SmartRecruiters Blog

4 Resume Red Flags

You may or may not know this but I’m an Expert Resume Writer.  I know employers don’t want to waste time with unprofessional resumes. I see a ton of resumes and I make them better. Part of making them better is fixing what’s wrong. It’s not only design elements and formatting that makes a poor resume; there are other factors that represent red flags to a recruiter or even an applicant tracking system. I’m going to share with you the top resume red flags which should cause you to think twice about interviewing that candidate.

1. Poor Sentence Structure!

In this IPhone, text happy digital age, the art form of communication has been lost.  We do not know how to communicate with each other effectively, especially as it relates to the written form. Sadly some employees in the workforce could not tell you the difference between a personal letter, business letter or a resume. And believe me your resume is being judged! Sorry, but it’s true, employers use the resume to judge a candidate’s ability to communicate, construct a sentence or complete a clear thought. And unfortunately, there are way too many people who just can’t put together a good sentence. This is a red flag because you can’t hire someone who can’t communicate.

2. Dates that Don’t Add Up!

This is not my favorite subject but it’s real, and I want you to be prepared. Resume screeners scan resumes looking at your employment dates; they are looking for gaps in employment. As unfair as it may seem some screeners and recruiters are given strict orders to weed out those individuals with excessive employment gaps. So be sure that your resume is in chronological or reverse chronological order. This way the screener can see all of your job history. If you are using a functional style resume which highlights your skills first, you need to reformat it.

3. Listing Inaccurate Skills

Does the candidate have 80% of the skills? For many jobs, the employers are looking for top talent that includes a college degree, a certification or a valuable trade. Experience is always great, however there is starting to be a shift in the world from experience to skills. Does the candidate have the skills and experience you are looking for? Smart employers verify that candidates have the skills they claim to have (reference checks, assessment services, etc.).

4. Lies

Finally, some people try to outsmart the recruiter and they use unclear job titles and duties which seem to represent a conflict. For instance I once saw on a resume “Senior Junior I.T. Associate.” Seriously, a “senior – junior associate”? Doesn’t make sense. I’ve also seen job duties which seem unbelievable such as “Managed ALL processes” or “Trained ALL employees” or “Developed procedures for the ENTIRE company.” Be skeptical when candidates use all inclusive words and describe the self as the kind of employee who can do everything for everyone, it just comes across as hard to believe. Also think about this, with the emergence of LinkedIn, employers can compare your resume to your LinkedIn profile and it can be easily determined if you are lying on your resume. Don’t believe me? Check out this article, written by a fellow SmartRecruiter’s contributor Adam Spector “5 Ways To Fight Resume Fraud.”


Here are a couple more red flags; unprofessional or ridiculous email addresses, for instance “[email protected]” or “[email protected].”

Spelling errors are killers – we’ve talked about this before – one spelling error is forgivable but multiple errors a habitual. Spelling errors speak to lack of professionalism and care.

Now you know – hope it helps!


chris fieldsChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes ( Photo Credit The Nick Page

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates, and make the right hires.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.