Resume and Cover Letter Red Flags
It makes sense to approach a stack of job applications with reasonable expectations. After all, the people represented by these resumes are not professional resume writers. Ideally, they’re so busy being professional legal assistants/machine operators/chefs/band managers, etc., that they haven’t had much time to hone their resume crafting skills. A single typo or clumsy phrase shouldn’t disqualify an applicant completely. But are there any seemingly innocent resume mistakes that really do warrant a raised eyebrow? If you see any of these red flags, feel free to move onto the next application in the pile.
1. Hidden or absent employment dates
If the rest of the resume looks glowing, investigate. But if the overall picture seems average at best and the employment dates are missing, move on. Job seekers, take note: Employment dates are an equalizer. Not everyone will understand what a “Business Solution Provider” does, or did, and that’s what interviews are for. But we all understand employment dates, and in this area, we all recognize an attempt to spin the truth when we see it.
2. Too many vague statements
A few empty clichés are forgivable, but you shouldn’t see them on every line. Don’t spend too much time studying a resume riddled with phrases like “excellent communication skills and strong task management ability with a highly motivated performance track record.” This person uses a lot of words to say nothing, and he’ll continue to do this after you bring him on board. Focus on the requirements of the position. Can he handle them or not?
Angry feelings should never surface in a resume. If you pick up a hostile vibe, for any reason whatsoever, move on.
4. She has everything…except what you need
This one is tricky. Some candidates have done everything, have seen the world, and have excelled in multiple fields. Often these candidates are brilliant, interesting people. This one may have a black belt in jujitsu and a degree in nuclear physics. But if she has no experience with the position at hand, think twice before you become drawn in. Yes, she’s a fast learner, and yes, she’ll be a pleasure to have in the workplace. But hiring her will entail a degree of risk, and bringing her up to speed may require more time and expense than you anticipate.