Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Five resume red flags to avoid

According to a recruitment study, your resume has mere seconds in front of a senior associate, hiring manager or recruiter before they make a decision about your application.

HR staff are trained to look for disqualifying factors. With just seconds to impress, here are five glaring red flags that vex recruiters and see them weed out candidates at a glance.

Messy formatting

Little to no white space on the page, decorative or small type and the complete absence of page margins signal to HR that you may not be their ideal candidate. Beyond your apparent lack of organisation and overgenerous data selection, this may suggest that you don’t have a clear vision or, worse, that you’re imprudent.

Your resume needs to be reader-friendly, but it also needs to be deliberate. This isn’t the time to get experimental with font types or test your Microsoft Office artistry – and your resume certainly shouldn’t act as your memoir. Professionally prepared resumes are considered and highlight only the most esteemed aspects in a career history.

Steer clear of graphics, too many colours and too much information to create a resume that will speak clearly to your prospective employer.

Gaps in your employment history

While HR may anticipate that most resumes will show at least one substantial gap (i.e. over six months) in their employment history, unexplained periods of career inactivity are cause for concern. This is one of the times where things should not be left unsaid. It’s perfectly acceptable to include a short sentence that will explain any gaps of multiple years, such as “Left position to further my education by undertaking a course” or “Left position to travel for a set amount of time”.

In the same vein, too many short-term jobs to a scrutinising eye can suggest you lack the commitment or stamina to persevere in a position. In this instance, it’s worth explaining that your career movements instead reflect a desire for continued professional development.

Using time-worn phrases

It seems tired and clich├ęd that this particular red flag will always make the ‘do not’ list, however it’s still something job recruiters find in resumes. Such terms include “hard worker”, “forward-thinking”, “dedicated”, “detail orientated” and “driven”.

Hiding behind time-worn phrases can appear evasive and will encourage HR to question your talents, work ethic and your own viewpoint on what you can offer the company. Get creative with your resume and use language to frame your strengths.

Lacking results

One step towards making your resume easier to read for time-poor hiring managers is to convert your data from qualitative to quantitative. Numbers, metrics and percentages can often be more impactful than words. Without such data, your resume can appear haphazard or altogether too vague. Would you hire a candidate without seeing hard facts on their successes?

Unprofessional details

A resume is a package deal. While the content is critical, so too are the finer details such as the file name, your email address or your Skype handle. With hundreds of applications for any one job, make sure you include your name on the file to ensure you don’t get lost in the masses. Emails are free, so don’t let your sentimental attachment to an older email address hold you back in your career. Lead with your best professional foot forward.

For a fruitful career in tax, mastering the art of writing a professional resume is the first step to success.

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