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Three Resume Red Flags You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Three Resume Red Flags You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Laura Hatch

The hiring process seems to be moving along well, and you’ve got a promising pile of applications that you may want to consider. Now that you’ve narrowed down the initial influx of candidates, weeding out the ones that are obviously not a good fit, it’s time to take a fine-toothed comb to the remaining resumes.


There are three red flags I always look for when I’m selecting great candidates. And for me, these are non-negotiable. Unless a job applicant seems perfect in every other way, I use these three factors to send more resumes to the recycle bin.


Keep in mind that by this point in the process, there shouldn’t be any “maybes” in the pile—only excellent candidates. Definitely plan to employ a “two flags and you’re out” policy, at the very least. Remember, you may not be able to spot all of the red flags until the interview. Someone with two red flags on paper is sure to demonstrate more in person!


Here are the red flags that help me further narrow the candidate pool:

1. Major Gaps in Work History

Look for any obvious holes in the candidate’s work history that haven’t been adequately explained in the cover letter. Although this may not be an automatic reason to trash the resume, it’s a factor that will count against a candidate if there are any other reasons to hesitate on interviewing that person.


2. No Dates on the Resume 

Does the job candidate avoid listing dates of employment altogether? MAJOR red flag. Either this person hasn’t worked anywhere for very long, or there’s something that she or he is trying to hide. Any stellar candidate is going to want you to see the employment dates as proof of loyalty to former employers.


3. Multiple Short-Stay Jobs 

Along the same lines, pay attention to how long candidates stayed at previous jobs. If there is an incident of leaving a job before a year has passed, it was probably a case of a bad personality fit. (Jot down a note, in the interview, watch this candidate closely for any indications of ill will toward that employer.) On the other hand, more than one incident is a pattern. Once a job-hopper, always a job-hopper! A candidate who has a history of leaving jobs within a year isn’t going to treat your office any differently.


In the next installment of this series, we’ll discuss the key thing that will make or break a phone interview.

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