Whether it’s your first time in the hiring seat, or your 100th, running a recruitment process can certainly have its challenges. Before you even get to the interview stage you’ll have a fair few CV’s and cover letters to read through first. What should you be looking for to help narrow down your pool of applicants? Let our handy tips guide you through:

Simple mistakes:
Good attention to detail is an important skill to have regardless of job title. Grammar and spelling mistakes in a job application are certainly something to keep an eye out for. We’re all human and can’t be perfect all the time, so we wouldn’t necessarily say this is a valid reason to discount someone completely. But consistent mistakes in an application may warrant further questioning or testing if you do want to progress them further.

When you’re bringing in a new team member, you need someone that is not only going to do the job well, but also fit with the culture of your organisation. The wrong hire can wreak havoc on a well-functioning team. It can be pretty hard to gauge whether someone’s going to be a good fit just by looking at some pieces of paper, so of course you need to meet them in person to truly get a feel for that. However, the language or tone used within a person’s application can definitely give you some clues.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to the length of time applicants have spent in their previous roles. While you can expect a contractor or temp to have shorter stints on their CV, permanent jobs that haven’t lasted very long could signal several things and not all of them good. Maybe the job wasn’t right for them, maybe they didn’t get along with the team, or perhaps something better came along. Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to find out why they were only in the job for a short time as that could say a lot about their “stickability” i.e. do they commit themselves to their work or do they lose interest quickly?

This isn’t to say that length in role automatically = good employee. Just because someone’s been in their job a long time doesn’t necessarily mean they do it well. Have a think about how long you would ideally expect a person to stay in this role – if you are looking for a long-term commitment then it may pay to be wary of those applicants that change jobs a lot!

CV gaps:
When reviewing CV’s, keep an eye out for any large gaps between jobs. There can be a million reasons for a CV gap of course, so if no explanation is given, it’s a good idea to follow up with the candidate to get further clarification on the reason for the gaps and what they were doing between roles. It’s also a good practice to cross reference the information provided in the CV with what appears on their LinkedIn profile (if they have one). Keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in what information is publicly presented, compared to what their CV contains.

Does it match what you advertised for?
A genuine candidate will take time with their application and highlight strengths and experience that match the job ad and position description. Even if their previous experience may be a little out-of-the-box, those who really do think they are a good fit should be able to demonstrate this in their CV and cover letter. Those applications that don’t seem to have any connection to what you advertised for are probably just trying their luck (and yes, there can be a lot of them)!

A cover letter:
This is the applicant’s first chance to really show you why they’re interested in your vacancy, and give a bit more personality to their accompanying CV. A generic cover letter with no mention of the role itself, or no cover letter at all may indicate the applicant is looking for any job, not necessarily this one! Some advice out there tells candidates not to bother with a cover letter, so if you are really impressed by a CV, don’t be afraid to go back to the candidate and ask them to submit a cover letter as well.

These days, computer literacy is almost a given when it comes to our workforce. When you receive an application with formatting all over the place, you may have to question their eye for detail and computer skills! While we have all experienced the nightmare of having your beautifully formatted document thrown into disarray at the drop of a hat, there is no excuse for a poorly presented job application. A CV and cover letter should be an example of the kind of quality this candidate can produce. They are supposed to be impressing you after all!

When it comes to reviewing applications, we’ve seen it all! It’s a time-consuming process but an important one. So, if you ever need help or guidance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team and find out how we can help!

Best wishes,
Kirsty and Nikki

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