Tip: read your resume backward, out loud. You tend to miss things when reading forward that will jump out at you when you read from the last word to the first.)

2. Job Hops.

Why it’s a red flag: If you’ve had 5 jobs in the last four years all hiring authorities are going to take notice. There may be a fear that you’re inconsistent or disloyal or difficult to work with. If you tell the hiring authority that each time you left because you were let go, there begins to be a theme that you’re the common denominator to why you were let go so frequently in such a short period of time.

The Fix: If those roles were all contract roles, be sure to note that on the resume. Be clear about your reasons for leaving each of those roles and own any lessons that you may have learned about yourself in the process. For instance, “Over the past four years, you’ll see I’ve held five different roles and now I’m looking for another. When I left the first job it was because a recruiter called me and the role sounded very exciting, however when I arrived, I learned that it wasn’t a fit because….” “In each of these situations I have learned X and if I had to do it all again I would Y.”  (Tip: Own your story and be prepared to speak about how you have grown as a result.)

3.) Gaps.

Why it’s a red flag: Similar to job hops, gaps raise questions in the mind of the hiring authority. One gap isn’t necessarily a challenge – often explained during a life change, however, several gaps across your career may not immediately make sense.

The Fix: Be prepared to pre-empt questions about any large gaps on your resume. You have no responsibility to share all your personal details however speak clearly and confidently to the gap by saying something like, “You’ll notice that there is a gap between Company A and Company B. I took time off after leaving Company A to travel/get married/take care of personal responsibilities/care for a family member.” (Tip: The value of speaking with a recruiter is your opportunity to literally fill in the gap which the recruiter will translate to the hiring authority on your behalf. Most Applicant Tracking Software/ATS will simply discard the resume.)

4. Bold exaggerations that don’t align with reality.

Why it’s a red flag: Your ability to speak the truth to your numbers and results is one of the core ways you set yourself apart from the competition for a job. You may initially think that exaggerating your results is an even way to stand out, but of course, when pushed on how you achieved the results you’ll be stumped. For example, we once had a candidate who indicated that he’d reduced waste in the plant by 109%!

The Fix: If you’re going to use numbers on your resume, ensure their accuracy. Go through your files, look at any reviews or comments you have from your previous employers, and use the numbers you have noted. If you’re not certain about a particular result don’t lie. (Tip: It’s okay to include estimates as long as they’re realistic and you note that it’s an estimate.)

5. Acronyms that do not match your role/industry.

Why it’s a red flag: Using acronyms can make you look like an insider, however using acronyms that you don’t understand or can’t speak to may indicate you’re not qualified for the role. Also using acronyms that may not be part of the job you had will not make you look more professional and may detract from your candidacy as well.

The Fix: Leave off any acronyms that you cannot speak to directly.

6. No Results.

Why it’s a red flag: When you fill your resume with a list of tasks that you did you’re missing the ability to focus on the results you got for your employer. Companies hire people who can help them make money or save money or find ways to do either or both.

The Fix: In a previous post, Steve Sanders spoke about behavioral interview questions. Make sure your resume highlights the value you added in each of your roles. A good way to think about this is by answering the question of Why you did each task on your resume. If you replaced an outdated inventory management system, resist the temptation to belabor each step in the process if you can’t point to the results. (Tip: Follow the STAR method.) – https://tyges.com/behavioral-interviewing/.

Written by: PEGGIE ARVIDSON, Executive Recruiter

Peggie Arvidson started recruiting in junior high school when she convinced her classmates to join her in creating a ski club. Since then, she’s held many positions from sales to recruiting to non-profit leadership and quality assurance.  Her focus in her life and career is helping people to find their right work for the right pay because she believes that when people are happy at work, they are secure in life, and happy people change the world for the better.

Peggie has moved more than 30 times across 5 states and three time zones, and is not a military brat. She can usually be found walking around Williamsburg, tasting new foods, and searching out hidden beauty whenever she’s not at work.


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