Wood Words

Omissions, Errors and Outright LIES: 4 Resume Red Flags that Scream “Don’t Hire Me!”

Unemployment may be low, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be inundated with resumes when you post a job opening.

It just means that you need to be a better detective to identify the best candidates for the position. How can you start whittling down your list? Thankfully, some applicants make it easy for you to take a pass on them, by committing resume mistakes that scream “DON’T HIRE ME!”

Here are six of the biggest resume red flags that should tip off your radar:

Ambiguous language.

Ever see resumes containing phrases like “participated in,” “involved with,” “developed relationships,” and “familiar with”? Phrases like this could mean almost anything – which is exactly why sub-par candidates rely on them. Vague wording is often used to disguise a lack of experience or knowledge in a particular area. A qualified candidate will use clear, action-oriented language, correctly employ industry terminology and provide examples of measurable results they’ve achieved.

Lack of dates.

Functional resumes make sense for some job seekers – especially those who want to focus on their skills or effectively present a diverse work history. So, you shouldn’t automatically discount every applicant who uses this resume format. As a general rule, however, applicants who don’t include employment dates (or only list years) may be trying to cover up lengthy employment gaps. Although a gap, in and of itself, is not an automatic disqualifier, trying to pull the wool over an employer’s eyes is.


Over the years, Wood Personnel recruiters have read some very – ahem – revealing resumes ( which include candidates’ age, height, weight, marital status, number of siblings…the list is long…). Sometimes, candidates don’t understand the rules of engagement when it comes to sharing personal information. They over-share or include irrelevant details about their personal lives that have nothing to do with their candidacy.

If an applicant devotes too much space to personal interests, hobbies and special activities, it may be because they’re looking to fill out a sparse work history. Tread carefully and scrutinize their actual job qualifications.


We’re all human. We all make mistakes. But a resume that’s rife with typos, sloppily formatted or confusing to read is real cause for concern. With so many online resources dedicated to creating an amazing resume, there’s just no excuse for one that’s a hot mess. If a candidate is willing to send you a sloppy resume, what does that say about the quality of work they’ll do for you if hired?

Leave the detective work to us.

Need help screening resumes? Want to offload time-consuming recruiting activities altogether – and receive only exceptionally qualified, thoroughly vetted candidates? Give our Nashville recruiters, or your local Wood Personnel office, a call today.