Prospective employers may spend as little as ten seconds looking at your resume to make an assessment of your abilities and to match those abilities to their job opening. In those ten seconds they do not read every word on the resume!
Instead, employers look at the overall format – is it easy to read? Does this resume contain the relevant information to their particular field? Do the first bullets at the top of the resume match their job description? If any of these things do not meet their criteria, they move your resume into the “bad pile.” Resumes in the bad pile are those resumes that will never be read completely and probably will not be looked at again.
Avoid these 3 resume red flags to make sure you stay out of the bad pile!
Red Flag Number 1: Resumes that do not have visual appeal.
If the resume is not appealing to the eye, you will turn off the prospective reader immediately. No one wants to read a resume that is formatted with tiny font and no white space! White space allows the eye to rest between reading and absorbing the content, and it acts as a clue to important information the employer should read with care.
At the same time, a resume with too much white space will make it look like you have no relevant experience or skills to offer the employer. Find a happy medium – keep the resume readable and clean while filling the space. Consider using bold, italics, small caps, and lines to enhance the format – but don’t overdo it!
Red Flag Number 2: Resumes written in an inappropriate format.
Never write the resume in “story” mode! Get right to the point and focus on the Situation, Action, and Result. There is a format and style to resumes and curriculum vitae (CVs) that is different from other genres of writing. The resume must be written in a way that anyone who picks it up and looks at it will know that it is a resume.
This is not to say that you label the document RESUME at the top of the page (don’t do what the picture shows – the resume label is great for blog pictures, but not great for resumes)! Instead, you must utilize effective formats and the common language of your field to indicate your knowledge in a way that is immediately recognizable as a resume.
Red Flag Number 3: Resumes that have not been edited for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Those kinds of mistakes can get even the most qualified job candidate thrown into that bad pile of resumes – completely taken out of consideration for a position. Remember, the resume is an excellent way to show the employer or recruiter how hard you are willing to work. If you did not edit your resume thoroughly, the people reading it may think you will not put forward enough effort in the actual job position. This may sound like a strange connection, but it happens all the time!
Avoid these red flags by carefully reviewing your resume, and then having someone review it again for you!