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Hi there,

A few weeks ago, Marcelo asked for the best interview questions, and it got a lot of input.

Today, I wanted to talk about signals (the good ones and red flags) when screening resumes. Good signals are those that make you want to fast track someone. The red flags being the ones that tell you to pass.

Here are a few of the red flags I’ve observed (in no particular order). 

Of course, there are exceptions to these, but when reviewing hundreds or thousands of resumes, you need to rely on some heuristics that make reviewing simpler.

  • No upward career progression at a single firm 
  • Too many lateral moves across companies (relates to bullet 1)
  • Job-hopping 
  • Multiple concurrent roles (1 main job and lots of side hustles)
  • Lists Microsoft Office Suite as a skill 
  • Cr^ppy formatting
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Inflated claims of accomplishment not commensurate with role/title/team size
  • Lots of discussion of mentoring startups 
  • Solo consulting company dressed up as something bigger
  • Use of phrases/terms such as “visionary,” “keynote speaker,” or “thought leader” 

TBH, job-hopping is probably my clearest red flag based on the data we have at CBI.  

I know folks believe this is a sign of the times or that people’s careers now progress in dog years or whatever, but as far as I can tell, that is all nonsense.  

Mastery of a craft takes time, and having lots of 1-year or 18-month gigs doesn’t suggest mastery or the ability to stick with challenges long enough to see them through.

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Good resume signals

There are, of course, some positive signals that suggest someone should be fast-tracked. A lot of them are naturally the opposite of the above red flags.

  • Clear progression (promotions) and bigger responsibilities within a single org
  • Credible and impressive achievements (quantified is great for certain roles) commensurate with role, title, etc.
  • High achievement across multiple functions ("decathlete")
  • Clarity of layout & concise

What do you think? Any other red flags or fast track signals you’ve found when reviewing resumes?

I love you.


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