Avoiding resume red flags

Companies today are accessing resumes at record volumes, so the task of screening resumes is not easy. In this environment hiring managers look to find the good resumes, fast, while maintaining high standards. Effectively spotting red flags on a resume is an integral part of this process. Knowing this, it’s essential that your resume be top-notch and error-free.

Below are some of the most commonly cited resume red flags:

 1.       Content Errors
Errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar are often considered proof of poor written communication skills, or a lack of attention to detail. Even if the position does not directly require strength in these areas, questions are raised about your overall standards. Hiring managers assume you put your best foot forward when sending your resume. Most hiring managers say just one or two typos would red flag a resume. Read your own completed resume a few times, and also have a friend look it over. Fresh eyes might find any lingering errors.

 2.       False Information or Qualifications
Don’t provide false or exaggerated titles, or claim you worked at a place longer than you did. If you think that a hiring manager won’t try to confirm your qualifications, think again. If you are caught in even a minor exaggeration, you might, at the very least, put yourself out of the running for that particular internship, but worse, your reputation is at stake.  

 3.       Missing Information or Gaps
Are you hiding something? When reviewing your résumé, imagine that it belongs to someone else. After reading through it, would you have questions about the information provided or be concerned by a lack of details? If you have questions, an employer will too. Employment gaps are not uncommon. Just providing an explanation will eliminate the mystery, and also gives you an opportunity to discuss other activities you pursued during that time, i.e. volunteering or course work, that might pertain to the internship and your ultimate career goals.

 4.       You don’t explain why you’re a fit for the Internship
The best internship resumes use particular key words that can help hiring managers clearly understand the information provided. Review the internship description and requirements provided by the company and write your resume with this information in mind. Highlight your experience, projects or coursework that match the company’s needs. This will allow the hiring manager to see exactly how your education and experience are a perfect fit for the internship they offer.  

5.       You include too much information
It’s hard to be selective when writing your resume, after all, this is a document meant to highlight your successes and experiences, but too much information can be as tragic as striking gaps. Hiring managers will appreciate your restraint, so keep it brief and pertinent, make good decisions about the information you include, and explain/list that information in a manner that provides the details without running on. Focus on what is relevant to the particular internship you are currently applying for.

To assure yourself the best chance of making the cut, keep your resume accurate, clean and targeted to the internship you seek. (Ready to get started? Create an attractively formatted  resume with this quick tool.)

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3 Comments on “Avoiding resume red flags”

  1. Ted Says:

    Great points, I especially like 4 and 5. I think internship resumes need to be less fluff and more honesty, less about you and more about what you can do for the company and why. In a see of sameness, internship resumes with candor and objectives stand out.

  2. Vicki Millon Says:

    The information you provided on “What Not To Do In Your Resume” was great. However, I would like to know how many years should you go back in work on your resume. Please advise.

    Thank you

  3. Colleen Says:

    For Vicki-
    Generally, you don’t need to go back more than 10 years, unless you have experience prior to that time frame that directly relates to the position you seek.
    Hope that helps. -Colleen


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