CV Tips

If you have been applying for job positions for a while and are not getting any desirable responses, the reason behind this might be that your resume has some red flags that make recruiters stay away from you. Believe it or not, it is very easy to screw up your resume and there are a lot of ways to pull it off, that you might even not be aware of. Luckily, here is a list of Resume Red Flags that you should avoid while making your resume.

Red flag #1: Obvious mistakes

One of the biggest red flags on a resume is bad grammar, incorrect spelling, and punctuation errors. Another red flag from the same vicinity is the obvious cut-and-paste information shovel.

Your resume is the first mode of communication you have with the recruiter. To a recruiter, it seems like a candidate that does not have an eye for detail, might not be very dedicated to their work.

Even though not everyone is great at these things, it’s important for you to show that you pay enough attention to your resume to make sure you do not submit a resume with mistakes. Most recruiters who have an eye for detecting errors are more likely to favor more polished and error-free resumes. A lot of professional cv writing services offer this as a standalone service which should give you an idea of how important this factor is.

The following are a few ways to eliminate these errors:

  • Reading your resume out loud
  • Reading your resume backward or section by section
  • Uploading your resume to a free resume checker
  • Asking a friend or family member to double-check for mistakes

Red flag #2: Poor formatting

Before submitting a job application, it is important to pay attention not just to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but also to the overall formatting of resumes. Recruiters only spend a few seconds to scan your resume, to extract the required information, it is essential to make it easy for them to read and analyze that information. Poorly formatted resumes are harder for the recruiter to read, making it very tough for them to navigate and extract the key information they are looking for in a potential candidate. Bad formatting also causes issues with Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which can lead to your resume getting a lower score and getting rejected even if you fit the criteria.

Instead of using over-the-top fancy formats, instead, use a simple format eliminating the chances of confusion and jumbling-up of information.

Remember easy on the eyes, easy on the mind.

Red flag #3: Too much (or too little) information

It is not unusual to be carried away while writing and find yourself with long boring paragraphs that make no sense. You must refrain from including information that’s irrelevant to the job search such as marital status, number of children, or your exact street address. Overall, it makes no sense and makes it harder for the recruiter to find the relevant information they are looking for.

But at the same time, you must make sure to include relevant details such as your name, phone number, and email address, past experiences, education, and even references so that your prospective employer can contact you to schedule an interview and discuss your qualifications further.

There is a very fine line between oversharing and information being insufficient. This probably makes it feel like walking on a tightrope. A good rule of thumb should be to keep your content relevant and precise. This can easily be done by following the 3 Cs rule; which states that all information should be concise, clear, and complete. Being concise is important because too many words cause misunderstanding and confusion—the shorter the better. Delivering clear information is essential as it eliminates any chances of error. Incomplete information just results in confusion.

Red flag #4:  Employment gaps

Having an employment gap is not something to be embarrassed or afraid of. But it should always have a proper explanation and should be justified. You should make sure; you always explain employment gaps in your resume if you have any or address it in your cover letter. To recruiters, gaps suggest that you were not employed during those periods, implying that you did not perform to the best of your abilities during previous roles, or perhaps you are not fully motivated to find work. There is nothing wrong with an employment gap, but it does raise an eyebrow. There are many valid reasons why you might have a gap in your work history, such as travel, childbirth, starting your own business, or dealing with illness or personal loss.

Candidates who can explain their resume gaps also showcase good interpersonal skills and show that they are conscientious, putting an effort to impress the recruiter by considering how their resume might be perceived, and what questions it might bring across.

Red flag #5: Job hopping

Recruiters constantly seek candidates that have the potential to become reliable, long-term employees as the company will be investing time, money, and effort in training and polishing you and they expect the same kind of commitment in return from you.

If a recruiter finds a candidate who has listed several previous roles at other companies in just the last few months, it’s a red flag for them. This could indicate that the candidate is a job hopper and isn’t dedicated to their work which is a sign of lack of commitment and instability.

You must present and polish your resume in such a way that it demonstrates your commitment and dedication to your previous roles, and your ability to do the same in your future endeavors.

Red flag #6: Unprofessional social media presence

In this day and age, with high-tech, state-of-the-art technology, one should always keep their social media presence in mind. One must be ignorant to believe that potential employers will not do any social media checks as part of their vetting process.

While having no social media presence isn’t likely to be a red flag but having an online presence that clearly disregards or contradicts the beliefs, mission, or vision of the company you applying for, is a clear big red flag. Just like your online presence represents you as an individual, it also reflects on your employer. It also indicates what kind of employee you will probably be like, so if your social media is full of controversial political, social, or religious opinions, it is also a big no-no for some companies.

You do not need to completely change the way you use social media, just make sure it is far away from controversies and unwanted dramas. Here are a few practices to ensure your social media presence does not affect your recruitment:

  • Maintain an active LinkedIn profile so it’s the first thing recruiters see when they search for you online.
  • If you have personal social media accounts, keep them employer-friendly or turn on privacy so you can choose who can see what.
  • Create a reasonably professional or neutral email address dedicated only to be listed on your resume.


There are many ways to mess up your resume and come off as a “Social Pariah”, that recruiters stay away from. Make sure to take the red flags listed above as a guide of what not to do in order to not scare away recruiters, affecting your chances of employment.

Jeena Alfredo is a passionate digital marketer at The Business Goals. She is working with other companies to help them manage the relationship with The Business Goals for the publications.


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