We have all heard the story of the little wooden boy whose nose got longer every time he lied. Pinocchio seems to be a harmless character, right? But imagine he was not a little boy but an adult candidate for a top position in your construction company, who surpassed all rivals by describing his impressive achievements in his resume and interview. And after you hire him, it turns out he is not that person he claimed to be. 

A growing construction firm’s most significant challenges have nothing to do with the market, capital, or the viability of the product or service delivered to the consumer. We are talking about the risk of stumbling upon an unscrupulous employee in selecting personnel. 

The cost to hire a new employee can vary widely, but the 2021 SHRM Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report pegs the cost to hire an executive at an average of $14,936. That is only an average, however, as some cost-to-hire figures may exceed 200% of the candidate’s salary, especially when you factor in costs such as recruiting fees, job board fees, travel costs, relocation costs, and talent acquisition (HR) costs. That’s not even factoring in both the time and opportunity costs associated with backfilling a role.

We cannot stress how important it is for construction leaders to make sure that the individuals they are considering for employment are who they claim to be and that their qualifications are genuine and meet the job’s demands. If you want to learn what those red flags are, read on and strengthen your defenses against lying construction candidates.


Sloppy formatting

If a candidate disregards the importance of a suitable resume structure, it is easy to draw inferences about his personal and professional traits. First, this reveals that the person is careless in life, as he is unable to represent himself effectively – he usually does not care about such trivialities. This is a solid stop sign for a potential construction employer, as any working assignment, regardless of its duration or significance, demands focus and responsibility.

Second, tracking down relevant information about the candidate in a messy, haphazardly compiled resume is extremely difficult. The Ladders research found out that it takes 6 seconds on average for the recruiter to scan a resume, and the hiring manager just does not have time to comb through a disorganized resume. Besides, his job is to find a perfect match for the role rather than decoding a construction candidate’s resume.

Detecting a runner

When a selected candidate comes to an interview, successfully passes it, gets hired, and then suddenly quits within a few months of tenure – he is a “runner.” And it may happen several times with different construction companies. The question is, could the construction leader avoid it? To some extent, he could.

Pay close attention to the candidate’s past workplaces and the duration of time working there. If a person has switched jobs several times in the past six months, this is a signal he may be a runner. People in this group are usually unsatisfied with everything, they are not willing to develop and strive for the results, but they still want to gain a great deal of money, so they are driven to “run away” again.

In case you notice a frequent job change in a candidate’s resume, it is better to exclude the applicant from the list of invited for an interview.

Slangy email address

The resume serves as the candidate’s detailed business card. It must represent his best qualities, importance, reliability, attractive hard and soft skills – radiate professionalism and perspective in general. Now if you received a resume from a candidate whose listed email address is chickmagnet87@hotmail.com or sexygoddess123@gmail.com. Would you invite this person to the next stage?

A construction leader’s time to review resumes is quite limited, but you definitely should notice unprofessional email addresses. If creating a second email for a job seeking with a professional account name was too difficult for a candidate, he’s probably not as professional as his CV may claim. 

Spelling mistakes

From an employer’s view, a resume represents the candidate’s best work. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a resume should be error-free. Still, once in a while, a construction recruiter may run across a resume that has blatant typos or spelling mistakes. Although the occasional typo may be excused, there is no room for numerous errors on such a substantial document in the era of spellcheck. 

A spelling mistake may indicate a lack of attention to detail, but it’s not quite objective to cross off an excellent candidate just because of one. If a candidate gets to the interview level, it is essential to evaluate their level of diligence by asking a series of questions.

Blurred goal

Each job has its peculiarities, and a universal resume “for every occasion” is far from the best way to attract the top employers’ attention. Since the construction leader is interested in the particular skills, qualifications, and achievements of a candidate for an open position, the information on the resume must be clear and specific. This is the only way to determine if the candidate’s traits meet the vacancy’s requirements. Otherwise, he’s not an industry professional but just a “good guy…a jack of all trades.”

Considering that the candidate has targeted a certain construction role, it makes sense that his resume must reflect that focus. In other words, it clearly shows what he is capable of, why he would be valuable to the construction organization as a specialist and a team member, and how this fits into the business. And if the resume’s content is impossible to understand, the person most likely does not suit the role.

No achievements mentioned

A resume must indicate areas of responsibility and functional duties at prior employment. But a description of extensive experience loses its meaning when it does not describe any particular actions taken or results achieved. 

The candidate’s resume must describe his accomplishments, confirmed by numbers and facts. For instance, the former department head is supposed to respond to the following questions easily :

  • How was the team structured?
  • Did your subordinates meet deadlines?
  • Have you reached your financial goals?

In case the individual was the project manager, he should answer:

  • What was the project’s mission?
  • Was the project finished on time?
  • What advantages did this initiative provide to the organization?

If the construction candidate’s resume lacks any mention of accomplishments, think twice before recommending him to the next step in the interview process.

Unexplained employment gaps 

It should be clarified that gaps in employment history should not always be taken as a wake-up call. Many successful candidates take career breaks traveling, studying, and spending time with their families. In a word, the reasons can be diverse and quite reasonable.

However, inexplicable gaps in seniority can be alarming if it’s not clear what the candidate was doing at that time. The “red lights” should be flashing in the _ leader’s head immediately: “So he just did nothing for a year? Was he in jail, under arrest, breaking bad? He must be hiding something!” Before shortlisting a candidate, a professional construction recruiter must find out which circumstances explain these gaps. If they don’t, you should find a different construction recruiter who does their job.

In any event, candidates should be prudent and explain why they were unemployed for a period of time to avoid an unpleasant scenario.


Unprofessional language

Resumes with unprofessional language may detract from construction candidates’ talents and qualifications, and it is especially typical when recruiting interns or fresh grads. Surprisingly though, we’ve seen a few senior construction executives with sketchy resumes. Overly boastful job descriptions, an abundance of achievements from extracurricular activities and academic positions, irrelevant portfolio items, and avoiding skills illustrations that demonstrate the construction candidate’s competency are all common blunders. Adding multiple pages, incorporating a photo, or writing in the first person are a few more frequent resume mistakes. 

It may take more time to comb through an amateurish resume to get to the heart of a construction candidate’s credentials, but it’s worth it to make a note of their accomplishments and talents before determining whether or not to ask them to interview. While these candidates often have the necessary qualifications for the position, they may lack the experience or knowledge to write a professional resume. If a prospect strikes you despite their shady resume, invite them to an interview or phone screen to establish whether their inappropriate writing is the product of insufficient job training or a personality feature.

Who can prove it?

A solid list of references is essential. Candidates for construction roles should include references who can attest to their current work attitude, even if they didn’t add their present manager or colleagues’ contacts on their reference list. 

The CareerBuilder report informs that 75% of employers discovered knowingly false data on resumes. Thus, when a candidate’s references are irrelevant to the construction position for which they are applying or have limited experience working directly with them, that’s a massive red flag. Due to the fact that self-selected references are virtually always positive, it is crucial to analyze the significance of each contact to determine whether or not it is demonstrative. Ask your prospect about their interaction with each source to have a better understanding of their relevance.

Checking social media

Even though it’s not required, many construction companies now check out a potential employee’s social media profiles before bringing them in for an interview. Stay away from a job seeker who comes off as hostile or who publishes disparaging remarks or responses to other users. Consider whether the values of the candidate correspond with the construction organization’s culture and principles.

In contrast, your candidate’s online presence may show beautiful parts of their personality, such as the ability to think creatively, a sense of humor, and high interpersonal skills. If a construction candidate is looking for a leadership position or one that is client-facing, it is particularly beneficial to learn how they interact with people online. Their social media presence provides a clear insight into their online communication style.

Statistics indicate that all these red flags may be identified in a resume within 30 seconds. Allocate this time to reviewing resumes prior to an invitation to an interview, and you will save much more effort – both yours and the applicants.

If you would like to learn how to distinguish suspicious details, your own bias, and hidden red flags in a construction candidate’s resume, book a call with our team HERE and we’ll be happy to share what some of the most experienced construction leaders are doing right now to find their perfect fit in the shortest time possible, and with minimum risk.