CV Red Flags To Look Out For

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There are numerous ways in which a candidate can create a standout Curriculum Vitae (CV) that grabs the attention of a potential employer.


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There are numerous ways in which a candidate can create a standout Curriculum Vitae (CV) that grabs the attention of a potential employer. From good formatting and layout to detailed experience and skills, a strong CV generally stands out from the rest. But there are also CV embellishments that can make one stand out for all the wrong reasons.

It is therefore important for employers to look out for key red flags during the recruitment process. Rudi Kruger, General Manager at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, provides some tips on common CV stumbling blocks.

Regular job changes: While frequent job hopping used to be a sign of instability, the attitude around it is slowly changing and it has become a more acceptable, especially among millennials. However, it is important to look closely into the reasons for frequent job changes in any CV. “Poor and unstable economies result in retrenchments and redundancies, which means the candidate is not always at fault,’ said Kruger.

“But if the candidate has had it happen to them often, that could be a sign of incompetence.” Kruger further explained that companies retain strong employees, so if a candidate was not retained then it could mean they were underperformers. Questioning them about frequent job changes can also help recruiters find out more about the candidate’s ambitions and expectations from employers.

Career gaps: Career gaps are nothing to be alarmed about unless they are not properly explained in the CV. Strong candidates are able to and will ensure that gaps in their careers are properly explained. However, candidates with long or unexplained gaps could be a cause for concern.

Kruger explained a possible reason: “Candidates who may have had a negative experience with a previous employer may decide to omit the tenure from their CV so that they are not questioned about it. But as a recruiter, is important to know the reasons behind unexplained career gaps,” he said. “Furthermore, pay attention to start and end dates and question them if they don’t seem to add up.”

Being unspecific: Everyone knows of someone who exaggerates their experience by listing a host of impressive duties and responsibilities. However, if they seem too broad or generic, then they probably are inaccurate embellishments. “Look out for candidates who don’t qualify their claims with facts and figures. They should be able to tell you in detail about the nature of their duties and responsibilities,” Kruger said.

Attention to detail: It is not uncommon for job seekers to spam employers and recruiters with generic CVs. However, a person who is serious about your specific vacancy would take the time to customise their CV before sending it to you. “If you are looking for the right candidate, focus on those who pay attention to detail,” said Kruger.

“A customised cover letter is a positive sign that the candidate has given enough thought to the vacancy and made a conscious effort to showcase their skills and experience that are relevant to you.” He added that it is important to pay attention to grammatical and formatting errors as this can be a sign of haphazardness.

Adverse screening results: it is imperative to run verification checks on candidates’ personal details, experience, credit history and criminal checks. By using the correct tools, like LexisNexis GRC’s RefCheck Advanced, you will be in a better position prior to offering employment.

“Make informed decisions by improving transparency and disclosure through background screening. It is worth the investment as it protects your business from financial loss and expensive legal action that could be incurred through employing people with questionable integrity, credibility and skills,” said Kruger.

Background screening solution, RefCheck Advanced assists employers with verifying a wide range of personal information, including the identity of candidate, information held by credit bureaus, criminal records, driver's licenses, global academic qualifications and professional association memberships. RefCheck Advanced also provide a valuable employee due diligence and audit tool 24/7.

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South African lady creating her CV on her computer

With high unemployment rates and plenty of competition, it is essential to have a well-constructed CV in order to secure your ideal job in the South African job market. With the correct tips and advice, you can make sure that your CV stands out from the crowd and gives recruiters all the information they need to consider you for the job.


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