November 16, 2023

5 Candidate Resume Red Flags To Look For

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With the average corporate job opening receiving more than 250 applications per role, hiring managers often have a lot of resumes to sift through to find the best candidates. As you review resumes for your open positions, keep in mind these five red flags that could mean a candidate isn’t worthy of continuing through the hiring process.

1. The Resume Is Plagiarized

First, you can run a resume through a plagiarism checker like Copyscape to see if the resume’s contents have been lifted from another website. A 2023 survey of more than 1,000 current and recent job seekers found 46% used the artificial intelligence (AI) tool ChatGPT to write their resume and/or cover letter.

While there’s nothing wrong with using AI for help in writing a resume, a resume that’s completely copied from another site should be a red flag. Anyone using AI for help writing a resume should still customize the content with their own unique, specific achievements. A plagiarism checker can give you a quick idea of how much a candidate’s resume has been copied from another site.

2. Spelling & Grammar Errors & Other Typos

Most jobs require some level of focus and attention to detail. If a candidate has spelling or grammar errors, or other typos like the wrong employer names, that could mean that candidate may not be able to be accurate when they work for your business.

You can run a resume through a spelling and grammar auto-checker, as well as use a site like Grammarly to go a step further to gauge readability. Hiring managers should also look at company names and verify they’re correct by going to the past employers’ websites. Since a resume is an important first impression a candidate makes on your company, ideally, candidates would have taken the time to ensure what they’re turning in is as accurate and professional as possible.

3. Time Spent at Past Jobs Is Consistently Short

Job-hopping is increasingly common today, and it’s not always bad. When a talented candidate gets recruited for a better position, with a higher salary and improved benefits, it’s difficult to criticize the worker for job-hopping. It’s so common that in 2023, “Forbes” reported more than 22% of workers ages 20 and older spent a year or less at their jobs the previous year.

However, a resume full of only short-term positions still makes our list of red flags to watch for. Employee turnover is expensive, costing around one-third of an employee’s annual salary. While lots of short-term jobs could mean a candidate has been consistently recruited, you should also investigate the reason for the job-hopping if you decide to move the candidate along the hiring process – especially if the candidate sought you out and wasn’t recruited by your company.

4. Lack of Data & Specific Achievements

As mentioned earlier, AI tools make it ridiculously easy for candidates to generate a resume in mere seconds. The thing that differentiates valuable candidates from those not as worthy of moving along the hiring process is specific, quantifiable achievement. Think: “Was responsible for a budget of $250K/year”, “Managed 5 Direct Reports and led a larger team of 25 employees”, or “Increased revenue by 70% year-over-year”.

Resumes should have highlights on the candidate’s  “Made, Saved, and Achieved”.  It may be challenging to come up with specific numbers, but candidates should be able to understand their impact at past positions and clearly state that on their resumes. If a resume simply lists out daily job duties, rather than specific and/or data-driven accomplishments, it will be more difficult for you as a hiring manager to accurately understand the value they could bring to your company.

5. Unexplained Employment Gaps

Post-COVID-19, employment gaps have become more commonplace on resumes. Many people were laid off during a difficult economic situation and had trouble finding work for a while. Others left work voluntarily for a time to care for children and/or aging parents. The mental health impacts took a toll, too, motivating some workers to take a break from the workforce to cope with pandemic-caused anxiety, depression and other issues.

If there are employment gaps on a resume post-COVID, look for clues throughout a resume for why. Maybe the candidate used time off to develop their expertise by getting a certificate or degree. Or, there might be some indication in a selected achievements section about what the cause of a professional employment gap was. If the candidate’s resume seems otherwise strong, you can ask about the employment gap during the interview phase.

Find Better Candidates With AccruePartners

If you want to improve your hiring process, AccruePartners can help. Our expert recruiting firm can fully vet and evaluate candidates, verify experience, and present you with the best potential fits for the role. Contact us to get started.

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