Unclear why you’re not getting the interview? Here are a few reasons your resume raises a red flag — and it might not be what you think.
Spelling and grammar errors. Gaps in unemployment. Vague job descriptions.
Most job seekers are well aware of the major no-nos on resumes, but here’s the bad news: your resume probably has other red flags you’re not aware of. Here’s the worst news: There’s no way to know for sure what they are.
Why? Because every recruiter and hiring manager has a different approach, and every company has different needs. A red flag for one position is an asset for another.
What’s a job seeker to do? Well, if you’re a mind reader, that’s a big help. Otherwise, you have to rely on learning about industry norms and consider what you want in a job and a company. Here are a few common red flags:
1. No social media presence
While you should never include a link to a personal profile, not having one at all can also raise concerns. In most positions, technology plays an important role, and your ability to maintain a social media account shows a level of comfort employers want to see.
For many creative jobs, such as Web design, photography or writing, it’s expected as a way to gain access to a portfolio of your work. Depending on your industry, this can be done through a Flickr account, a blog or even a Twitter feed.
For jobs that rely heavily on your ability to network and develop relationships, such as marketing and sales positions, showcasing your large social following can be an asset. For many online marketing positions, it’s a requirement, whether it’s stated upfront or not.
Not sure what the standard is for your industry? In almost any job, it’s a safe bet to include your LinkedIn profile. (Click here to tweet this thought.) A great place is in your header under your email address. It’s unlikely a hiring manager would toss your resume for including it, and you’ll avoid being overlooked because someone assumes you’re a techno-phobe.
2. Too few job changes
You probably know that job hoppers are frowned upon, but staying in one place for too long can also hurt you. Many employers want applicants with a wide range of experience. They may question the depth of your knowledge of the industry or wonder why you didn’t take initiative to find more opportunities for growth.
This is particularly true for any industry that requires a diverse set of skills and expertise, such as technology-related fields and project management positions.
What’s a loyal employee to do? If you changed positions or were promoted, break up those different titles into separate sections. Be sure to highlight any changes in department or location as well.
If you haven’t moved around, it’s even more important to highlight specific accomplishments and continuing education to alleviate any concerns. And before you panic, consider this:
If you’ve been in one position for a long period of time, it’s likely you valued that company’s loyalty to you as well. If a new potential employer thinks loyalty is a weakness, it may not be the right match for you anyway.
3. No hobbies or additional interests
Nine times out of ten, including this section on your resume is a bad idea. Employers don’t care about your life outside of work. (Many of them would probably prefer you didn’t have one at all.)
That being said, for some jobs, it’s crucial to showing why you’re the right candidate. If you’re applying for a position at a surfboard company, the fact you can ride a wave is definitely relevant.
A veterinarian’s office is likely to be impressed by your volunteer work with the local shelter and your three dogs, two cats, one gerbil and tank full of fish. In these instances, not including information about your personal life is a mistake.
Also, some workplaces — particularly younger, tech companies — make a point to showcase their employees’ hobbies and personal accomplishments. For instance, they might post on their blog about an employee winning a chess tournament or share the results of their annual table tennis competition.
It’s about showing that you’re not just qualified, but also a match for the company culture. It’s unlikely your resume would be thrown out for omitting this information, but its inclusion can move you to the top of the pile.
4. You’re too qualified
If you seem too good to be true, employers often assume it’s all false. Even if they believe you, it can bring up questions about why you want the job in the first place and how long you’ll stay if you get it.
This can be particularly frustrating for applicants actively seeking a less stressful position or trying to change industries. Take it down a notch. Look at what’s required for this particular position, and make sure you’re showcasing just those qualifications (and maybe just a bit more).
Don’t be afraid to tone down position titles, too. It’s not lying to list your position as marketing if you were the marketing manager, but that extra word can make a big difference in how you’re perceived.
Also, be careful about over-explaining your positions as this can be seen as overcompensating. The key is to focus on achievements in a clear but concise way.
What concerns do you have about the impression your resume gives employers? Share in the comments.
Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a professional resume writer based in Austin, TX. She’s also a contributor to JobTonic.com, where you can perform a job search and apply directly to multiple top job search sites in one easy location.