Hiring managers see a ton of resumes in the course of doing their job. After a while, they can spot a bad applicant in seconds.
In fact, research has shown the average length of time a hiring manager looks at a resume is less than 30 seconds. Experienced hiring personnel are adept at spotting ‘red flags’ on resumes that may indicate an applicant does sloppy work, is fluffing up their credentials or has difficultly staying in a job.
As a job seeker, it’s important for you to know these red flags, how to avoid them or how to overcome them if they cannot be avoided.
A history of job hopping
Switching jobs too often can appear as a sign of instability, but from the job-seeker’s point of view, how often is too often? Research has indicated the typical professional will switch jobs between 11 and 15 times in a lifetime. Also, the recent uptick of temporary employees has risen from 1.47 percent to 1.88 percent in the past year.
These statistics point to rising volatility in the labor market, with the average worker shifting jobs every two to four years or so.
Put simply, red flagging shouldn’t happen unless an applicant starts shows an average job tenure of two years or less.
A lot of general claims
It’s a common tendency for job seekers to try and fluff up their credentials by being very vague about their skills and experience. For instance, someone might claim they handled “multiple large projects involving thousands of dollars” at their last job. This lack of specifics will raise the eyebrows of hiring managers, who will want to know just how “large” were these projects were, and how many “thousands of dollars” were involved.
A good resume contains specific numbers and concise bullet points. Instead of saying “large projects,” you should say, “projects involving 30 people from multiple departments.” And, instead of saying “thousands of dollars,” you should say these projects “generated between $20,000 and $150,000 for the company.”
Odd employment dates
Job seekers with one or more large gaps in their work history will often get creative when it comes to listing their employment dates. For instance, some job seekers will only list the starting and ending years for their employment dates. However, when employment dates are jiggered to the point they start to look weird, it will raise a red flag in the mind of a hiring manager.
If you have one or more employment gaps, leaving off the month from the dates isn’t a big deal if, and only if, the tenures at your jobs were so long, you can’t remember the starting and ending months. For instance, if you worked at one job for 11 years and another job for eight years, leaving off the months isn’t a big deal.
Make sure your employment history is easy to understand and address any employment gaps in your cover letter.