Resume Red Flags That Can’t Be Ignored

The resume is typically the first introduction between a job seeker and hiring manager. A job posting can attract dozens, hundreds, even thousands of resumes, making the hiring decision a difficult one. Certain red flags can and do appear on these documents that make it easy to eliminate a potential employee before he is ever given an interview.

Resume Mistakes & Red Flags

Many people see a job posting and feel they need to do anything they can to stand out from the competition. They want to be the best recruit for the job. But one red flag for any company is receiving a resume that is completely outlandish. Some examples of this include resumes covered in glitter, written on coffee mugs or clothing, or sent with a bouquet of flowers. While this is a surefire way to get noticed, employers won’t take you seriously and will toss your resume, glitter and all.

Another red flag is vagueness. If there are no dates for employment or accomplishments are discussed in an obscure fashion, the hiring manager should be wary. A strong resume, on the other hand, will have specific and impactful information, such as sales numbers or other metrics.

Writing in full sentences is also not recommended. Keep it short and sweet by using bullet points. Those applicants who write a novel-length resume will find themselves on the outside looking in.

Spelling or grammatical errors should be the easiest things to avoid, yet hiring managers report they receive these mistakes all the time. Candidates even misspell their OWN names! If you write in a sloppy fashion it suggests to the hiring manager that you will be a sloppy employee who does not take pride in his work. To avoid this embarrassment, have at least two other people review your resume before you apply to jobs. Don’t rely on spell check because it doesn’t always work.

The email address is an important tool and should be professional. Referring to yourself as “Partyguy123″ will leave you with plenty of time to party — because an employer won’t be anxious to speak with you. Most email accounts are free, so it’s easy to get an address that’s taken seriously.

Looking for a job is stressful enough without making it harder by having these red flags staring an employer in the face. A resume should present a person in his best light and as the answer to the manager’s employment problems. Good luck!

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter That Works »


Posted in HR & Recruitment, Job Search Strategy
  • Marie

    Great red flags! I agree with everything listed…

    p.s. it was cute that in the section about mistakes a word was omitted as if to prove a point that we cannot rely on the spell checker! (review your résumé before apply to jobs) ;)

    • Rachel Dotson

      Touché, Marie! Apparently resumes aren’t the only things that need to be proofread ;) So, about guest posting for us…

      • Marie


    • Donna Julian

      I do not want to be to lindekin or twitter or anything else for that matter. Why do I need to to this??? I do not have accounts nor do I want any.

      • Kester

        Whether you are in business or seeking employment, social networking is the growing trend and venue for doing business today. Regular folks use LinkedIn for professional networking, connecting, and job searching. You can search for jobs, join groups, research companies, and network with members of their network. A lot of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting and for providing company information to prospective employees. They can post information about the company and job listings on company pages, and companies can also contact LinkedIn members for recruiting purposes. I think you should try it…. if nothing else, it is informative. Like they say: Knowledge is power(wisdom)… and who wouldn’t want that?

        • Donna Julian

          Got your point…I guess I will have to join then. Thanks for your help. And YESn knowledge is POWER!!!

        • Michel Bouchard

          Knowledge is power; I can not accept that , since to me, it as been a cancer. See I’m 51 years olds and I believed that a employeur looks at it as ” OVER QUALIFIED”. Since April 2013 I’ve been out off EI and out of 7 days I have send the same resume (resume edit by proffesional).But starting to work in 2 days. From a mangement former job to a small local PIZZA RESTO; as a cook” 10.50 per hour”.

  • Auds

    I like that the word embarrassment is misspelled. Good points, though most people know of them and still make these mistakes anyway.

  • Steve

    Speaking of grammatical errors: oneself, not “one’s self.”

    • Rachel Dotson

      It’s a good thing we weren’t using this blog post to apply to a job!

  • Jennifer Valentine

    How do I know if my resume went through to the job I apply for

    • Rachel Dotson

      Hi Jennifer. There are a couple of ways you can know. First, you should have received a confirmation email (check your junk mail) after applying. Second, you can log into your account and go to This page will show you the jobs that you’ve applied to, as well as the status of those jobs. If you have any more questions, please feel free to respond to this or to contact Thanks and best of luck finding your perfect job!

  • Hamidullah. A. Elmy

    I am seeking for role player jobs. I worked with Deffieren Company for the last four years, I’m hard worker and have Army experience. If you are hiring, I am ready to join at any time.
    Thank you.
    Hamid A. Elmy

  • William M harman

    What is the status of this millwright job in Columbus Ohio ?

  • Human Services

    Great little tid-bits to help in landing oneself in a nice position ;)

    • Donna Julian

      Why do I keep getting alerts from y’all talking about red flags and you don’t say what they are. So, if you can not identify them…then don’t send the alerts. Thanks

  • Aziz husain

    someone please help me!! i am not able to express my views on paper.

  • Donna

    I am on Linkedin but not sure I am using it effectively. I am linked to a few people (not many) just some friends and associates. Is there more that I should be doing?

    • Stephanie Clark-Ochoa

      There are a number of resources (webinars and on the ground classes) that can give you more insight and instruction on how to leverage LinkedIn. First stop, check out LinkedIn’s Learning Webinars (