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Red flags in candidate CVs: What should you be looking for?

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Recruiting the perfect candidate can be a challenge. A strong CV can be a great indicator of a potential fit, but it's also crucial to be aware of red flags that might signal a mismatch.

This blog post will highlight key red flags to watch out for when reviewing candidate CVs. Remember, spotting these early can save you valuable time and resources down the line.

Missing (or incorrect) contact information

A seemingly minor detail, missing or incorrect contact information can be a significant red flag. Imagine spending time reviewing a promising CV, only to discover a typo in the email address that prevents you from reaching the candidate. This could indicate carelessness or a lack of attention to detail, qualities that might translate into their work performance.

Grammatical errors and typos

A CV riddled with typos and grammatical errors creates a negative first impression. It suggests a lack of professionalism and attention to detail, both of which are important in most workplaces. While everyone makes mistakes, a CV riddled with errors can be off-putting for employers.

Unprofessional online presence

In today's digital age, it's natural to consider a candidate's online presence. While you shouldn't hold personal social media posts against them, be wary of anything overly negative, offensive, or that contradicts the professional image they've presented in their CV.

Not tailored to the role

A generic CV that's sent out to multiple positions without any customisation is a red flag. It shows a lack of interest in the specific role and the company. Look for keywords from your job description mirrored in the CV, and specific examples of achievements relevant to the position.


Inconsistencies in dates, employment history, or even skills listed can raise red flags. Unexplained gaps or discrepancies might warrant further investigation during the interview stage. For instance, if a candidate lists a previous employer but the dates don't align with what you find online, it's worth exploring this during the interview.

Unexplained employment gaps

Employment gaps are common for various reasons. Taking time off to travel, care for family, or pursue professional development are all perfectly valid. However, large unexplained gaps can be a cause for concern.

Lack of focus

A CV that jumps around too much or lacks a clear career path can be a red flag. Look for a CV that demonstrates a focus on a particular industry or skillset relevant to your position.

Not showcasing achievements

A strong CV should be packed with achievements, not just responsibilities. Focus on quantifiable results that demonstrate the candidate's impact in previous roles. Did they increase sales or streamline a process? Quantifiable achievements speak volumes about a candidate's capabilities.

Cluttered layouts

A cluttered or poorly formatted CV can be difficult to read and navigate. This can be a sign of disorganisation or a lack of attention to detail. Look for a CV that is clear, concise, and easy to follow.

By keeping an eye out for these red flags, you can develop a sharper eye for identifying potential candidates who might not be a strong fit for your open positions.

Remember, a CV is just a starting point. Following up with a well-structured interview process allows you to delve deeper into a candidate's skills and experience, ensuring you make the best hiring decision for your company.

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