7 Avoidable Recruiting Mistakes

A baking mishap reminded me of a common mistake in recruiting. The baker, my cousin, decided to take some liberties with a bread recipe. Instead of measuring the ingredients, she eyeballed it, adding generous portions of her favorites. Then she decided to knead the dough for half the amount of time called for in the recipe.

The result — a chewy gritty lump that tasted nothing like bread.

Baking is a science. Follow the recipe and you’ll get a positive result. The same is true in recruiting. There’s a science to getting a good result. Skip a step or fail to follow a proven process and you end up with lackluster candidates and unfilled jobs.

Yes, there’s an art to being good at recruiting, especially when it comes to the day-to-day aspects of the job, but that never outweighs the importance of the strategic ingredients required for success.

Here are seven frequent recruiting mistakes, and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Drawing in too little or too much talent

This first mistake is the most common. Many companies aren’t drawing in enough quality candidates, blaming the skills shortage as the problem. Some organizations draw in too many people who are underqualified, typically as a result of an unhealthy reliance on automation. Both of these extremes make recruiting labor intensive and filling open jobs a challenge.

Generating a continuous supply of top talent requires using all eight talent streams. Organizations that maximize all eight recruit faster, fill positions more efficiently, and effortlessly create pipelines of top talent for future openings.

Mistake #2: Having unrealistic hiring criteria

It’s common to throw everything but the kitchen sink into your hiring criteria. Making a quality hire is vital and starts with deciding who you’ll select. Unfortunately, the extreme importance of hiring right the first time has led leaders to be overly restrictive about who they’ll consider for a job. This limits the talent pool and keeps positions open for a long time.

There’s a simple way to create accurate hiring criteria — seek proof. Review all of the people who’ve succeeded in the role. Look for the patterns among their skills, experiences, and personality traits. Make those your hiring criteria and leave the kitchen sink where it belongs.

Mistake #3: Getting overly attached to one candidate

Falling in love isn’t just the plot line in romantic movies; it’s why the recruiting process in many companies becomes a drama. It often plays out like this … a superb candidate is found for the job, someone you fall in love with. “She’s the one,” you say. As a result, the recruiting effort comes to a screeching halt. When it turns out she isn’t the one, a mad dash ensues as you scramble to find more candidates.

Instead of falling in love with people, it’s better to become enamored with a process that keeps talent flowing. Some organizations refer to that as practicing their ABC s, as in Always Be Cultivating talented people even after you think you’ve found “the one.”

Mistake #4: Becoming too reliant upon one resource

Most recruiters have a preferred stream of talent. For many, it’s referrals. They see referrals as the gold standard of recruiting, believing that this is the best way to find high-quality people.

While it’s true that referrals are gold, it’s just one of the eight streams of talent. Some of the streams provide overlapping access to the same candidates. However, no single stream can draw in all of the available quality people. That’s why it’s important to keep tapping into all eight.

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Mistake #5: Waiting until a job opens to recruit

It’s not if there’s going to be a job opening, but when. That’s why the most successful organizations plan for the when.

How are these companies planning for the inevitable? They’re shifting from the old way of hiring (keeping a job open until the right person shows up) into the new way of hiring (lining up talented people and waiting for the right job to open). They start with one core role, filling currently open positions and cultivating talent for when that job opens again. Then they move on to the next role. And then the next. And then the next.

Mistake #6: Creating ads and posts that are boring

The majority of job listings read like typical ad copy. That’s why these posts fail to hold the interest of top talent. The mundane content creates a negative first impression, repelling quality candidates.

What kind of content captures and keeps attention? Details about how working in your organization has improved lives and careers is a great place to start. Combine that with eye-catching delivery methods, such as video, gifs, or infographics, and you’ll attract and keep the interest of top talent.

Mistake #7: Engaging in hiring insanity

Einstein has been quoted as saying that insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. By that definition, there’s quite a bit of insanity going on in recruiting. For instance, ask someone why they persist at an approach that isn’t drawing in enough quality talent, and you’re likely to hear, “because that’s how we’ve always done it.”

You can stop the insanity by regularly questioning each step of the recruiting process. Consider why it’s done that way. What results are being achieved? How can you could improve that result? In what ways you could streamline each step of the process?

My cousin threw out that gritty lump of so-called bread. The next batch was superb because she followed the recipe, avoiding her past mistakes. You can do the same when you’re recruiting. Eliminating these seven preventable errors will allow you to source top people who will become superb new hires.

As president of the Wintrip Consulting Group, Scott Wintrip has helped thousands of companies improve their ability to hire talent on demand. He helped these organizations to grow faster, increase revenues, improve profitability, and expand market share. In the process of advising, educating, and coaching his clients, he has created more than $1.3 billion in positive economic impact for them. An astute strategist, he is respected for his strong leadership and practical advice. He is also the author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant (McGraw-Hill, April 2017). You can learn more about him and his services at WintripConsultingGroup.com.

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