10 resume red flags to look out for when you’re hiring new employees

Have you ever tried to hire someone for your team, only to be flooded with irrelevant resumes? It can be frustrating and time-consuming to sort through them all, and even when you find a seemingly good candidate, there may be hidden issues you didn’t catch. 

These problems can cause serious headaches down the line, affecting your whole team or company. In this blog post, we offer tips on how to evaluate resumes quickly and effectively, so you can find the right person for the job. 

We’ll show you how to spot resume red flags and identify promising candidates, saving you time and reducing the risk of hiring the wrong person. So if you’re tired of sifting through piles of resumes, keep reading to learn how to spot red flags on a resume. 

1. Grammar mistakes and typos in resume 

One of the biggest red flags on a resume is bad spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Even though not everyone is great at these things, it’s important for job applicants to show that  they care enough to make sure their resume is well-written and polished.

If a candidate doesn’t take the time to make a good first impression, it might be a sign that they won’t be very dedicated to their work. After all, if they can’t get their resume right, how can you trust them to do a good job in the workplace? That’s why it’s important to pay attention to these details when evaluating job applications.

2. Failure to follow application directions 

As you review job applications, you might notice that some candidates don’t include all the requested items, such as a cover letter or a list of references. This can be a red flag, as it might show a lack of effort or care on the applicant’s part.

If someone can’t be bothered to provide what you’ve asked for, it’s possible they won’t be very dedicated or follow instructions well in the workplace.

That’s why it’s important to focus on candidates who take the time to provide all the requested items. These individuals show that they’re willing to put in the effort and are more likely to follow instructions and take their job seriously. 

Don’t waste your time on candidates who can’t be bothered to do what’s asked of them. Look for those who demonstrate dedication and attention to detail.

3. Lack of relevant job experience  

While it’s possible for someone to learn new skills on the job, having prior experience in a similar position can be a big advantage. If an applicant doesn’t have any experience in the field or in a similar job they’re applying for, it could be a sign that they haven’t thought carefully about their career goals or don’t have a clear understanding of the job requirements. 

Also, if an applicant has a lot of experience but none of it is relevant to the position being applied for, it could indicate that they aren’t fully committed to the job or might have difficulty adapting to the role. 

4. Bad resume formatting

When evaluating job applications, it’s important to pay attention not just to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but also to the overall formatting of resumes. Even if the job doesn’t require advanced office skills, a well-organized and properly formatted resume shows that the applicant cares about making a good impression.

A good resume format should have a clear and logical structure that includes personal details, education, work experience, and skills. Text should be easy to read and broken up into short paragraphs or bullet points.

If the resume looks messy or disorganized, it’s likely that the applicant didn’t spend much time on it. This could be a sign that they don’t take their own presentation seriously, which might be a red flag for their work ethic.

So, as you review job applications, be sure to consider the formatting of resumes in addition to their content. It could be a valuable clue to the applicant’s level of care and attention to detail.

5. Lack of resume customization 

Pay attention to whether the applicant has tailored their resume and cover letter to your specific business and the open position. If the applicant hasn’t made an effort to customize their application materials, it could be a sign that they’re not really serious about the job.

Some applicants who know they’re not qualified for the position may send out lots of applications without bothering to tailor their materials. They might think it’s a waste of time since they don’t expect to get the job.

However, reviewing applications like this is also a waste of your time. If someone isn’t willing to make an effort to show how their skills and experience align with the job, it’s not worth your time to consider them further. 

Look for applicants who take the time to tailor their materials and demonstrate a genuine interest in the position.

6. Job hopping on resume

If an applicant has listed several previous roles at other companies in just the last few months, it’s a red flag. This could indicate that the applicant is a job hopper and isn’t dedicated to their work.

Having multiple full-time jobs in a short period of time can be a sign of instability and a lack of commitment. It’s possible that the applicant was laid off multiple times due to a lack of competence or that they can’t find a good fit. This could be a warning sign that the applicant might not be a reliable employee.

So be wary of job seekers with a history of job hopping. Look for applicants who have demonstrated commitment and dedication to their previous roles, and who have a stable employment history.

7. Unexplained employment gaps

Employment gaps in and of themselves are not necessarily a red flag. There are many valid reasons why someone might have a gap in their work history, such as travel, childbirth, starting their own business, or dealing with illness or personal loss.

However, it’s important to pay attention to the length of the gap and whether there’s an explanation for it. A short gap of a month or two might be reasonable, but several unexplained months or years could be a red flag.

Be cautious if an applicant attempts to hide gaps in their employment history by only listing years instead of months or leaving out jobs altogether. This could be a sign that they’re trying to hide something or that they’re not being completely honest about their work history.

8. Lack of career progression

Be cautious of applicants who have spent several years in the same kind of role or whose career has regressed over time. Ideally, a new job should be a step forward in someone’s career, with a change in job title and increased responsibility.

If an applicant hasn’t taken a step forward in their career in years, it could be a sign that they lack motivation or aren’t qualified for more advanced roles. Also, if previous employers didn’t trust the applicant with more responsibility, it’s possible that you won’t be able to trust them either.

If an applicant seems to be using your company as just another step on their resume, they may not be fully committed to the job or the company’s success. So be wary of applicants who haven’t shown any upward career progression or who have had issues with trust and responsibility in the past. 

Look for candidates who are motivated and have a track record of taking on new challenges and responsibilities.

H2: 9. Multiple career changes

While not too common, career jumps from one industry to another every few months are a major resume red flag. While it’s understandable for people to change their career focus if they’re not happy in their current industry, doing so multiple times is a red flag.

If an applicant doesn’t have a track record in your field, they might just be using your job as a temporary option with no intention of staying or progressing in that career. It’s better to hire someone who has spent a reasonable amount of time doing similar jobs and who is committed to the industry.

So, as you evaluate job applications, pay attention to the applicant’s career history and look for candidates who have a track record of commitment to their chosen field. Hiring someone with relevant experience and a genuine interest in your industry is more likely to result in a successful hire.

H2: 10. Unprofessional social media presence

If you can easily find your applicant online, so can your clients and customers. While having a professional LinkedIn profile can reflect positively on an employee, any derogatory or aggressive comments on Twitter or Instagram can reflect negatively on your company and even cause major issues down the line.

If one of your employees presents themselves negatively online, it can bring the values and culture of your company into question. That’s why it’s important to check an applicant’s online presence, even if they haven’t included it on their resume or cover letter. 

You want to make sure that they have nothing to hide on those platforms and that their online activity aligns with the values and culture of your company.

While it’s important to watch out for resume red flags, it’s also crucial to consider the candidate’s entire career and experience. Sometimes, red flags can be the result of bad advice or other unknown factors.

If you’re having a hard time finding great applicants or streamlining your onboarding process, Homebase Hiring is here to help. With our hiring and onboarding tools, we’ll post your job description on leading sites and help you find the perfect candidate. 

We’ll also make the onboarding process easier by sending your new hires a digital packet with all the required forms. Don’t let the hiring process stress you out. Homebase is here to help you find the perfect candidate. 

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