Job applicants? Watch for these 6 red flags

These warning signs indicate a potential problem with job candidates.

Hopefully, you are inundated with loads of applicants for your open position.  But how do you narrow down the application pool and pull out the “cream of the crop?”  What can make an applicant stand out for the wrong reasons?  Following are some red flags you may want to consider when looking at applications:

1. Missing dates. - Did the applicant forgo dates in their employment history? Do you see several instances where there is a gap in employment without any explanation?

2. Application materials don’t seem to fit. - Candidates are counseled to tailor their resume and cover letter to each job they are applying for. There are big red flags if the applicant doesn’t address their materials to the correct person, their job history doesn’t seem to fit with your current opening, or they could even mention the wrong company in their resume or cover letter. These red flags may mean the candidate’s interest in your company is low and they were just sending out masses of applications to see if one would stick. 

3. Neglecting to include necessary information. - Did your job posting ask for salary requirements, or request the applicant attach a copy of applicable licenses or certifications? If a job seeker misses important information that you specified in the job posting, it is probably best to throw them in the “no” pile.

4. Required qualifications not met. - If you’ve detailed REQUIRED qualifications on your job description, such as a CDL or five years of on-farm experience, stick to it. Filter out any applicants that do not meet your specified requirements. If requirements are not a must, they should be listed on the job posting as desired qualifications instead. 

5. Spelling and grammatical errors. - Even if you don’t need an English major, you want employees with attention to detail.  Applicants should take the time to proofread their application materials, so spelling and grammar mistakes can be a red flag that this may not be a job seeker’s strong point.

6. Reference discrepancy. - If you are at the point where you are checking references and things don’t seem to add up - perhaps dates are a bit off, job duties aren’t as described in the resume, references aren’t calling you back, etc.,- you may want to think twice before offering the applicant a job. On a side note: Unless you specifically ask for it, most applicants will not include references, nor will they use the statement “References available upon request” at the end of their resume. If you want references during the initial application process, you must state this on the job posting. 

Of course, you need to take into account your pool of applicants, talent availability in your area/field, and the urgency in filling the position when you evaluate the severity of these application red flags.

To post your job opening, or for more information, contact [email protected].


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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