When hiring managers receive CV(s), there are certain things that can make them view a candidate negatively, immediately – these are what they call “red flags”. Are you currently applying for jobs, but not having much luck? It could be down to the job market or perhaps there are red flags on your CV that you are not aware of. Know the red flags that can send your CV to the trash box.

Here are a few red flags to be aware of when writing your CV:

1.      Gaps on your CV

career break

Having gaps on your CV can send a red alert to a potential employer. In their opinion you’re someone who can easily leave their role and take another break if things don’t go well for you. They also wonder if there is a gap in your skills and knowledge as a consequence of the break. This is often when the gap is a long one.

Put your hiring manager at ease by letting them know you are now ready for a fulltime career without anymore breaks. Explain the reasons you took the gap(s) in the first place. It may be for parenting reasons and your kids are now in school and you can continue with your career. Or perhaps you travelled – a passion you just had to get out of the way – and are now ready to return to fulltime employment.

2.      Not stating the exact dates you’ve worked for companies

If you don’t state the dates you worked for companies, i.e. the month and the year, hiring managers assume you were there for a short time. For an example, instead of a year, you were only there for a few months. And instead of years, only over a year etc. Specify the exact dates and avoid assumptions.

3.      Short-term contracts

If you’re contractor or a freelancer, having too many short-term contracts with organisations can be seen as a red flag on your CV. Employers automatically think your work was not good enough and this led to your early termination from contracts.

Our advice: Start applying for fulltime jobs, and if there are gaps in your skills, enrol in online courses to brush up your industry knowledge.

4.      Job hopping

red flags on resume

Job hopping is considered as short-term employments – less than two years – that are repeated a few times. If you have been job hopping – going from one job to another in a short period of time – it can become a barrier to future employment. Those who job hop are seen as people who have no long term desires to be in a role. Employers think you will be off to the next job when something better comes along.

Apply for jobs and companies that will keep you for the long-term. And when interviewed, give reasonable explanation for the positions that are considered job hopping. The better you can explain the reasons for leaving, the more you will put employers at ease.

5.      Inappropriate images or pictures

Images and photos deemed inappropriate can also hinder your chances for an interview. It is best to avoid images altogether, and it’s for more than one reason. Nowadays, recruiters and hiring managers use applicant tracking system (ATS) which can make reading images difficult. Send clean, professional CVs without any images.

6.      Grammar and spelling errors

Errors in spelling and grammar are off-putting for many hiring managers. They make a candidate look sloppy and not very detail-oriented. And in worst cases, as someone with poor grasp of the English language. Pay attention to your punctuation, too. Poorly punctuated CV is also looked down on.

Reread your CV before sending it off, preferably at least a day after you wrote it. Sometimes we just need to come back with fresh pair of eyes to catch the tiny mistakes.

7.      Failure to follow directions

Failure to follow directions

Sometimes employers ask for your expected salary, your previous salary and other information they consider important. Sending only your CV and failing to provide the requested information may send red flags to the hiring manager.

If you can’t provide all the information they asked for, don’t waste your time or theirs – move on to the next role.

8.      Lack of career progression

If over a period of time your career remained stationary and didn’t really progress much in an upward direction, it can be viewed negatively. To recruiters, it may be seen as a lack of ambition on your part, or that your output at work was just never good enough to progress to a more senior role.

Find ways to improve your skills. If you are still employed, find out if your current company offers professional training so you can upskill. There are also plenty of online courses offered by companies (including Google) and universities like The Open University. You can do these courses at your pace.  

9.      Changes in your career path

Red flags on CV

So, you began your career in events, then made the move to content manage, then became an English teacher and now you want to return to events? Do you really? Or is it just because it’s another industry you have experience in?

In desperate times you want to apply for jobs in all the sectors you have experience in, but this is a huge red flag on your CV. To hiring managers, you send the message that you are someone who hasn’t found a career path that you are passionate about and would progress in.

Spend time thinking about what you want out of a career. Perhaps then you will find your path.

10. Untailored CVs

If you send a CV that is not tailored for the job, then recruiters will take it as a lack of real interest in the position. Those who take strong interest in the job, take the time to read the description and requirements carefully before matching their expertise and skills to it, using keywords.

By tailoring your CV to the job posting, you also have a better chance at having your CV read by a human. As mentioned before, many hiring managers and recruiters now use an ATS. This software helps busy hiring professionals to find the right candidates without having to read hundreds of CVs.

Ensure you tailor and format your CV correctly to beat the ATS. The CVs that are not formatted and/or tailored for the job, will automatically end up in a “black hole”. This means they are trashed by the system before they reach the hiring manager.

If you would like us to view the state of your CV (or resume as it’s known in some countries), send it to us using this link and we will give you a free CV review.

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