Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

7 Signs Of Bad Resumes That You Need To Look Out For

When you’re reviewing hundreds of resumes a week, you need to be able to spot the bad ones quickly. Not knowing which red flags signal possible bad hires can lead to a lot of wasted time and money.

But, depending on the position and the candidate, some resume mistakes are forgivable. So how do you know when to give a job seeker another chance or just move on?

These are the resume signs that hiring experts use to help them weed out the wrong candidates:

1. Confusing flow

First, make sure the resume is chronological and not confusing to read. I have seen job seekers passed over because of this. The resume should also highlight why the job seekers is a fit for the specific role they are applying for, not just an overview of their experience and skills.

Also, grammar mistakes or not following established parameters will knock a resume out, but being under qualified isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. If the person is under qualified but a rockstar in other ways (intangible qualities, technical skills, etc.) a company could still hire them because of their potential.

Carly Tansil

Carly Tansil, Recruiting Coordinator, Betts Recruiting

2. Bad formatting

Many resumes experience death by bullet point, poor formatting, tiny font, and including out-of-date resume sections, like an “Objective” or “References.” Bad resume formatting is a big deal breaker.

For hiring managers who care about good writing, they can’t look past the mistakes to even consider the rest of a candidate’s qualifications. This includes seemingly small things like inconsistent use of punctuation and poor page breaks. I’ve also moved past many a “detail-oriented” and “quick learning” resume because, well, buzzwords.

Aaron Cleavinger

Aaron Cleavinger, Managing Partner and Executive Recruiter, Murdoch Mason Executive Search Group

3. Generic resumes

The first trash can is for resumes that significantly under-represent the job posting’s requirements. Those people typically are just spamming, using the shotgun approach, rather than tailoring their resume to the opportunity or going after opportunities that fit their skill set and work history. It is rare that a hiring manager will take a risk with an obviously unproven candidate.

The second group to get tossed are those resumes that you can’t decipher. A resume should at least indicate that your experience qualifies you for the posted role. And it should be clear, clean, and focused. If it takes too long to figure it out, it’s out.

Mike McRitchie

Mike McRitchie, Career and Small Business Strategist,

4. Unwarranted overconfidence

A big resume deal breaker is when a candidate appears to be full of themselves or not humble. For example: “I am sure I can make a positive impact on your bottom line” or “I will be a great addition to your team.” Those things are for me, as the employer, to decide — not for them to presume.

Rocco Baldassarre

Rocco Baldassarre, Founder and CEO, Zebra Advertisement

5. Lack of true interest

For me, being underqualified generally isn’t a dealbreaker, but a lack of effort is. A lack of spelling and grammar errors on a resume certainly isn’t reason alone to hire someone, but too many errors shows that the candidate isn’t serious about the position.

This goes beyond the resume itself, and has to come out most notably in the short questionnaire we ask applicants to fill out. If someone wants to answer with one-word responses, that tells us all we need to know about their interest in the position.

Marc Prosser

Marc Prosser, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Fit Small Business

6. Too many cliches

Resumes that use vague cliches like ‘team player’ or ‘hard worker’ indicate a lack of specific qualifications and no unique qualities. Think about what you need for the job — if it’s technical skills, be sure that is stated on the resume and there is relevant experience to back it up. If you need an innovator, look for experience and skills that are big picture, developing and creating work.

Laura MacLeod

Laura MacLeod, Creator, From the Inside Out Project

7. Excessive job hopping

The biggest issue that I see is having many jobs in a short period of time. I once saw a resume that listed twelve different jobs in twelve months. I was decently impressed at the candidate’s ability to actually get a new job so quickly. However, the number of different position that this person had was enough to elevate my heart rate.

Did the person quit or were they fired? Either way, the answer is NOT good! Will our business just be another notch in the candidate’s belt? There needs to be some continuity in the resume. I absolutely need to see some loyalty to a certain business, even if it’s just a few months.

Pierre Tremblay

Pierre Tremblay, Director of Human Resources, Dupray

What are some other signs of bad resumes that can’t be ignored? Share in the comments below!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.

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