Friday, August 19, 2011

10 Hiring Red Flags to Avoid

By Victoria Brienza

In this economy, companies often are flooded with hundred of applications for a single opening. And so it’s no surprise that hiring managers try to find ways to easily weed through the pile of resumes to get to the most qualified candidates to interview. It’s easier for companies to dismiss candidates than to keep them in the running and complete the whole screening process with prospects who may not pan out.

The trick to giving yourself the best shot at a job is to make a clear path for the hiring manager to see how you fit the job requirements and make sure that your square peg fits nicely in their square hole. The more you can help them easily recognize how you are the best person to meet their needs, the easier it is for them to offer you a job.

To keep your resume from the bottom of the pile, check out these top 10 hiring red flags and learn how to stay on your path to employment.    

1. Your Contact Information

While you may have a cutesy e-mail handle, it may not be the best option to use for your resume. “E-mail addresses are more important than you think,” says Anna H.*, a human resources executive. “Don’t use your 'stage name' like” Remember that e-mail is typically the preferred method of contact and you don’t want the hiring manager to have the question raised again and again, "I wonder how they got that email name?"

With the ability to sign up for a free e-mail account, there is no excuse to not have an e-mail that shows your professionalism (i.e. yourname @ It’s the little things that can make a big difference between a job and the unemployment line.

Anna H. also recommends this following tidbit to job applicants, “No pictures on resumes please! It is an HR nightmare. And for that matter, leave your street address off your resume too, until we ask for it.”

Make sure you use an e-mail account with a professional handle. You can sign-up for a free e-mail from G-Mail, AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail or others. Use this e-mail only for your job search.

Also, make sure that any touch point (i.e. voicemail, text, etc...) a recruiter may use to connect with you is also professional and appropriate.

*All names have been changed to protect the identity of our sources.

2. Lengthy Gaps Between Jobs

With such high unemployment these days, having a lengthy gap between jobs has become almost common. Although most of us will have a gap or two at some point in our career, it is still one of those markers that hiring managers make note of and will probably prompt them to probe you with some in-depth questioning.

While there are gaps of time that can be easily explained, such as childbirth, education, self-employment, etc., it’s the unexplained lengthy gaps that raise a red flag for hiring managers. And in this competitive climate, it’s an easy way to weed your resume out without taking a good look.

If you’ve been unemployed for six months or longer, you may want to briefly mention the reason for the gap in your cover letter and then expand your explanation in person, if necessary. Just keep your reasoning brief and positive in your cover letter. Remember, the best policy is to always be honest and open. Hiding it will be more problematic in the long run.

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