10 Resume Red Flags Employers Should Investigate

reviewing a resume

As an employer, one of the first pieces of background research you have at your disposal is contained in the job application materials submitted by hopeful applicants. Most notably, the resume. This important summary of a person’s employment history and qualifications can contain important clues to help you identify if the applicant is worthy of becoming a serious candidate for the job.

You want to find employees who are skilled, experienced, motivated, of high character, and set for the long term. This is a high bar! Going through a pile of resumes to find these qualifications can mean rejecting many of them fairly quickly. On the flip side, accepting a resume at face value and buying into every claim is simply not smart.

According to Forbes.com, some of the most common resume lies revolve around education, employment dates, job titles, and technical skills.

As an employer, if you fail to validate the claims made by employee candidates, you are asking for trouble later when you realize the person you’ve just hired lacks the skills or experience you need, turns out to be a ‘job-hopper,’ or gets ‘found out’ by fellow employees, customers, or the public to have lied on their resume. (Remember the celebrity chef, Robert Irvine scandal? How about Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson?)

Here are 10 red flags to look for when evaluating a resume. Some of these red flags might cause you to cast aside the resume completely, while others will simply require further investigation via in-depth interviews, background checks, or other verification methods.

  1. The resume is not specific enough to your job requirements
  2. The resume describes the person’s roles at length, but fails to point out any specific accomplishments
  3. The information on the resume is inconsistent with what is published on LinkedIn or other sources
  4. The resume appears boilerplate, as if it were copied
  5. The resume is sloppy or unorganized in its presentation
  6. There are gaps in employment history (may or may not be as a result of the individual’s ability to perform in a given role)
  7. There are grammatical or spelling errors, indicating carelessness or lack of attention to detail
  8. The resume fails to address your required information (i.e. your job posting requires a salary history and the resume fails to present it)
  9. Job history lacks consistency in terms of career choices (applicant moves from one industry or field to another, for example)
  10. Resume includes personal information not relevant to the job (may indicate a lack of professionalism)

It is worth repeating that resumes, on the whole, should not be taken at face value and that can mean both positively and negatively. The most important point for employers to consider is to look at each applicant from as wide a perspective as possible. Use background screening to verify claims in order to make your best hiring choices.

About MichaelGaul

Michael is a results-oriented marketing executive with over two decades of experience in employment screening, physical security, and business process management. Michael has deep experience in human capital risk management and a passion for educating business leaders and HR professionals on strategies that tangibly protect their interests. Michael serves on the Board of the Secure Cash and Transport Association (SCTA) and is a member of the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS).
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