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Screening an Applicant: 6 Points to Look for in a CV

Author: Louis Thomas

Published date: 2021/02

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Screening applicants for an advertised role can sometimes seem overwhelming but, in my experience, there are six key things to look for in CVs to streamline the screening process.

Work Experience 
This one should seem simple but speaking from a trade’s standpoint, you want to be looking for candidates who have worked for companies that deliver similar project to yours and have similar day to day duties.
This is important from the first week on the job; the candidate should be familiar with the types of work required, reducing the need for onsite training.

Employees have been becoming more and more reluctant to travel for work in recent times and this should be factored in when screening your applications.  Just because they applied for the job does not mean they are willing to travel daily across the other side of town. It is best to find someone closer to the job site, even if it means hiring a worker who is a little less skilled. It will mean they are more likely to stick around and not jump at the first opportunity closer to home…have you seen Melbourne traffic!?

This is usually one of the first things a recruiter looks for when assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role. Surprisingly, references can tell you a lot about the candidate without even picking up the phone.

  • - No reference (References on Request) – This can mean a few things, but typically it’s due to the candidate wanting to preserve their references until they are sure the role discussed is suitable for them.

  • - A reference but from 2 or 3 companies ago - This is not typically a good sign as it means they haven’t had a good enough relationship with most recent companies and wouldn’t feel comfortable having them act as a reference

  • - Colleague references - I would always ask the candidate first if they can provide a referee that they reported to directly, as this gives an understanding of how they perform under direction. I often find these referees to be more honest, especially if they don’t have a personal relationship with the candidate.

  • - Not relevant references Family, social group and sports team members would not be able to provide you with accurate feedback on how the candidate performs during 9-5, and these references should be taken with a grain of salt.

Looking at the length of previous employment can give you an insight into your candidates' suitability for a role. If they have worked for multiple companies for short periods of time (typically under the 6 month probation), this should raise some immediate red flags.
In trades, this may be due to a lack of projects so it is always good to ask the question about why they left previous companies. If the theme to the answer involves blaming previous employers, be very cautious.
Typically if the candidate has longer tenure (2-3+ years), and had promotions within the company, then it would suggest that they are a valued employee.
If there is a large gap between employment, ask the applicant to briefly explain this; if they cannot then proceed with caution.

Values & Personality

Although most job postings list desired personality traits and values such as being reliable or a preference for team players, assessing a candidate’s personality and values from their resume can be hard to do.

We can make some guesses about a candidate’s personality from their resume if they include personal interests. However, we generally tend to use other sources of information to assess personality and values, such as their public social media profiles and how they interact when we contact them during the recruitment process.

Try using these tips next time you’re looking for the perfect candidate to simplify the process and land the best team member possible. If you feel as though your CV screening process is letting you down with finding the right candidate, get in touch with Fetch to assist you. 

Louis Thomas is a Senior Consultant in our Trades & Labour team, specialising in labour hire for Plumbing Trades. Connect with Louis on LinkedIn here.