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3 Mistakes Killing Your Recruiting

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"Welcome, please take a seat."

As much of a mess job hunting looks from the candidate side, the employer side can feel just as aggravating.  I frequently get clients who feel lost when trying to hire for their team.  Thousands of unqualified candidates applying for their jobs, candidates ghosting them or opting out of the process, offers are rejected, or candidates accept a counteroffer from their employer.  What used to be a month or two is now taking many months to find the right person.  Often, they feel like they are settling for less qualified employees than they should. 

When I first engage with a client on a search, I discuss what they have been doing to fill a role already to maybe triage why they are struggling.  It’s very common to see the same self-inflicted mistakes that make the recruiting process way more difficult than it needs to be.  While there are many reasons companies can struggle to find talent, here are the three most common that are killing your recruiting. 


  1. Throwing in the kitchen sink into the job description.  Managers try to use the job description to filter out unqualified candidates by stuffing every “must have” or “the ideal candidate has” bullet points into the job description.  It might seem counterintuitive, but the unqualified candidates will still apply, and the rock stars you are interested in won’t.  The best candidates will self-select out of the process because they only have 47 out of the 48 competencies you are asking for.  My advice is to keep the profile as open as possible – and describe the candidate you’d realistically hire, not the theoretical unicorn you hope to find.  Then do the work of screening the applicants – it's better to get more applicants than fewer, and you will increase your chances the needle will be in the haystack, no matter how big it is.

  2. You are not selling the candidates on you.  Too often managers focus on what they need the prospective employee to do for them and never get into what’s in it for them should they choose to join the company.  The best candidates have options – and everyone in the hiring process, from HR to the CEO should be selling the opportunity and culture of the company from the job description to the offer.  This is particularly critical if you are the hiring manager – the most critical component in a candidate’s decision-making calculus.  (On a related note, if you think people are only interested in compensation, we need to schedule a call).

  3. The process is too long.  Companies are increasingly running lean and afraid of making a bad hiring decision.  In response, they have added steps upon steps – from dozens of interviews, personality assessments, SWOT analyses, business case presentations, and other hoops to make candidates jump through.  I have talked to many job seekers who have been through 20 steps over months just to get rejected.  Your desire to avoid a bad hire becomes counter-productive as only the most desperate candidates will stay to the finish line.  By that point, any enthusiasm to work for you is probably gone anyway.  Any good salesman will tell you that “time kills all deals.”  This is also true for great candidates.  A long interview process increases the chances of another team scooping them up before you can make them an offer.  My recommendation is to have no less than three, no more than five steps: An initial screening interview, an interview with the hiring manager, and an in-person at the work location with any/all stakeholders.  That’s it.  Situationally, the only additional steps to add could be to meet with the CEO, board members, or investors once the finalist is chosen.  This last step should be more about selling the top candidate on the company, than trying to gun out the candidate.  These can ideally be scheduled during the on-site day.  The last optional step is to give the candidate an opportunity for a real conversation with the hiring manager.  If the manager has decided they want to make an offer, this last step would be to discuss plans, go over expectations for success, leadership styles, communication styles, work/life boundaries, and anything else that might be on their mind to make them feel good about accepting an offer.  This can build trust and enthusiasm for you and your team.


Hopefully, you and your team are not (too) guilty of these common mistakes.  Recruiting can be very difficult – because you are dealing with people and the stakes are high.  If you hire the wrong person, it will impact them just as much as you – they will struggle, and it can set back their career if they fail and you have to part ways.  Believe me, I understand the stakes. 

If hiring were easy, recruiters like me would not be needed.  If you are struggling to hire or have plans to do so, I’d like to talk to you and see if I can help.   You can schedule some time to talk HERE

Thanks for reading and may your next hire be the best of your career.

-          Ed


If this was forwarded to you, here’s a little about me:

Ed Voelsing is a former US Navy Officer, Veteran advocate, and career recruiter working to match exceptional talent to the best organizations in the US.  He is the owner of The Rivet Group, a recruiting firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. 



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