Most employers don't like to take hiring risks, especially in today's litigious society where employment laws are loosely interpreted.
Any one of the following red flags on a resume spells "risk" for an employer and could cause him or her to toss a resume:
The solutions to these problems vary, depending on the situation. Here are some suggestions for resolving your red flag.
All employment gaps must be filled so as not to make the prospective employer wonder if you had or have a serious problem such as substance abuse, incarceration, chronic illness, or just plain laziness.
In the Work History section of your resume, explain any employment gaps by inserting a "job title" (full-time parent, volunteer, student, independent study, travel abroad) that is relevant to your job objective, or at least says something positive about your character.
For example, aspiring receptionist Sophia Ricardo was unemployed for 15 years while she raised a family. In her Work History section, she listed the relevant volunteer positions she held during that time.
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Here's a great way to understand how the dates on your resume create an impression of your age. It's called the EPT formula (Experience Plus Twenty):
A well-crafted resume uses dates to lead the employer to deduce that you are within the ideal age range for the position you are seeking, regardless of your actual age.
For example, Lillian Smith is older than the "ideal" candidate the employer is hoping to hire for an administrative assistant position. Knowing that, she did not put dates next to her degrees under Education and she went back only 15 years in her Work History, indicating that she is at least 35 years old, an age she believes the employer will deem appropriate.
Read more tips and sample resumes:
On average, workers change jobs once every two to three years. In many industries, employers find this rate of job change acceptable. Less than two years between jobs raises the question, "If I hire this person, how quickly will he leave me for his next opportunity?"
If you have short terms of employment in your history, here are some ways to put a prospective employer's mind at ease. One or more of these suggestions might work for you:
This technique works in both the chronological and functional formats.
Information Analyst, ABC Temp Agency, 2001-2003
Information Analyst Contractor, 2001-2003
Selected clients: DEF Corp., GHI Inc., and JKL Co.
If you're worried that something on your resume might make you look overqualified for your job objective, consider placing that information in an inconspicuous place on your resume, or leave it off completely.
For instance, if you're applying for an entry-level job as a pastry chef, you might not put your Ph.D. in Chemistry on your resume for fear that the employer would assume you want too much salary or would become bored in an entry-level position.