Resume Warning Signs: When It’s Time to Just Say ‘No’

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BearGiven that the cost of a bad hire  can exceed $50,000, no one wants to make a hiring mistake. Poor hiring decisions — including misjudging a candidate’s cultural fit, competencies, and goals — can account for as much as 80 percent of employee turnover.

If you’d rather not lose employees and money — and, really, who wouldn’t? — you need to put some filters in place. It’s impossible to bring every candidate in for an interview, so a resume review should be your first line of defense.

When it comes to what you should specifically look for in each resume that crosses your desk, some things will undoubtedly be role-specific. That being said, there are some universal warning signs to watch out for. Hiring candidates whose resumes exhibit these red flags may be a very costly mistake.

Typos: Yes, They Matter

Typos have always been a major point of contention between 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? A great candidate may have simply missed a letter in their rush to list every possible skill that qualifies them for the job. It’s also possible that for some of your most qualified candidates, English isn’t their first language.

The problem is that no matter a candidate’s situation, typos are easy to avoid. Spelling and grammar checking programs abound, and yet 58 percent of resumes contain a typo of some form. If your qualified candidate misspells a word or uses poor grammar, they are not as diligent as they say they are.

The language barrier is easier to forgive, but there are several resources out there to help ESL candidates optimize their resumes. And if all else fails, candidates of all stripes can always ask a trusted friend or colleague to help them proofread their resume.

Typos may not outright disqualify a candidate, but if you’re torn between two equally qualified candidates, then typos can definitely become deciding factors. Ultimately, typos reflect a lack of dedication and attention. If a candidate couldn’t bother to perfect their resume before sending it to you, how diligent will they be on the job?

Social Media: the Second Resume

CoffeeBy now, most candidates will assume that you’re checking their social media profiles. Surveys show that 43 percent of employers use social networking sites  to research candidates, and 12 percent more plan to start doing so. That means candidates now have a “second resume” to groom, in the form of their social media presence. As with traditional resumes, a candidate that does not bother to at least put on a good face for employers shows the same lack of diligence that leads to typos.

When candidates don’t keep up appearances, employers notice. Fifty-one percent of employers who check candidate social media profiles have found content that has disqualified candidates from an open position. Digging through a candidate’s social media presence may seem uncouth to some, but publicly available information can reveal a lot about how suited a candidate is for a 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, and 58 percent of employers have caught a lie on a resume. Here are some items you’ll definitely want to fact-check when screening  resumes:

  1. 40 percent of candidates inflate their salaries on their resumes.
  2. 30 percent of candidates inflate job titles on their resumes.
  3. 30 percent of candidates alter employment dates on their resumes.

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

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 the resume is accurate, and seek out other sources (like social media) to get a better sense of the people you’re thinking about hiring before you hire them.

By Erin Engstrom