Skip to content

5 Traits of High-Performing Candidates – And How to Spot Them

To fill just one open position in an organization, hiring managers have to read through resume after resume. And when you are reviewing a large pool of applicants, the challenge is often learning how to streamline your process and identify the standout candidates at first glance.

LinkedIn Talent Solutions recently published a guide to high-performance traits and candidate red flags to look for in a resume. We used this great list as a jumping-off point for our own recommendations, adapting it to come up with the five qualities we think are the most important and how to spot them in a candidate’s resume.

  1. Focused on Learning and Growth

Look for clues that a candidate has prioritized their professional development and has taken on more challenging and advanced positions over the years. Have they taken courses or received certifications relevant to their career? Have they been promoted within the same company – for example, starting in a junior role and moving into a management role later? Track their path to understand how they have evolved professionally.

  1. Goal-Oriented

Scan a resume for specific results the candidate was responsible for in previous jobs. What projects or initiatives did they work on or manage? How did these efforts relate to the company’s big-picture goals? For example, take note of a candidate who writes, “Streamlined our billing systems and updated our accounting software, using X and Y, resulting in a 45% decrease in accounts receivable days and increasing revenue collected by 20% in Q4.” This shows their focus on tracking data to achieve significant outcomes.

  1. Versatile

It doesn’t always make sense to hold out for the perfect candidate who checks every box on your list. It’s often wise to look for a versatile candidate with transferrable – if not identical – skills to the role you’re hiring for. If the position is a junior-level sales manager, you could train a hardworking and eager-to-learn applicant who has strong communication skills but not direct sales experience.

  1. Altruistic

A candidate’s character can be difficult to gauge from a quick scan of their resume, but keep an eye out for volunteer experience or hobbies that show who they are beyond just a job title. An applicant who volunteered as a mentor in elementary schools for five years or ran marathons to raise money for cancer research, for instance, demonstrates a commitment to give back to causes they care about. This kind of altruism is a valuable quality in a team member.

  1. Motivated

Examine a resume for signs that a candidate is a self-starter who will be willing to roll their sleeves up and help the team out with what needs to get done. No matter what role you’re hiring for, you want an employee who will be motivated, enthusiastic, and team-focused. Look for leadership roles they took on that went above and beyond their job description.

In addition to reviewing resumes for these positive indicators, you must also be alert for common red flags, such as job hopping, career plateaus, and employment gaps. But before you dismiss all candidates whose resumes contain these potential negative qualities, consider that an employment gap can actually be an opportunity rather than a red flag. York Solutions’ Barriers to Entry (B2E) program works with candidates who have been out of the workforce – specifically stay-at-home parents, veterans, and caregivers – and gives them comprehensive training to help them start a new career. B2E is beneficial for employers as well as job seekers because it provides companies to an untapped pool of highly skilled talent.

Learn more about the B2E program and how it helps companies hire the right people with the right skills.