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How to shortlist candidates - 5 things to look for in a resume

Luigi Catanese


What can you look out for on a resume to make your selections to shortlist candidates?


Sorting through hundreds of resumes to narrow it down to 5-10 potential candidates can be overwhelming and time consuming for a recruiter - especially as many of the applicant's previous work history, skills and qualifications may be similar.


Here are 5 things to consider when deciding to shortlist candidates:


1.    Spelling, grammar and format. Naturally the importance of spelling and grammar will depend on the job role being applied for. Roles which rely heavier on written communication such as administration, marketing, or other office based roles may be more selective and critical of poor spelling. For more hands on roles such as construction, you may be able to forgive with the odd typo. Regardless, there isn’t really an excuse for poor spelling with the ability to run a spell check or have someone read over the resume to check for any errors before sending.

The resume should be easy to read and scan over quickly, with the important skills and experienced being positioned first, this shows the applicant has considered the role they are applying for when formatting their resume.


2.   Cover letters. Has the applicant tailored the cover letter specific to the job they’re applying for, or is the cover letter generic and probably the same one that has been sent in application to multiple roles. If the cover letter shows that they have read the job application thoroughly, researched the company and addressed the selection criteria with their relevant skills and experience - it shows that they have invested time and want to stand out from the crowd.


3.    Qualifications and experience. Does the applicant have the minimum qualifications or skills required for the job? You will likely get applications ranging from entry level - extremely skilled. It is important to not rule out those with limited experience, as long as they meet the minimum requirements. Many people apply for jobs as they want to develop their skills and further their career and if you only choose those that are extremely skilled or even overqualified, you risk missing out on a potentially eager and loyal employee.


4.    Gaps in work history (and more importantly, reasons for the gaps). Are there any unexplained gaps in their work history? The focus here is on unexplained. In this day and age, people take breaks to travel or spend time with their family - and who can really blame them? There used to be a perception that breaks in employment history were frowned upon but now they are more accepted, understood, and respected! They also make for great interview conversation!


5.     Personality. Although this can be hard to gage from a resume, you may be able to get an insight from a cover letter or any of the applicants public Social Media profiles. It is important that employees fit in with the work culture of a company so trying to gage personality at the selection stage has become more important in recent years.


These are just some of the considerations which may help when shortlisting suitable candidates, when all the resumes start to blend into one. This doesn’t mean to say that if an applicant doesn’t adhere to all of the above that they’re not a suitable candidate, but if they don’t they’re resume could be easily overlooked.

If you are looking for skilled candidates in the construction industry visit