Your resume is one of your greatest assets during your job search – but it can also hinder you, if some things are left unexplained. Being aware of these problems can help you craft a resume that will make you a standout candidate in your job search. Remember, it’s all in the way you present the information. Here are some perceived resume red flags, as well as the actual things you should be looking out for.
Not a red flag: Working at a lot of jobs.
You may have heard that working at a lot of jobs can be a red flag in a job search. Especially in the gig economy, it’s common for people to have a long list of previous employers on their resume. In this context, working at a lot of jobs means you’ve acquired a lot of skills, and you’re in demand. You’re flexible, adaptable, and you’re likable enough to be hired by lots of employers. Use your resume to show these strengths.
Real resume red flag: Short periods of employment at each job.
Maybe each gig was meant to be very short. If that’s the case, be ready to talk about that in your upcoming interviews. If possible, throw an explanation into your resume or cover letter. State in your resume that the intended duration of the job was the length of time recorded on the resume.
Not a red flag: Having an employment gap.
Employment gaps happen for lots of reasons. People take time off work to learn skills, relocate, go to school, take care of their family members, and so on.
Real resume red flag: Not being able to speak to the period of unemployment.
It’s important to be able to speak about your period of unemployment easily and comfortably. Be ready to answer questions about your employment gap during your upcoming interviews. Practice delivering your explanation to a friend or relative who can tell you whether the answer you give is satisfying and descriptive enough.
Not a red flag: Working in different industries.
Working in different industries just means that you’re flexible, have diverse interests, and can apply your skills across many work environments.
Real resume red flag: Applying for a job you don’t have previous experience in.
You might be able to say that a previous job gives you relevant skills, but if your resume doesn’t overlap with the job duties, you may look under-qualified. This is one of the bigger resume red flags, but it’s not a hard one to avoid. Pick out keywords from the job you’re applying for and be sure to include those keywords in your resume. This shows how your experience, though different, does overlap with the experience they’re seeking in the job you’re applying for.
About the Author: Kathryn Elwell grew up in the Midwest. She has experience in management and human resources, and has been writing on these topics and more for 12 years.