Your résumé tells potential employers a lot more about you than you think.
The way a résumé is written and the information it includes can reveal a lot about job candidates. Your résumé can answer questions employers cannot legally ask, such as those related to age and religion, as well as details about your work ethic. These details give employers a vivid look into your background.
With so many candidates applying for the same jobs, it is critical to ensure what you're saying on your résumé doesn't keep it from getting a second look. Here are seven things your résumé can reveal that could be costing you an interview:
Age: By law, U.S. employers are not allowed to ask candidates how old they are. However, that doesn't mean they can't decipher it from an applicant's résumé. Even without explicitly listing an age, a candidate's high school or college graduation dates, or length of time in the workforce, serve as good indicators. If a candidate writes on his or her résumé that he or she graduated high school in 2001 and college in 2005, chances are, they're about 30 years old. And even if someone doesn't include graduation dates, a massive employment history can still reveal his or her age. If a résumé has jobs dating back to the 1970s, it's telling the employer the candidate is at least in their 50s. While giving away your age on your résumé might not seem like a big deal, it can be if an employer has an ideal candidate in mind. If they're looking for someone young, they might not give the candidate who they think is in their 50s a chance to interview. Or, if they're looking for someone more experienced, someone who graduated in the early 2000s might not have a chance to persuade them in an interview that they would be the best fit. [Weird Job Interview Questions That May Not Be Legal]
Children: Another question employers aren't allowed to ask candidates is whether they have kids. However, there are ways your résumé can answer this question. For example, men or women who include volunteer positions, like serving on their local PTO or PTA or coaching Little League, give a clear signal that they likely have kids and are actively involved in their outside interests. While they might not say it, many employers might not be looking for someone who will be leaving early for a soccer game or meeting at their child's school. So while moms and dads might be eager to bring up what great parents they are, they should remember that giving away such information could be detrimental.
Religious or political affiliation: The volunteer section on a résumé also can give away other details you might not want to share with potential employers. Job candidates who say they volunteer at their local church or synagogue may be quickly and inadvertently giving away their religious affiliation. Political affiliation can be determined in the same way. Candidates who say they volunteer with the Manhattan Republican Party or Americans for Democratic Action are giving away information that employers may want to know but aren't legally allowed to ask. While it would be wonderful to live in a place where people weren't discriminated against for their religious or political beliefs, that's not always the reality. Knowing that someone follows a specific religion or leans a certain way politically can be all a hiring manager needs to not bring that candidate in for an interview, regardless of how great their résumé is.
Not detail-oriented: One quick way to show a potential employer that you aren't worthy of an interview is to have spelling or grammatical mistakes on your résumé. Résumés need to be perfectly written. When they aren't, it sends a clear signal that the candidate might be lazy or doesn't pay attention to details, neither of which are qualities most employers are looking for in a new staff member. While a simple typo might not seem like a big ideal, it is to the person doing the hiring. If a hiring manager only has time to interview four candidates, he or she most likely won't waste time on someone who didn't ensure their résumé was error-free.
No career progression: Job candidates should show potential employers that their career is on an upward trajectory. Having the same or similar job titles throughout a career doesn't give that signal. Hiring managers who see similar titles throughout a candidate's career often quickly infer (either accurately or inaccurately) that the person hasn't been doing what it takes to get promoted with their current employer. While that might not be a big deal for someone who hasn't been in the workforce for a long time, it will send the wrong message for candidates with years of experience. Employers are looking for candidates who show they have the skills to constantly move up.
Not committed: It costs employers thousands of dollars to recruit, interview, hire and train new employees. With so much at stake, hiring managers are looking for candidates who will be devoted to their job. While just about all applicants say they'll be 100 percent committed to their employer, their résumés can suggest otherwise. Candidates who have worked for numerous companies in a short period of time imply they aren't going to be committed to their employer when a new opportunity comes their way. Past studies have shown that having five or more job changes in 10 years can prompt worries that an employee is a job hopper. Such a red flag can be reason enough for employers to not give the candidate a second look.
Can't start right away: Employers looking for someone who can start the new job right away probably won't look highly upon candidates who list an out-of-state address on their résumé. Candidates who live far away might not be able to move to a new city, find somewhere to live and start working within the employer's ideal time frame. While a candidate's experience and references might outweigh those concerns, living out of state might be the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates.
Originally published on Business News Daily.