Résumé red flags are items that, in an interviewer’s mind, highlight a potential concern in a candidate’s work history. These might be gaps in employment, frequent moves, or a succession of seemingly unrelated positions. But there are ways to explain these situations that put a positive spin on them and demonstrate how you grew professionally from the experiences.
If your résumé reflects job hopping or unusual patterns such as too many lateral moves or even a move backward, be prepared to explain these things in an honest way. You might share that a job you accepted did not turn out to be the job you ended up doing, which could explain why you chose to pursue a lateral move.
For those returning to work after a gap caring for children or relatives, never apologize for your choices. It is a very common choice and does not mean you are less qualified than the next candidate. Focus on the skills you acquired while working inside the home and in unpaid capacities that are valuable in the workplace.
For new grads, a résumé red flag might be lack of experience. But as a new grad, you’re most likely seeking an entry-level position, and employers won’t expect you to have had a wealth of on-the-job experience. Demonstrate why you feel that you are a good fit for that particular company’s mission and point out things from your past that support these assertions.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, you may encounter a different red flag: appearing overqualified for the job. This can be handled by saying, “I think of myself not as overqualified, but as fully qualified.” It is important to highlight specifically what makes this job appealing to you.
Explain your résumé gaps or other red flags with stories that illustrate what you learned going through those experiences. You want to address the inconsistencies in your past, but ultimately leave the interviewer with a clear impression of your value as an employee in the present and future.
I’ve always been a stickler for positivity, have confidence in yourself and explain your decisions and choices with conviction. Employers look for that kind of charisma in a person, so being positive about your red flags offers them a one-two punch of employability.