Crafting a resume to perfection is a hard task. Many errors can act as red flags to employers without you even knowing it. Being able to identify what types of things may stand out as negative and how to avoid or fix them is a huge asset when creating your resume pre-interview.

Employment Gaps:

Whether the gap on your resume is due to your own decisions or other circumstances out of your control, a period filled with no employment signals worries to employers. It may not always be a bad thing, but that is why it is a good idea to elaborate on it rather than concealing it. No explanation leaves room for speculation.

Dates of employment that are only listed by year, not the month, may signal an employment gap. The same goes for employment history that has no timestamp at all. Be sure to be specific with your timelines to avoid any uncertainty!

Using a small paragraph of your cover letter to discuss how you spent this time or what led to the employment gap will give employers some insight and justification. Companies will not assume the worst if you can clarify any employment gaps briefly.

Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Errors:

Numerous grammatical and/or spelling errors on a resume come off as a lack of attention to detail. Companies are not looking to hire careless or sloppy employees, so these types of errors will be the first to give you a negative impression.

Something as simple as proofreading should never be the reason you do not land a job, so be sure to check your resume and cover letter for any grammatical or spelling errors. There are even websites to do this for you!

Evidence That a Career Has Plateaued or Declined:

If a career is progressing in the right direction, job titles and responsibilities on a resume will make it clear. Gaining promotions or switching companies to take on a larger role will show potential employers that you have grown professionally since the start of your career.

However, the lack of evidence that an individual has progressed will raise questions. If you have stayed in the same level position for an extended period of time or have gone from a senior-level position back to entry or mid-level, Employers will take this as a red flag.

There could be valid reasons for this such as a vice president’s title at one company carrying equivalent responsibilities as a director in a different organization. Or a manager may have accepted a lower-tier role because a layer of management was eliminated in a restructuring of the company. Childcare can be another reason that an individual may resort to lower-level positions. If you have faced a decline in career progression due to one of these reasons, it is important to note this to your potential employer.

Ignoring Directions:

Credible employers properly outline all the required steps and documentation needed for the application and employment process. Following this outline is key in making yourself a viable candidate.

Cover letters, resume length and salary history may all be important parts of the process. If you fail to meet these requirements or do not submit the requested information, employers will take this as a sign that you are careless or cannot follow directions. You may not even receive a callback or an interview if the necessary steps are not taken.

Similarly, if a company requests a cover letter, do not just send that generic one saved in your files. Take the time to write a letter directly to the company you are applying for. The reason they are asking for this is to get an idea of why you want the position and why you would be a valuable asset to the company.

Being sure to follow a company’s application process step-by-step will give employers a reason to call you or interview you.

Wrap up:

Potential employers look for these red flags on a resume because they are all indicative of the habits and characteristics of a candidate. A resume provides insight into one’s career success or failure, strengths and weaknesses, and the candidates’ professional and personal characteristics.

Proofing your resume of these red flags will make you a more viable candidate for employers and up your chances of getting an interview or even landing the job!