You thought you nailed it. And yet, once again, you're asking yourself, "Why do I keep getting rejected from jobs? This one seemed like the perfect fit."
When recruiters and employers advertise a job opening, they often get inundated with applications. Many of the applications come from unqualified candidates, so companies rely on applicant tracking systems (ATS) and resume red flags to quickly weed out undesirable candidates. If you keep getting rejected from jobs, your resume might contain a red flag or two (or three). Here are the biggest red flags to look for on your current resume, and info on how to fix them before you send out another application.
1. Poor formatting
Your resume format reflects your presentation and attention to detail. Formatting issues that can detract from your resume include:
- Misaligned margins
- Too many fonts and font sizes
- Distracting colors
Check out these excellent resume samples to see how your resume measures up. Is the type size too small? Are tabs and indents proving to be a challenge? Our Resume Builder takes the frustration out of creating a professionally formatted one-page resume, with step-by-step guidance on crafting all must-have resume sections.
2. Unprofessional email address
There are two items to consider when it comes to email addresses. First, is yours straightforward and professional or confusing and juvenile? NoodleFace500 was funny in high school, but it's not going to win you an interview now. Ditch the silly name and get a new one — preferably, one that includes your first and last name, or some variation on your first and last name (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The second email red flag arises when you send in your application. Did it come from your work email? Many recruiters and hiring managers will disqualify you for using company resources to find a new position. Always use your personal email address when applying for a job.
3. Errors, misspellings and missing words
Employers penalize sloppiness in the hiring world. Remember, they're looking for reasons to pare down the list of qualified applicants. Run spellcheck, print out your resume, read it over, and ask a trusted friend or family member to review it for mistakes. You can't rely on the computer to help you with "their" vs. "there" mistakes or dropped words. Even a minor mistake can cost you a callback and keep you getting rejected from jobs.
4. Vague statements and too many buzzwords
When it comes to conveying work experience and how it connects to the job you're applying for, specificity is critical. While you do want to use keywords mentioned in the employment ad, you don't want your descriptions to be so stuffed with buzzwords that your resume lacks flow and personality.
Use three to five bullet points to list achievements for every work experience. These achievements should be relevant to the specific job for which you're applying. Avoid weak phrases like "participated in" and "familiar with." Instead, choose action verbs such as:
Lean more on how to write a great resume.
5. Too much personal information
Does your resume include a picture, list of hobbies or other information that has nothing to do with the job? Most hiring managers aren't interested in learning that much personal information on a resume. If you have a hobby that's relevant to the industry or company, go ahead and include it. But leave the rest for the interview process.
6. Superfluous objective statement
Some resume experts say having an objective statement at the top of your resume is unnecessary. Others say you should always include a professional summary that connects your experience to the position for which you're applying. If you choose to go the objective statement route, be intentional about it.
For instance, maybe you're changing careers or have been at home raising children and are reentering the workforce. Entry-level candidates should use their objective statement to position themselves and their skills, and to show how motivated they are to begin work in their field.
7. Unexplained employment gaps
Gaps in employment are a major red flag. If you have gaps in your resume and you don't address them, you may be sent directly to the "reject" pile. Using a functional resume instead of a chronological one won't hide the gaps, but a concise, clear explanation can help.
Use a bullet point under the job to explain your unconventional work history: "Left job to care for a new baby" or "Spent one year helping a family member recover from an illness." If you don't address a gap in your resume, you can address it in a well-written cover letter.
8. Mysterious job-hopping
Have you held many positions for less than two years? If so, you may have your answer to "Why do I keep getting rejected?" Depending on the industry, many hiring managers will see this as a red flag. You may have a reasonable explanation for your job history; you can address it in your resume.
Say you stayed at a company for nine months and then moved to another company, because the job you took offered the opportunity to develop project management skills. Note this in the Work Experience section, under the new company/job. You can note it as a bullet point or prior to the bullet points.
You should only note if the move ties to a positive career move. Do not go negative.
9. Ignoring application instructions
Did you send a resume without a cover letter, even though they requested one in the job posting? Ignoring directions will likely get you rejected from jobs. Some companies use application instructions as a test to find applicants with excellent attention to detail.
Your resume should reflect how your achievements and skills make you an ideal candidate for the job. Use our Resume Templates to craft a professional document that's free of red flags and bound to impress any hiring manager.