The Resume Red Flags of Death: Why No One Calls You for Interviews


If you are not getting calls for interviews, you need to review the documents and information employers are receiving from you. Those things are what employers are basing their decisions upon regarding which candidates they will hire. Usually, if you are not getting interviews, there are red flags deterring employers from considering you. These are the resume red flags of death:

1. Gaps in your work history.

Really, a few months do not matter, but more than six months is considered significant. If you can show on your resume that you were doing something during this time such as freelance work or furthering your education, you will be better off. If you have gaps of years, if applicable, include Stay-at-Home-Mom or Caregiver as your job to show that you were doing something fruitful. Otherwise, employers imagine and don't want to gamble on the worst, like incarceration, serious illness, or laziness.

2. Lack of career progression.

Career progression is not necessarily expected in all career fields, but in many it is projected that as the years go by, you will attain more important status by job title with increasing responsibilities. If progression is not there, employers could assume your work is not worthy of promotion to higher levels or that you lack ambition. You might address this in your cover letter, stating that you enjoy the particular level of the job you have been doing and include the reasons.

3. You were formerly a business owner.

One would assume that with all the capabilities required by an owner that this would be a plus to your resume , but not necessarily. The reason you are no longer an owner is the issue. Employers will not know from your resume unless you include the reason, whether it is because you were an ineffective failure at your job or a victim of the economy or something else. An alternative job title for unsuccessful ventures would be Manager or Operations Manager, and if asked why you became unemployed, you can simply state that the business closed.

4. Career changer without experience or education in the new field.

Employers may think you are grabbing at straws, desperate for any job you can get or that you lack direction. The reason for the career change is best addressed in your cover letter and should show a genuine interest in the new career field and reasons why the employer should choose you over experienced or educated applicants. Don't forget to throw in volunteer and hobby experience if appropriate.

5. You are old-ish.

If your resume states that you graduated from college in 1960, you will not likely get interviews. Age discrimination is illegal but is also in full swing with a candidate pool full of younger and assumedly healthier applicants from which to choose. Usually, the problem begins with applicants in their late forties. Take the year you graduated off the resume and only include the last 10-20 years of experience, with the amount depending on the relevancy of your experience beyond the last 10-15 years. Tip for the interview: Do all you can to look up-to-date and younger than you are and be proficient in the latest technology in use in your field.

6. Lack of clear direction. 

You are a jack-of-all trades but master of none. You have worked in many industries or many different types of positions that do not relate to one another. Employers look for candidates who have a real interest in the job and industry and may question yours. This may be another case for a functional resume .

7. Multiple jobs of short duration. 

Employers call this "job hopping", and assume you will also leave them quickly, wasting the time they spent searching for, interviewing, and training you. The best type of resume format for this circumstance is a functional resume; however, when employers receive functional resume, they often wonder what an applicant may be hiding. If you were freelancing or a contractor, list all companies or persons for whom you worked under one section with your freelance or contractor job title as the heading.

8. You never completed a high school diploma or a GED.

Employers presume this is evidence of lack of ambition or laziness. If you did not complete high school, leave the education section off your resume completely, and it's never too late to look into getting that GED.

Go through your resume carefully looking for red flags, and decide whether you need to have some re-vamping done. Then continue your job search with renewed energy and hope. Your new job is out there. It's time to claim it.

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