When a recruiter opens your resume, they aren’t looking for why they SHOULD interview you.
Instead they are looking for reasons why they SHOULDN’T.
Which means that any glaring red flags are sure to put you in the NO pile and ruin any hopes you have for that job.
There will always be those jobs that we won’t get an interview for, maybe we are missing a key piece of experience or education or maybe there is a gap the hiring manager is trying to fill. We don’t want to stress too much about that because it is completely out of our control.
But there are many red flags that are entirely within our control, ones that we need to address in order to increase the odds of ending up in the YES pile and keeping our dreams alive for landing that job.
1. Resume is Messy
By messy I mean that there are mistakes present that shouldn’t be present. Typos, spelling mistakes and grammar issues are problems that could instantly destroy your chances of moving forward.
There are times when those errors are forgiven but for many roles that require writing skills or attention to detail then chances are this easily avoided mistake could be the end of the road for you.
Beyond the written aspect of your resume, pay attention to your formatting. Make sure it is consistent throughout and that there aren’t any glaring formatting errors. That way you can get that call inviting you in for an interview.
2. Resume is Confusing
As soon as the recruiter has to think about what you are trying to tell them you are in the NO pile.
If your resume is a Functional resume that is skills focused then chances are it is never even read by the recruiter. Why? It’s just too confusing and the recruiter has to figure out where you worked and where you used those skills. Too much work for a 6 second read.
Employment Gaps fall in this area too. I don’t stress too much about gaps that were more than 10 years ago, but if they fall in the last decade include them in your resume. Call it an Employment Sabbatical and describe quickly why you had the gap (in a way you are comfortable with and that is short and sweet).
This also goes for any interesting career journeys, maybe there was overlap in roles or you were working two jobs at once. If that is the case, edit yourself first. Keep only what matters to THIS job in the resume. If those extras don’t matter then keep them out. If they do, then using 2-3 words include a brief note in your content about the overlap.
If don’t want to raise a red flag, address these issues ASAP!
3. Resume isn’t the Right Length
If you have more than 5 years of experience then a 1 page resume might not be for you. If you have less than 5 years of experience, then don’t have a 3 page resume.
Create a resume that tells your career story, don’t skimp on it or pad it.
If you have 2 or 3 pages in your resume, make sure those extra pages are at least half full. A 1 ¼ page resume is annoying and not aesthetically pleasing!
Any of these mishaps can land you in that pile you dread.
4. Resume Doesn’t Sell You
There is a lot of push on accomplishment based bullets points and, honestly, rightly so. But what can get lost there are key tasks that are a part of your job and the job you are applying for. Your content for each position should demonstrate what you do, how you make a difference and your accomplishments.
To determine how much focus you need to have on the tasks, take a look at your career and the role you are applying for. Is it task based or results based? If it is task based and you haven’t focused on that, then the NO pile is where you’ll end up.
5. Resume has a Bad Case of TMI
Is your resume full of information? A Skills Highlight section which is like an essay? Or a block of bullet points that looks like a copy and paste of the job description.
A recruiter is skimming resumes and when they skim, any big block of text will overwhelm them and raise a red flag. Which means you end up in the NO pile.
6. Resume Doesn’t Tell Your Story
Your resume is a marketing document, like an advertisement. It needs to tell the story of your career and how you are the ONE for the job. We tend to jump straight into our tasks or accomplishments instead of giving the recruiter a sense of what you’ve done. A simple sentence outlining the overall purpose of each role allows them to finish the skim satisfied. But if a recruiter skims your resume and doesn’t know exactly who you are and what you do then they won’t bring you in for an interview.
If you have one (or more) of these red flags, it is time to focus on a new resume. Take the time yourself or hire a professional to ensure you resume is red flag free and all set to nab those interviews!
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
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