An outstanding resume will do two things:
Strong candidates get rejected all the time, usually for reasons they're not even aware of. (Here are a number of reasons why you may be getting rejected.)
But this post isn't so much about getting rejected outright - it's more about potential red flags to watch for and minimize. These 4 points may not be enough individually to get your resume tossed, but they are things that may cause some concern for recruiters.
1. Unrealistic career path
One of the biggest problems I see on resumes is when people only list the last position they held with a company, even though they didn't hold it the entire time they were employed there. One of the problems with that approach, besides the fact that it could be viewed as an outright lie, is that it might make your career path look unrealistic.
Say, for example, your resume shows you as a district manager with your current employer, and you've been there for 8 years, and your previous position is assistant store manager for a different company. Don't you think it will look odd that you jumped from assistant store manager with one company to district manager with the next? (It HAS happened, I've seen it, but it's extremely rare obviously.)
If it's true that you made that leap, make it clear that you were brought into the company at the DM level, so recruiters don't assume otherwise. Why? Because they WILL assume otherwise - it just doesn't happen that way very often.
What they will assume (and what is most likely true because so many people do it that way) is that you worked your way up to DM with your current company. Perhaps you started as an assistant store manager, or maybe a store manager, and at some point within the last 8 years you were promoted to district manager - maybe 7 years ago, maybe 3 weeks ago. Who knows? That's what they'll assume because they've interviewed so many people who list their employment history that way.
So make sure your career path makes sense to the reader and seems realistic. If it's not, explain why so they don't make assumptions that don't work in your favor.
2. No mention of sales or profit performance
We all know achievements are important on resumes, right? But not just any achievements - they should be prioritized based on what's most important (and the most important achievements should, of course, be there).
The #1 objective of virtually every retail manager, in the end, is to increase sales and profit. That's why most retailers are for-profit companies, with the exception of Goodwill, etc. - they want to make more money. That's why we hire, why we train, why we coach, why we build client books, why we minimize shrink, etc. The end goal is always to drive sales and profit.
So I'm always a bit surprised when I see a resume from someone who has been a store manager with the same company for 6 years and the #1 accomplishment they have listed is some spreadsheet that they created. Designing a new spreadsheet is a decent achievement, but it's not really an exciting one (although it'd be more exciting if it was adopted company-wide). At best, it's maybe a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1-10. It's a bit of a yawner.
The first achievement, ideally, or at least one of the top achievements, should be something about how successful you were at meeting your sales or profit goals (and there are many, many ways of presenting that, even if you haven't hit your targets).
If you do include achievements like that but they're buried further down, the recruiter may assume you don't understand the importance of it. If you don't include any achievements at all about sales or profit, the recruiter will assume you didn't perform very well.
Try your best to not let them make that assumption.
3. Lack of specifics
The more specific you are, the better.
We've all seen resumes that are full of vague words such as several, extensive, multi-million, many, numerous, etc. that mean different things to different people. "Several" could be 4 or 50. "Multi-million" could be $2M or $80M. You get the picture.
It's okay to have some of those on your resume if needed, but if your resume is full of them and, overall, it's lacking specific numbers, the reader may be concerned. The reason resumes have so many numbers these days is because they're objective. They're concrete. $5M is $5M to me and it's $5M to you. 10 is the same for everyone - it's not 8, and it's not 3. It's 10.
And so on.
Numbers give the recruiter tangible data to assess your experience and compare it to the opportunities they may have available. So if your resume doesn't include any specific numbers, it will make their job much more difficult, and in all likelihood, they'll simply move on.
Just to note, I'm not suggesting you divulge private and confidential information. If you feel that something is too confidential for your resume, by all means leave it off. But I still encourage you to be as specific as you can, whenever possible. It will help develop trust with the reader.
4. No geographic location
If you don't list, at a minimum, your city, state/province, and zip/postal code, it's possible that your resume won't even make it into the employer's database. You don't need to show a full street address if you're concerned about privacy, but I've been told that some recruiters can't add candidates who don't provide that minimal information (although not everyone will be the same).
But regardless of whether your resume can be added properly without it, leaving off your city and state/province makes it look like you're trying to hide something. Let's face it, employers want to know where you live, regardless of whether you want to tell them, so make it easy and include it. If you're between residences, about to move, or looking for work in a different city, explain that in your cover letter, but make sure to include your current city, state/province, and zip/postal code on your actual resume or the reader will wonder why.
Of course there could be many more "red flags" on your resume - this is simply an outline of some common ones. If you're a retail leader in the United States or Canada (ie. a district/regional manager, store manager, assistant store manager, or department manager), feel free to send me your resume and ask for a free assessment. I'll look it over and let you know what I think.
All the best!