The Consult Guide to Resume Red Flags
There are a combined 118 years of recruitment experience in the Consult offices.
This means a lot of interviews, client meetings and an incredible number of resumes reviewed.
One of the benefits of working with Consult is the expertise that we have developed over time. Part of this expertise is developing an understanding of resume ‘red flags’.
These are resumes where our hunch has proven to be correct – time and time again.
The thing is, sometimes making quick decisions based on years of experience is the smart way to do things. As Malcolm Gladwell says in Blink, rapid decision-making based on an unconscious database of experience – or ‘thin slicing’, as he calls it – is not to be sneered at. It’s efficient and often results in better decisions than painstakingly analysing all the available information.
Based on our battle scars, reflections, successes, and experience – here are some sure-fire ways of identifying if your “stellar applicants” are actually potential hiring disasters:
1. FLOWERY FONTS, COLOURS, BORDERS, CLIP ART AND OTHER FORMATTING WEIRDNESS
Show me an example of an excellent person had time/energy/inclination to “bedazzle” their resume and I will shout you lunch for a month. I mean – really? Throw in pretty borders or flouncy writing you can’t read and it’s, well, a recipe for disaster. Don’t ever go there – even if their bedazzling skills are impressive (and my oh my, some are).
2. GLAMOUR (OR NOT) SHOTS
Whilst popular in some foreign lands, in good old egalitarian NZ, we like to think that people are chosen because of their skills, not because they are “incredibly good looking” models. It’s good to be remembered – but back yourself as being more than a pretty face or an ugly mug – it’s your ability to be epic in your role that we are interested in.
3. COMPANY LOGOS
We always look at companies you’ve worked in – but we don’t need to see their logo. In our experience, most people who bolster their resume by cutting and pasting logos from employers’ are not superstars. I don’t know why this is – perhaps this would be a good thesis topic for someone?
In any case – just don’t do it.
4. TOO MUCH INFORMATION
Driver’s licence numbers, dates of birth, children’s dates of birth, lists of minor surgeries, sports achievements from primary school….I could go on. Again – focus on your skills for the role you are applying for and don’t waste valuable resume space on details that are irrelevant for the reader.
5. A LONG LIST OF REFEREES, INCLUDING THEIR CONTACT DETAILS
You’ll need referees at some stage in your process. But keep them close to your chest until you are happy releasing their details. Firstly because that is the polite thing and also because you don’t want people you don’t know hassling your referees.
6. 25 PAGES OF HISTORY
It’s great to understand how you got to where you are, but you’re applying for a job, not to publish a novel. Make sure your resume is succinct, to the point and relevant for the reader.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules – so follow your instincts. But if you are trying to cut down a long list of people, applying the 6 red flag rules is likely to assist in the process.
Disclaimer: If you’re reading this thinking “my bedazzled resume has my model looks on it because I think it means more people will want to hire me”, don’t worry. You are in charge of your own resume and it can look however you want it to look.
Just keep your cat’s birthdate off.
The job search beast can be a hard one to tame. If you’re in need of help to find a job in the accounting, finance or banking fields, then why not get in touch and have a confidential chat to one of our experienced consultants?