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Well, you be aware that Leonardo DiCaprio hasn’t ever had a girlfriend over the age of 30 – so, the Oscar-winning actor clearly seems to have a specific criteria when searching for his significant other.

Let’s be clear, recruitment and employment are regulated by discrimination laws that don’t apply to Mr DiCaprio’s love life. But…

It does pose an interesting thought process on how to approach the ‘shortlisting’ stage of your own recruitment process.

What do we exactly mean by shortlisting?

If you post an advert, and it receives twenty applications, you may only choose to continue the process with one of those applicants based on your shortlisting requirements (such as past experience, location, likely ambitions of the candidate, does the candidate drive, etc).

Why would you shortlist applications?

To not waste time, obviously! (Let’s be honest)…

If you had twenty applications for a General Manager vacancy; but all twenty applications were straight out of school without any work experience, interviewing all the applicants isn’t likely to result in finding the right person for the role.

What are the challenges with shortlisting?

  • Firstly… You are often at the mercy of the quality & quantity of applications. Whatever hopes and expectations you had with regards to the ‘ideal candidate’, may venture worryingly towards the window when you look through applications and you need to make a swift hire.
  • Secondly… What you really want and need to know about a candidate to understand if they are truly suitable for the role, isn’t always clear just by looking at a CV. So you may be discounting people who could actually be a great match!
  • Lastly… Even though you may be inundated with applications, when interviewing your shortlisted candidates get underway you learn that no one is really cutting the mustard.

How can you overcome the challenges related to the shortlisting stage of recruitment?

Apart from using a magic wand to bring more suitable applications and cloning yourself to have twice the amount of time, there are options.

1 • Generate interest – Shortlisting is much easier when you have choices

Job Boards are like Tinder… you can often participate for free, but you will be much more visible with a sponsorship boost and a great advert. With better visibility, will come more matches applications.

But don’t waste loads of money sponsoring the Tinder Swindler (or a terrible advert).

Make sure your adverts are relevant and appealing. Don’t fill them with a list of demands. Keep them light and leave the potential applicant thinking “sounds good, I’d be keen to discuss this role further”


Try to invite relevant people to apply, some job boards allow you to look through suggested matches.

You can also pay for access to the CV Databases. Although a bit pricey, proactively searching for your perfect candidate will often pay dividends.

2 • Choose your moments to be picky

Although this will be impacted by the success of tip number one, there are a few pointers to consider.

  • Try to avoid making too many assumptions. Unless you are inundated with absolutely perfect applications, the original shortlisting should start with candidates at least ‘in and around’ what you are looking for.
  • Give your long shortlist a five-minute call to get some more context and information, it might turn a maybe into a seriously-strong option.
  • Are you offering more money, a better work-life balance, an easier commute, and a clearly better environment to work in than all of your competitors?
  • If not, think about what flexibilities in candidate criteria you can consider, given they will be making flexibilities to consider you.
  • Keep your options open. Even if you think you have the perfect applicant, don’t delay arranging interviews with a close 2nd or 3rd favourite.
  • Until there’s ‘a ring on it’, they could end up taking a job elsewhere.

3 • Clone yourself to create more time to do shortlisting effectively

The science on this is a little sketchy at the moment. So, my advice is…

  • Post adverts when you know you will have time to address applications every couple of days.
  • Call the shortlist! This will save you and the candidate time. You can both iron out early details before arranging a full interview.
  • Or… Outsource all your advertising and shortlisting CV Locator, Leo’s favourite recruitment partner!*
  • (*Disclaimer: One of our clients is called Leo. I can’t be sure if that is the Leonardo DiCaprio)

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