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Explaining Red Flags on Your Resume

Getting offered a job you’ve been hoping for is difficult enough without adding a competitive job market and a resume littered with red flags. The goal when submitting a resume is to land an interview, but red flags can get in the way of this. So, what can you do to make sure your resume stands out amongst the crowd and prove your worth even with red flags? Start by having an explanation in mind for each resume red flag. This allows you to control your own narrative and showcase your worth during the hiring process.

Which resume red flags should you prepare the context for so hiring managers and recruiters don’t pass you by?

Job Hopping

Someone considered a job hopper was once seen as someone lacking drive and the ability to commit. When framed correctly, a job hopper is seen as someone with a diverse range of experience when it comes to management and business operations.

As a candidate who is considered a job hopper, how you explain your employment history sets the tone for how a hiring manager or recruiter views your past. Share how working with different management styles accelerated your professional growth and what you learned in each situation. Focus less on time spent in the role and more on what you achieved in it.

Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation Mistakes

If this doesn’t scream lacks attention to detail, I don’t know what does. As a job seeker, take the time to look over your resume and even have another set of eyes take a look. A hiring manager or recruiter might view the candidate as someone who won’t take the time to put their best foot forward on a great job opportunity and isn’t detail-oriented, professionally. Unless a hiring manager or recruiter is looking for someone careless and sloppy, a resume containing spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes will be tossed aside.

Unexpected Exits

When a job candidate is searching for a job without having a job, the unplanned or involuntary departure from an organization needs some background. A hiring manager or recruiter might assume a strong job candidate would not leave their job before having another job lined up. Regardless of why a job seeker is no longer at their previous job, whether that’s due to resignation, a lay-off, or firing, it’s good to explain the exit, focusing on the positives from the experience.

Leave the drama at the door. There’s no need to place blame on anyone involved in an unplanned exit. If you resigned, explain why. If you were fired, be concise and transparent about why the situation unraveled the way it did.

Employment Gaps

Sometimes hiring managers or recruiters might see gaps as the inability to hold a job over an extended period of time, possibly an indicator of poor execution in the position or lack of dedication. On the contrary, employment gaps are justified in most situations, including family/parental leave, continuing education, an economic downturn, or career restructure.

One tip to remember during an employment gap, make the most of it. Work on your professional development or earn a certification. Strive to better yourself as a job candidate.

Lack of Customization

Depending on the job you’re applying to, customize your resume to fit it specifically. Pay attention to detail in job postings and mix in some of the jargon used into your cover letter, application, or resume. It hits closer to home for the hiring manager and recruiter, and speaks to your interest in the position.

What other resume red flags would you address? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out Should You Quit Your Job Without a New One?