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Resume Tips – 5 Resume Red Flags

9 Oct, 2018

Resume Tips – 5 Resume Red Flags

Prospective employers may spend as little as six seconds looking at your resume to make an assessment of your abilities and to match those abilities to their job opening. In those six seconds they do not read every word on the resume!

Instead, employers look at the overall formatis it easy to read? Does this resume contain the relevant information to their particular field? Do the first bullets at the top of the resume match their job description? If any of these things do not meet their criteria, they move your resume into the “bad pile.” Resumes in the bad pile are those resumes that will never be read completely and probably will not be looked at again.

Avoid these five resume red flags to make sure you stay out of the bad pile!

Red Flag #1: Resumes written in third person.

Resumes should never be written in third person. Use first person and choose the present or past tense to showcase the most important and relevant information to your employment goals.

In the example below, you will see that a resume written in third-person does not have the dynamic impact of a resume written in first-person: Jane Doe is an excellent event manager and never went over budget.

The resume statement above does not use action verbs and is not a strong statement of Jane’s abilities. We know this resume is written about Jane because her name is at the top of the document, so there is no reason to keep stating Jane’s namewe need to use that space to sell her abilities to the prospective employer!

A stronger, more relevant resume statement would start with a strong action verb: Managed numerous large and small events, always staying within budget.

Red Flag #2: Resumes that do not have eye appeal.

If the resume is not appealing to the eye, you will turn off the prospective reader immediately. No one wants to read a resume that is formatted with tiny font and no white space! White space allows the eye to rest between reading and absorbing the content and it acts as a clue to important information the employer should read with care.

At the same time, a resume with too much white space will make it look like you have no relevant experience or skills to offer the employer. Find a happy mediumkeep the resume readable and clean while filling the space.

Red Flag #3: Resumes written in an inappropriate format.

Never write the resume in complete sentences! There is a format and style to resumes and curriculum vitae (CVs) that is different from other genres of writing. The resume must be written in a way that anyone who picks it up and looks at it will know that it is a resume.

This is not to say that you label the document RESUME at the top of the page! Instead, you must utilize effective formats and the common language of your field to indicate your knowledge in a way that is immediately recognizable as a resume.

Red Flag #4: Resumes that are not an appropriate length.

Employers and recruiters are very busy people and expect to read a certain amount of content depending on the type of job they are hiring for. For example, they do not want to read a four-page resume from a new graduate with no work experience.

The appropriate length for resumes and CVs is based on depth of experience, knowledge, and current job goals. A new college graduate will not have the same resume as an experienced executive. And neither of those resumes will be similar to the CV used by those in the academia and science fields.

The standard resume length is one page, but do not feel limited to that requirement. If you have years of relevant industry experience, you will want to use two full pages. You can even use three if you have over a decade of experience and are looking for a high-level executive position.

Red Flag #5: Resumes that have not been edited for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Those kinds of mistakes can get even the most qualified job candidate thrown into that bad pile of resumescompletely taken out of consideration for a position. Remember, the resume is an excellent way to show the employer or recruiter how hard you are willing to work.

If you did not edit your resume thoroughly, the people reading it may think you will not put forward enough effort in the actual job position.

After you review your resume carefully, have a friendor tworeview it again for you!

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Maria HebdaDylan PetersonMarcusAnonymousRidley Recent comment authors
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Dylan Peterson
Dylan Peterson

It’s important to know that you can’t write your resume in the third person if you want it to be taken seriously. My sister is between jobs right now, and she wants to make sure that she has as high of a chance as possible of getting the job that she wants. I’ll share this with her so that she can get her resume checked to make sure that it’s written correctly.

Maria Hebda

Thanks for leaving us your comment, Dylan and sharing the information we shared with your sister. We look forward to being of service!


I loved when you mentioned how you should make your resume appealing so you don’t turn off the recruiter. It is important to understand that doing some research can help you find the best way to impress employers with your experience. My brother needs to find a good way to make his resume impressive before he applies with NASA next month, so I wanted to help him with it.

Maria Hebda

Glad you found the information we shared helpful, Marcus! Thanks for leaving your comment and here’s to your brother’s success! We’ll be here if he wants expert help in writing his resume.


What a useful information provided by this blog! It’s remarkable. Thanks for helping me out.


I love your tips for writing a resume. It makes sense that it should be appealing to the eye, because first impressions make a big difference. I really want to write one because I want to get a new job, so I’ll remember what you said here. I’ll talk to my brother, who’s a graphic designer, to help me make it visually appealing.

P. Piper
P. Piper

Thanks for the list of the most common mistakes that resume writers always make. I know how hard it is to write the resume. I have also read that as little as one can drive the hirer away from your resume or any other working document. That’s why, I think it is wise to let the professional writers do their job and let them write the resume for you.