7 Recruitment Mistakes to Avoid 

Avoiding these 7 major recruitment mistakes can help refine your process so you capture the best talent your company can afford in your area.

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7 Recruitment Mistakes to Avoid

Here's what you need to know:

  • Recruitment mistakes cost time and talent, so it’s important to avoid them
  • Recruiting mistakes to avoid include having an outdated job description and ignoring your company’s brand and reputation
  • Not looking within your company for internal candidates and over-screening applicants are other mistakes
  • Other mistakes include slow time-to-hire and not staying in touch with potential new hires
  • At the same time, don’t be in such a rush to hire that you end up with bad hires

When talent is abundant, recruitment mistakes are easily made and have little impact on your ability to hire. When talent is scarce, even the smallest error in process or judgment can be a problem.

Recruitment mistakes cost time and talent. Open positions are a burden on the company — they leave your organization in a position of letting work go by the wayside, or put more pressure on existing staff to get it done.

The longer a vacancy remains open, the harder it is to fill. When talent sees the same position open for a long period of time, they may wonder if you’re too picky when it comes to hiring. Or they’ll wonder if the position has been filled over and over again, leaving them concerned yours isn’t the kind of company they want join.

Recruitment is a talent you can hone. You can build your skill set to hire quickly without sacrificing quality. Avoiding major recruitment mistakes can help refine your process so you capture the best talent your company can afford in your area.

What are the 7 recruiting mistakes your company should avoid?

1. Starting with an outdated job description

A job description that isn’t current and doesn’t reflect the true nature and duties of the work will start you on the wrong foot every time. Posting the position, screening for the right fit, and discussing with candidates are all reliant on knowing exactly what skills and qualifications are needed.

Taking the time to make sure the job description is current and accurate makes it easier to target the right skills and make the right hire.

A 2022 survey from The Muse found 72% of new hires were surprised that, after starting a position, it was very different than they were led to believe. This might explain why Jobvite found 30% of new hires quit in the first 90 days: almost half say the role wasn’t what they expected.

Starting with a bad job description is the beginning of this process. You can’t assess talent accurately or discuss the role clearly. A bad job description sets the stage for candidate regret and resignation.

2. Ignoring your brand and recruitment reputation

Your reputation in the community means customers: your recruitment reputation means applicants. Glassdoor found 86% of job seekers will review a company’s online presence and reputation before they apply. A good employer brand can reduce the cost to hire by half: a bad reputation can cost 10% more per hire.

Protecting your company reputation requires more than making sure your website is current and welcoming. Make sure there are no negative reviews of your company overall or being employed there in particular.

If you do see undesirable comments, respond professionally. Ask the poster to contact you directly to resolve the issue if they’re unknown.

If the poster is a former employee, contact them to fix the problem and ask them to remove the post. Your brand is your livelihood: make sure to protect it.

3. Not looking within your company for internal candidates

Before you look externally, are there any internal candidates for the position? You might consider the benefits of promotion (or transfer) over the cost and effort of recruitment a great trade.

A best practice is to announce vacancies to staff members before you go outside to hire. Some companies give existing staff a few weeks or a month to apply with preferential treatment. In other organizations, the opportunity remains until a hire is made.

Promoting from within is smart. It messages to employees there is room to grow within your organization.

A best practice is to announce vacancies to staff members before you go outside to hire.

Upward mobility is key to attracting and retaining talent. Additionally, when you promote from within the candidate is more productive, more quickly. They know the ins and outs of the company, they just need the nuts and bolts of the position. They’re acclimated to the company’s culture and have a network they can leverage for help.

Internal candidates should always be a 1st choice. Worst case scenario — if it doesn’t work out, they can return to their old position. Best case — they work well and you can hire for their less senior (hopefully easier to fill) position.

4. Over-screening applicants

The days of over-screening candidates are long gone. The applicants you wouldn’t consider in the past, because they were over-qualified or under-qualified, may now be the only resumes you see.

Market conditions shift how we hire. If you’re still demanding the same skills and qualifications you required 5 years ago, your recruitment efforts are bound to fail.

The qualified worker of today may have less than the amount of experience you want. They may have none of the experience you want, but have something similar you can work with.

The newest role of recruiter is ‘outside the box thinker.’ You’re looking for applicants with talent — not exact experience. That customer care representative job seeker may have never sold insurance, but if they have a client service attitude, you can train.

The more applicants you screen out, the fewer options you have. The more you think outside the application check box, the more opportunities for you, and job seekers.

5. Dragging your feet and having a slow time-to-hire

Time-to-hire is a metric that cannot be ignored. Too long to respond to an application or resume may mean you’ve lost to the competition before you even set an meeting.

A lengthy interview process, with multiple hoops to jump through before the ‘committee’ discusses options, frequently means candidate drop-off.

Time-to-hire is not the same as time-to-recruit. It may take longer to start receiving resumes and applications, but once they begin (even if it’s only 1), the time-to-hire clock starts. If time-to-hire is causing candidate loss, review your process and find places you can speed up.

Contacting applicants more quickly may be a key first step. Consider mobile optimization for your recruitment. Letting job seekers apply via their smartphone and then texting them to set up an interview is faster than email or voice messaging.

Ninety percent of text messages are opened within 3 minutes, according to LinkedIn. That can speed up time-to-hire. If you can, add self-scheduling to your process for an even faster response time. The faster you interview, the faster you hire.

6. Not staying in touch with potential new hires

Another recruitment mistake that’s too common is not keeping the lines of communication open during the hire. Checking in with potential new hires throughout the process is key to keeping them engaged with your company and their prospective new role.

Set a communication plan at the first interview for everyone you’re interested in hiring. Then stick with it. If you tell them you’re going to be in touch within a week, mark your calendar to do so and follow through.

Some hires can be done on the spot. Others take longer. For these, regular check-ins let them know where you are in the decision process, what next steps will be, and when they can expect a decision.

Applicants are happy to wait for the answer, as long as there’s been an open line of communication during the process. You’ll also win points by letting them see you’re willing to show your methods and practices.

What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve

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7. Rushing to hire — a bad hire is worse than no hire

The opposite side of the coin can be another recruitment mistake, and that’s rushing to hire. A bad hire is a costly error. Not only have you wasted time and resources finding the candidate, you’ve wasted even more training them.

The good applicants you lost out on, by making a bad hire, add insult to injury. Nobody intends to make a bad hire, but rushing can leave you open to mistakes and omissions that you should have caught.

Don’t pass on reference checks in your rush to get people in seats: a quick phone call could easily verify the person isn’t who they claim to be.

Don’t ignore your instincts, either. If the applicant seems too perfect for the job, they may tailoring their responses to your questions, rather than answering honestly.

Finally, don’t settle. There’s enormous pressure on recruiters to hire — you likely get multiple phone calls per day with complaints and concerns. Remind your managers that a bad hire is worse than no hire at all.

Recruiters know they have to adapt with the times. Avoiding these recruitment mistakes can mean great, long-term hires no matter what the market throws your way.

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