Top 5 Resume Red Flags

Updated on December 2, 2017

By Kim Bassett

As a hospital CEO, I’ve seen many resumes come across my desk — from physicians to clerical staff – and the red flags remain the same regardless of the position. Don’t give your prospective employer any excuse to eliminate your resume before you get the interview!  Here are my top 5 red flags: 

Top red flags:

1. Frequent relocation without explanation. This often signifies something is amiss. Employers look at each employee as an investment of time and resources. Constantly changing jobs tells them that you may be a short-timer or unreliable.  Maybe you have communication problems or just can’t get along with co-workers. This also brings up the “why” question. Why did you leave all those positions? Perhaps work performance is poor or the individual simply cannot seem to stay in one place for very long.

2. Career gaps.  If you have a career gap three to six months or longer, it is vital that you provide an explanation or note it in your resume or cover letter to avoid early round elimination.  Gaps will result in questions during the interview (if you are lucky enough to get one) especially if it is not explained in your cover letter.  Be prepared to discuss them.   

3. No clear career progression or lack of qualifications. You can’t fudge this one. Take the time to evaluate your resume side-by-side with the job description. Make a special effort to wordsmith your resume and cover letter to contain keywords used within the job description.   Back this up with examples of things you have done to meet those qualifications. Quantify your results to show your success clearly.  Again, if you have drifted from one career path to another, you need to explain this in a cover letter and let the prospective employer know that your path has lead you to this position and why they should take a chance on you. 

4. Poor grammar/spelling. With technology today, it is very easy to run your resume and cover letter through spell-check. When glaring spelling and grammar errors appear, it could indicate carelessness and your prospective employer may construe this to mean you don’t care about the job opportunity all that much. After all, if you couldn’t be bothered to use spell-check, why should they bother to interview you?

5. Too long and incoherent. I like to read a resume from start to finish. It doesn’t matter to me what order in which you place your experience or education as long as it flows and makes sense. Be sure your work experience is chronological and easy to follow. Prospective employers shouldn’t have to hunt around your resume to figure out where you were and what you did next.  Take care that you don’t run on too long. There’s no need to list every little accomplishment. Give only those highlights that show your career path and that support your ability to perform in this new position.  Accomplishments that you can substantiate with facts, figures or details are more important than the awards you received in high school.   

Take the time necessary to put your best foot forward with a well thought out cover letter and updated resume.  Be sure to do your research and customize both accordingly. Think of your resume as the first-impression because you may not get another chance. A little forethought and attention to detail on your resume is your first step to finding that next position!

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