5 Resume Red Flags Small Businesses Should Watch for When Hiring

 The right employees can take your small business to the next level, but choosing them isn't always easy when all you have to go on is a one-page resume. Every candidate wants to put their best foot forward and that can make it difficult to decide who to invite for an interview. 

While choosing the best candidate for the position is ultimately up to you, watching for these five red flags could help you rule out those who aren't a great fit. 

1. Unexplained employment gaps

Long, unexplained gaps in work history should get your attention. At the very least, they should cause you to make further inquiries if you're otherwise interested in the candidate. 

There could be several reasons for an unexplained employment gap. Perhaps the candidate had to leave their job so they could care for a family member who was seriously ill. Or perhaps they were fired due to poor performance and have had difficulty finding a new position. 

If you choose to interview someone with gaps in their work history, be sure to ask them about this and consider asking for a recommendation from their last employer before the gap to see if they left on good terms.

2. Frequent job changes

Frequent job changes can also be a sign of someone who hasn't gotten along too well with their former employers. Even if they quit instead of being fired, that could be a sign they might leave your small business as well if they find a better-paying opportunity

But this isn't always the case. Sometimes, job changes can be explained by a move, downsizing, or other factors that don't have anything to do with the employee's reliability. However, if they've only lasted a few weeks to a few months at every job on their list, that should give you pause.

3. Lack of progression

Typically, most people begin with entry-level jobs and gradually increase their standing as they gain more experience. Someone might start as a low-level laboratory technician, for example, but over time, they're able to work up to being a lab manager.

However, if someone has been at more or less the same level in their career for many years, that could be a sign their former employers didn't trust them with additional responsibility. It might be something worth bringing up in an interview if the candidate makes it that far.

4. Failure to follow directions

A job application is one of the first chances a candidate has to prove their value. They do this not just through the words they put on the paper but also by how well they follow the instructions they're given.

If a job listing requests a cover letter, for example, and the candidate doesn't provide one, that could be a sign they didn't read the job listing carefully. Depending on the position you're hiring for, this lack of attention to detail could make them a poor fit.

5. Poor spelling and grammar

Not every job will require candidates to do a lot of writing, but ideally, you still want to see polished resumes with good grammar. This shows that the candidate spent a lot of time on their resume and that they care about the small details.

Everyone can make mistakes, though. If you find a single typo, you might forgive it, but it depends on the position you're hiring for. It might not be a big deal if you're hiring a cashier, but if you're looking for an editor, the typo could suggest they're not very good at their job.

You're the one that has to live with your hiring choices, so it's up to you whether to rule out any candidates based on the red flags above. When in doubt, you could always invite them in for an interview and go from there. But don't ignore any concerns their resume has brought up. Address them head-on so you can decide whether the person's a good fit for your small business before you add them to the payroll.

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