Hiring managers are always trying to recruit the best and brightest talent. And pretty often, it seems like they’ve tasked you with finding a needle in the haystack. Sure, you may be famous for being an efficient resume scanner — it takes most recruiters no more than 6 seconds to decide if the candidate is worth calling in for an interview. But it all boils down to how you spend those 6 seconds.

As the first step in the hiring process, resume screening is extremely critical and can save you a lot of potential headaches, frustrations, and time down the road. So how do you know when you spot a good resume? Of course, there are those typical red-flags — typos, sloppy grammar mistakes or hard-to-read fonts — that help you weed out the good apples from the bad ones. But there are more important areas (specific to each industry) to pay attention to, plus each job is different, so there’s no one way to answer this question.

Now we all know that some great candidates may have terrible resumes. Those candidates are hard to determine based on paper. Still, there are certain common traits shared by most resumes that stand out from the crowd. Here are some of them.

  1. They reflect a match made in heaven. OK, that may be a bit of a stretch but how well a resume matches the purpose, intent, and goal of the company is really the first and one of the most important filters.A resume can be viewed as a marketing tool that’s used to showcase the most important aspects of a candidate’s overall experience. And by important, I mean how vital or relevant their experience and skills are for your company. If a candidate ticks off most boxes, his/her resume should clearly give you good vibes.In other words, you know you’ve hit upon the right resume when it makes you think— “yes, she would be a great match for this role!” Unless you experience this aha-moment, it’s safer to press the “next” button.
  2. They are concise yet have all the relevant info. A great resume is to-the-point but also has enough substance to help you make a decision. Such resumes usually contain bullet points with only the most pertinent details and selective words that make an instant impact.
    As a result, it’s not only easy for you to glance through the entire resume without tiring your eyes and your patience but it also serves to show that the candidate is articulate and downright smart — qualities that make a candidate that much more “hireable.”On the contrary, a resume that’s written in paragraphs or takes ten pages to explain something is an immediate thumbs down.
  3. They show a consistent progression in career. Is there a career progression? Does the candidate have increasing levels of scope and responsibility? —an ideal resume answers these questions.
    Unless you’re looking for new graduates or interns, it’s critical for a person’s resume to show progression in their career, whether it’s increased job titles, more responsibilities or varying levels of team management experience, etc.
  4. They show the exact employment dates. If you’re like me, one of your major pet peeves would be fuzzy employment dates on a resume. To be honest, resumes containing employment dates that don’t add up make me wonder if a candidate is trying to cover up something or holding back the truth that they think may raise an eyebrow.Also, when it comes to a person’s tenure with each company, look for 2+ years per job OR 3-5 years within a company—which also depends on the field/industry. But these are good yardsticks for evaluation. We’ve all had a “bogey” or made a short-term mistake in our career where we leave a company after a year. However, seeing a short-term stay pattern is usually a quick warning sign.Career gaps may be OK, so are job moves, but do they make sense? Good resumes are honest and sufficiently explain those less-than-impressive career choices instead of letting our imaginations run wild!
  5. They demonstrate results. A resume that shows how the candidate has added value to his/her employers in their career span using quantifiable figures ($, %, #) almost instantly gets some extra attention. This is, in fact, the most important thing I look for. Some of the best resumes I’ve seen so far had demonstrated how the candidates helped their previous employers meet their objectives—to grow, to increase sales, to retain customers, and so on—in a crisp and concise manner. What’s not to like!On the contrary, a resume without any quantifiable result is a hollow thing — the candidate could be the same or even worse than thousands of others waiting in the line. To be sure that they are hiring the right person, employers want to see the results they can bring to their organization. And, a result-oriented resume is the best way of knowing.

There you have it — five easily-discernible signs you can spot in a good resume to determine what good looks like (on paper). Hope this’ll help you zero in on the right resumes sooner and more effectively.