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How to identify a great resume

A resume cannot show you how a potential candidate presents themselves, or if they will be a good fit for your organization, but it still remains a good summary of a job-seeker’s skill-set and past work experience. However, with so many resumes coming past your desk, it’s important to know how to fish out the best candidates. From formatting to job experience, here are a few things to look out for when you’re trying to pinpoint a great resume:

1. ​Format and flow

A clean and simply written resume is what you want to see. Longwinded and convoluted descriptions are signs of immaturity and a lack of professionalism. Even someone with an extensive career should be able to condense experiences into short, clear points. In addition to a resume being easy to read, with short descriptions, it should also give you an introductory sense of who the candidate is as a person.


​The resume will give you an overall view of a job-seeker’s experiences, but there are specific words and phrases that you should look out for as well. As resume reviewing now often starts with an online database, candidates should ensure that keywords, matching the skills identified in the job description, are easy to find and identify. This also shows that a candidate took the time to thoroughly read and understand the job they are applying for.


A general theme you want to look for in a great resume is that the candidate has made a point to continue to grow professionally. You want to get the sense that a candidate’s work experience pushes forward their career aspirations instead of just hopping from task to task. The context that someone provides for accomplishments should give you a sense that this is a strong, focused and driven candidate.

4.​Specific actions

The last thing you want to see is a resume full of vague responsibilities and skills. A great resume should have specific actions that a candidate performed, often using words like “managed,” “created,” launched,” “improved,” “achieved,” to name a few. A resume should consist of strong statements that clearly identify specific items that a candidate worked on and achieved in their previous employment. Non-specifics on a resume are signs of an inexperienced and possibly uninterested candidate.

5.Talk to a recruiter or human resources professional

Although these tips will certainly help you navigate your way around a resume, it’s never a bad idea to consult with a professional to help you sift through candidates. These specialists will be able to determine the candidates that align best with your company’s values, and the job you’re hiring for, in the most efficient manner possible. They’re experts in the field and trained to quickly pinpoint strong candidates and recognize poor resumes or, in the extreme cases, dishonest candidates.  A recruiter can help to limit the pile of resumes to a curated list of top applicants that are worth looking into.

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