So your resume made it through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) round, or maybe you were lucky enough to have a referral help get your resume to the top of the stack. Now comes the real moment of truth - is the employer going to be impressed or think twice about whether you suit the job and its company?
Related:4 Ways To Pass The 8-Second Resume Glance
Find out the top red flags employers watch for on resumes and how to address them:
1. Gaps in employment.
Whether you took time off from work to care for a new baby or a sick family member, or simply have had a difficult time finding a new job after being laid-off or fired, a significant gap in employment is a red flag for most employers.
You can try to mask it by only indicating the year for your dates of employment, but the concern will still be there as the employer looks deeper. Gaps in employment need to be addressed not just in the cover letter, but also in the resume so that it can stand alone.
2. Spelling, grammar, and consistencies.
Sloppiness can kill your resume. You want to come off as professional and polished, and that means a resume free of spelling and grammar errors, and inconsistencies in information formatting. Always have your resume reviewed with an additional pair of eyes.
Watch out for common spelling errors like “its" versus “it's," and “their" versus “there" versus "they're." Also stick with a format on how to lay out your information. For example, under Experience, lead with Company Name, Job Title, Date of Employment, and then bullet point the highlights.
3. Stagnant career growth.
The general expectation is there will be advancement to one's career. When a resume shows a candidate has held the same job title many years with unchanged responsibilities, it informs the employer that progression has come to a halt. Understandably, employers may define job titles differently, but the work experience must show increasingly higher level involvement, responsibilities, and advancements to skills. So keep in mind that even if your job title hasn't changed, you show progress to your experience and knowledge.
4. Failure to customize and follow instructions.
A resume is a winner when it is customized with information to address the employer's specific needs. So if the employer is posting a job description indicating the company wants someone with investor relations experience dealing with micro-cap investors, it's not enough to relay experience dealing with large-cap investors – it's missing the boat.
Employers may also have specific instructions in the job posting like indicating a specific subject line in the email at the time of application. Failure to follow instructions can hurt your chances, so read things carefully.
There are many hurdles to go over when you're job searching, but eliminating red flags on your resume is one of the easier tasks you can take on to improve results.
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About the author
Don Goodman's firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109 for more information.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert.