Your resume is a short reflection of your experience. It doesn’t tell the whole story, but it invites potential employers to learn more about your background and open a door into how you can potentially fit into their organization. Typically, less than 30 seconds is spent scanning a resume before it is moved from one pile to another. Here are eight resume red flags to watch for as you craft your own:
- Perm Job Hopping: Consulting or project-based roles have become increasingly popular for tech jobs. Employers can wrap their heads around this type of work because they have a defined start and end. But hopping from one perm job to another raises eyebrows- even in a market where tech talent is in high demand.
- Your Resume Isn’t Relevant: Creating a detailed, yet concise resume is tough. But one or two pages of relevant and focused information about you generates further interest without overwhelming your potential employer. Listing every position you’ve held creates noise that dilutes what’s actually important.
- Being the CTO in a Team of One: Did you start or join a start up as a junior or mid-level engineer? If you were the only technical person, it may be tempting to list yourself as the CTO when you apply to new jobs. But unless you can back up your skills and experience, potential employers may have a hard time translating your resume into your actual capabilities.
- Your Timeline Isn’t Specific: Are months or years missing on the resume? Asking an employer to fill in the blanks as they read through your resume is a sure-fire way to raise red flags. Including the to-and-from specifics eliminates guesswork, uncertainty about months or years of technical experience, and provides a neat timeline to assess your abilities developed within a position.
- Inflating Technical Experience: If it is on your resume as a technical skill, be prepared to answer questions about what you’ve done and how you can apply it to a future job. If you haven’t used a program or language since college and can’t answer a technical question or whiteboard – leave it off your resume.
- Out of Order: If your resume isn’t listed in chronological order that lists the most important / relevant information first – you’re forcing an employer to seek out information that is pertinent to them. Provide them with an easy timeline that lists the most important facts about your experience first. Chances are, the 5th bullet point listed under your third job isn’t getting read at all.
- Resume Photos & Personal Information: In many countries, it is not uncommon to include photos, gender, birthdate, marital status, or citizenship on a resume. However, this can send warning signals to an employer who may think that you don’t understand local customs. While you may be the best candidate for the position – including this information also sets you up for unintentional bias or discrimination before your resume has even been read.
- Buzzword Overload: While resume screening systems search for keywords to match resumes up with jobs– too many buzzwords (or too many of the same buzzword) may turn off a human resume reader. Use the most important keywords to convey your experience; but avoid taking up valuable resume space using words or phrases repeatedly that don’t create any additional value.