Resumes are tricky—whether you are writing them, or reading them.  As a hiring manager, it is imperative that you weed through resumes to find ideal candidates.  And frankly, what a resume doesn’t say can be just as important as what it does say.   Here are eight resume red flags to look out for according to staffing professionals:

  1. Look for a well-organized, clearly formatted, easy to read resume.  Resumes that are scattered or don’t make a good first impression could indicate a lack of organizational skills or critical thinking.
  2. Look for grammatical, spelling, and typing errors. Sloppiness shows a lack of attention to detail.  The mix of first person and third person, or present and past tense also falls into this category.  Communication skills both verbal and written are important for any position.
  3. Look for career progression and longevity. At least two years at each position is ideal.  Life happens, companies are bought and sold, and circumstances may prevent a two-year stint.  Make sure there is an explanation.  One short-term gig with explanation can be understandable.  Several can indicate a person who doesn’t mesh with a team, or who can be hard to get along with.
  4. Look for ambiguous gaps in employment. Again, life happens and some things are easily explained.  Beware of what can be lurking in the gaps and the extent to which the candidate is trying to hide it.
  5. Less can be more on a resume. Look for content or titles and responsibilities that are exaggerated.  Candidates who exaggerate may not be qualified for the position for which they are applying.  Excessive wordiness and long explanations could indicate a lack of understanding or someone whose integrity may be questionable.
  6. Look at the hard facts, skills and experience which match the position. Don’t overlook outside industry experience.  Many skills and qualities transfer across a broad spectrum of industries.  The resume should be tailored for the position.  It should be relevant and not generic.  By taking the time to tailor the resume, the candidate is demonstrating an understanding and a desire for the position.
  7. While you want to see the candidate’s personality on the resume, you should beware of uncomfortably personal details, or a list of irrelevant hobbies or interests. We all might have quirks and hobbies that help make us interesting people, however, if they are not relevant to the position, they should not be included on the resume.  This includes cutesy email addresses.  Resumes are business documents and email addresses are free—candidates should be professional and appropriate.
  8. Finally, a candidate that has demands cited on his or her resume may indicate someone who is self-serving. It is more appropriate for a candidate to show how they can contribute to an organization and bring value, not what they demand from the organization.  Demands should be part of the negotiation, not the first impression.


A trained eye can decipher these indicators and many more.  Working with a professional staffing agency can save time and money.  They can weed through a stack of resumes quickly and pluck the ideal candidates for your position.  A staffing professional can conduct preliminary interviews to delve deeper and uncover details of any warning signs which will further trim the number of candidates before presenting for your review.  Knowing these eight resume red flags can mean the difference between a hiring a mismatched individual, and a new employee ideally-suited for the position and your organization.