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14 HR Managers Share What They Consider To Be Resume Red Flags

Hunting for a job is absolutely a slog. It’s not fun at all, and of course that extends to the entire interview and hiring process.

If you’re making your way through it right now, hoping to land a job that’s going to be a great fit, chances are you’ll take any advice that will help you with a leg up – so you’ve got to check out these 14 “red flags” from HR managers on Reddit.

14. Proofread, please.

Not in HR but I was recruiting nurses a few months back and had one resume that had a cover page with a large (approx A5 equiv) centered photo. I’m not fond of these in healthcare resumes.

Then on the first page of the resume was a scale where she ranked herself out of 5. She rated her communication and attention to detail as 5/5 but her teamwork as 2/5. I didn’t like the scoring and even worse I didn’t like the low teamwork score where she applied for a ward nursing job.

To top it off it was riddled with grammatical, spelling and presentation errors. Clearly attention to detail wasn’t a 5/5.

13. MLM’s beware.

When their job title says “entrepreneur” and their description just screams pyramid scheme.

12. Seriously, ask a friend to look it over!

I used to run training program, and we had about 4000 applicants for 200 positions each year. Bad grammar and spelling automatically got a resume thrown out, because the job required so much writing. Also, get the name of the agency correct! I had one applicant, who claimed she was a PhD candidate, talk about the Health and Human Cervixes. WTF?

Inappropriate email. One guy had something like Pimp69 for his email. He listed a website of his, and it had a rear nude. Dude. Just what?

11. They will Google you.

So not a recruiter, but I was helping my then manager go over resumes. We googled one dude, and the first thing that pops up is an article about someone getting tried for manslaughter or homicide for selling bad (hard drugs contaminated with something) drugs at the bar he worked at as a bartender, complete with extensive interviews from coworkers saying they were pretty sure he’d sold contaminated drugs purposely.

And we know it was the same dude, BECAUSE HE LISTED THE BAR ON HIS RESUME.

10. Keep it brief.

As someone who went through the ringers in the architecture field and now part of the hiring process . My advice is to keep resumes to one page . We really don’t have time to go through two pages of awards and merits . And portfolios that are above 10 pages really are not necessary.

We have gotten 30-40 page portfolios that are incomplete and look ugly . I rather see 5-10 good pages and a solid one page resumes .

It automatically signals fluff to us , especially when the portfolio lacks substance .

Through my career I have always done 1 page resume , 2 page portfolios, and letters of recommendation . Then on my resume or in emails I give a link to my full portfolio , and full website about my merits .

Also as of lately this whole ” google architect” is real. For example , we have seen a latest trend in work not being original . Almost blatant copies

9. A professional email.

A very unprofessional email is definitely one.

You see some insane emails. I knew someone who got an email address that had “big daddy” in it.

For anyone who needs a professional email address, personally I find any combination of your first, middle, last names, initials, and birthdate are all acceptable.

In fact any numbers but 420, 69, etc. And 123 is fine.

8. Make sure it looks nice.

Not HR, but recruited many times. Poor grammar and spelling. No relevant experience. Inconsistent fonts and layout. Too long.

A well worded resume should convey enough in two pages to elicit an interview.

7. Photos not required (or advised).

Once saw a resume (submitted for the role of Executive Director in a nonprofit) where the guy included a shirtless gym selfie and an “about me” section where he talked about working out.

6. You have to get through the automatic filters.

I worked with a professional to re-do my resume for advancement.

For private industry, one page is ideal, but if you are applying to a senior role and you have over 15 years of experience, you may use 2 pages to show your career trajectory.

That said, you may need two pages for automated resume scanners that are looking for key words. Unfortunately, there are companies that use these and being able to get in those key words is important. E.g. Hobbies “Updating my skills in Excel, PowerBI, and Tableau” to get those key words through even though you may not be an expert in Excel…

Real HR folks may have more advice on this but I was able to get through several automated filters this way in spite of having a non-traditional background.

5. Don’t oversell yourself.

We saw a guy apply for a masters degree internship in a scientific lab saying on the last page of his resume that he had invented the seventh law of magnetism or something like that followed by a nonsense description of what it was. The rest of the resume was absolutely fine, and we reminded ourselves that it is always crucial to read a resume to the end before making any decision.

And piece of advice for anyone who applies somewhere and think they have an unrecognized discovery worth a nobel prize: have it recognized before you put it on your resume.

4. They don’t have all day.

Was recruiting a while back for a couple of positions in my company. Got one cv that was 18 pages long detailing in minute detail everything this guy had done at previous jobs.

Another included a 75 page portfolio.

Suffice to say neither got an interview.

One of the guys that got the job brought a short portfolio of a few pages with plenty of pictures to the interview. Far more appropriate.

3. Make sure your resume is relevant.

My father-in-law was once involved in a hiring process and saw a resume he threw out very quickly. Not only was it chronological instead of anti-chronological (not a red flag per se, but not very practical either).

The first (and oldest) achievement the applicant put on it was her “shoe-lacing diploma”. Yes, the thing we get in kindergarten when you have learned to tie your shoes.

According to the applicant, it proved that she was a go-getter. To him, it proved that she lacked common sense.

2. Maybe the whole truth isn’t always required.

Saw this once work experience- dog walking Reason for leaving – the dog died.

1. This would disqualify you from being a human, honestly.

A headshot where they’re wearing an SS uniform

A literal red flag.

Good luck out there, friends. You can do it!

If you’re involved in hiring, add your own red flags in the comments.