How to Spot Red Flags on a Resume

A bad hire often prompts a wave of regret and self-doubt, culminating in the inescapable question: How could we have seen this coming?

Many times, you can't. Sometimes bad hires come about as the result of an unforeseeable mismatch, a combination of factors that couldn't be predicted. But often enough, you can see warning signs ahead of time. In order to learn from the mistake and avoid a similar error in the future, it’s important to review what when wrong.

The first step is a closer reading of candidates' resumes. Companies tend to use these as quick indications of a basic level of qualifications. But you can glean a lot more about prospective employees from certain aspects of their resumes.

It's important to look for those subtle signs of deeper problems -- the red flags that a candidate might not be the right fit for your organization.

These red flags come in increasing levels of intensity, from light red warning of "maybe take a second look" to the deep, dark, foreboding crimson of "don't even think about it."

Employment Gaps

This is a light red flag - blush, really. People take time out of their careers for lots of legitimate reasons. Family obligations, a return to school, even a lengthy layoff shouldn't become a deal breaker.

But a period of time out of the industry can cause some issues. Technology can advance in the meantime, creating a learning curve for people returning to their careers. A knowledge deficit can develop, as well.

Employment gaps shouldn't disqualify someone for consideration. But take note and discuss the situation at the interview.

Failure to Follow Directions

A failure to follow directions can indicate a general difficulty about working within a system. That can become a deal breaker, especially if you have a highly regulated work culture. If you have a lot of procedures and paperwork, for instance, or just work in an industry with a lot of regulatory oversight, missing small instructions can have big implications.

That said, some recruiters overreact to relatively benign deviations from the stated instructions. Don’t throw out an otherwise wonderful candidate because they misread an instruction. Review the level of deviation and determine whether it really indicates deeper issues.

Spelling/Grammar Mistakes

This red flag becomes a little more serious - we've reached the scarlet stage here.

It may seem superficial (and maybe a little petty) to disqualify someone from a position based on a typo. But even a small error can represent a sign of a deeper problem.

Resumes are important. They act as the main marketing tool for a perspective employee. Meanwhile, resumes are short. Proofreading one does not take a significant time investment. Obvious misspellings or grammar errors can indicate a lack of effort.

No Attention to Detail

Here, we’re closer to those crimson flags. If you see a resume that fails to include specific information, it potentially signals a candidate with limited accomplishments and unremarkable experience. They may be fine - how much you should consider these candidates will depend on the prospect pool - but they shouldn't rank among your top considerations.

Vague or unclear statements could mask deeper problems. People often inflate accomplishments by hiding behind impressive-sounding job titles. Or they fudge employment dates to disguise a rocky employment history.

Teaming with a staffing firm eliminates much of the work that sifting through resumes often entails. The recruiter does the legwork for you and becomes your partner in hiring the right fit.

Working with United Personnel allows you to limit your risk while maximizing the quality of your employees. Contact us today to find out more.