Finding a job in today’s economy can be tough. Competition is fierce enough that minor errors during your application process will quickly disqualify you from a job. These are five red flags to avoid on the most important part of your application — the resume.

1. Grammatical and Formatting Errors

Your resume acts as the first opportunity to leave an impression on a potential employer. Easily-fixed mistakes like typos and spacing problems will send employers running. Why would they give a flawed resume consideration when they have a pile of grammatically perfect ones to select from?

Proofread your resume until you’re certain there are no typos or spacing errors. Have friends and family take a look as well. The more people that read it the better.

2. Gaps in Work History

Employers hate seeing gaps in work history. It shows you have a spotty track record and that your reliability is questionable.

If you’ve been out of a job for long periods of time, it’s best to create the image that you spent that time productively. You can also create your resume in a way that masks the gaps in your career.

3. Criminal Convictions

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who have made dumb mistakes, and people who have a problem with lying. Obviously your resume is no place for a description of your criminal history, but there’s a high likelihood a potential employer will discover your past mishaps anyway. Between social media, criminal background checks, and conspicuous employment gaps, it’s bound to come up. According to Page Law, some of the most common convictions that come up are vehicle-related. You should only explain your convictions if you are asked directly. Keep in mind, however, that if you are asked, lying will always disqualify you from the job.

4. Unprofessional Layout

A lot of online resume advice will encourage creative and unique resume layouts. While it’s good to stand out from the pack, you want to stand out because of content instead of formatting.

Adding unusual designs or photographs to your resume is only helpful if it showcases your skill at a particular job, e.g. graphic design. Unusual formatting is also notorious for blocking resumes from passing through the ever-present filters employers love to use. Stick to standard, professional resume designs.

5. No History of Career Progression 

Hiring managers will have to dig deeper to find this red flag, but it can end your chances for an interview just the same.

If you’ve had the same career for a good length of time, you’ll want to showcase progression through the ranks of that industry. If you’ve been a “junior” software developer for five years, you’ve created a red flag for yourself. In cases like this, play around with the wording of your previous job titles. It’s encouraged to mask a lack of career progression by any means necessary.


In this competitive economy, you must give yourself every possible advantage. Avoiding these five resume red flags will keep you a step ahead of your peers.

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