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#FirstInHR: Resume Red Flags to Look For

In Interviews — by Erin Engstrom


Given that the cost of a bad hire can exceed $50,000, no one wants to make a hiring mistake. Poor hiring decisions–including misjudging candidates’ cultural fit, competencies and goals–can account for as much as 80 percent of employee turnover. If you want to avoid the revolving door at your company, you need filters in place. It’s impossible to bring every candidate in for an interview, so a resume review will most likely be one of your first lines of defense. When it comes to what to look for in a resume, some things undoubtedly will be role-specific. But there are universal positive signals and warning signs, too.

Typos: Yes, They Matter

Typos have always been a big point of contention among employers and candidates. If a candidate meets all the job requirements, is it really a big deal if they list “attension to detail” among their attributes? Some of your best workers could have simply missed a letter in their rush to list every possible skill that qualifies them for your job. It’s also possible that for some of your most qualified candidates, English isn’t their first language, which can matter more in some fields than others.

However, neither of these issues are impossible for candidates to overcome. Spelling and grammar check programs abound, and yet 58 percent of resumes contain a typo of some form. If your qualified candidate misses a typo or uses poor grammar, he’s not as diligent as he says he is. The language barrier is easier to forgive, but there are several resources out there for ESL candidates to optimize their resume; requesting a resume review from someone in their network is always a possibility, too.

Tweet This: 58% of resumes contain a typo. Does this mean you pitch immediately? Read here: 

Typos may not outright disqualify a candidate. But if you’re torn between two equally qualified candidates, then it definitely becomes a deciding factor. Ultimately, typos reflect a lack of dedication to produce quality work.

Social Media: A Poor Second Resume

By now, candidates have to assume you’re checking their social media profiles. Surveys show that 43 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 12 percent more plan to start doing so. That means candidates now have a “second resume” to groom. And as with resumes, not bothering to at least put on a good face for employers shows the same lack of diligence that leads to typos.

Tweet This: 43% of employers use social media to research candidates, which can be considered a second resume.

When candidates don’t keep up appearances, employers notice. Fifty-one percent of employers who check candidate social media profiles have found content which has disqualified these candidates from the open position. So while it may seem uncouth to check profiles, publicly available information can reveal whether a candidate is really suited for the job. You want to know whether someone has a warrant out for their arrest before you hire them, right?

Lies: No Truth, No Mercy

There may be cases where you can overlook typos. You may not mind that your candidate is a heavy partier with a foul mouth as long as they’re competent and professional in the office. But if a candidate lies on their resume, there shouldn’t be any doubt: They’re not a good candidate.

Lying on a resume should be grounds for automatic dismissal, but 58 percent of employers have caught a lie on a resume. Here’s are some items you’ll definitely want to fact-check:

  • 40 percent of candidates inflate their salary on their resume
  • 30 percent of candidates inflate job titles on their resume
  • 30 percent of candidates alter employment dates on their resume

Always check references and verify employment history. If they’re exaggerating their training, misleading you about job responsibilities or are in any way selling themselves as something they’re not, they’re not the candidate you’re looking for.

Tweet This: 40% of candidates inflate their salary on their resume. Read more resume lie stats: 

In short, in order to make sure your candidates are up to snuff, you have to be as diligent as your candidates say they are. Know what to look for in a resume, verify that they’re accurate, and seek out other sources (like social media) to get a better sense of the people you’re hiring.

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