Help Identify the Dumbest Things Recruiters Do

One of the easiest ways corporate advisors and consultants help their clients improve performance quickly is highlighting and putting an end to dumb things being done that negatively impact results. Over the years I have developed my list (some of it is shared below), but I would love to hear your thoughts on what you are seeing today that makes you scratch your head, or worse, makes your skin crawl with anger.

The Staffing Management Association of Seattle (one of the nation’s most progressive professional associations for recruiters) has selected this topic for the closing keynote session I will deliver at its seventh Annual Symposium on November 9.

I’ll incorporate your views into my presentation and share my final list with the community following the event. Helping rank my list and identify missing things shouldn’t take more than five minutes and could prove very helpful to the entire recruiting community. Look through my list of 30 dumb things and select the five that you see as the most common and most egregious.

Use the comments functionality following this post to share your answer and also let me know what things I overlooked.

My Starting Point (please select the top five)

  1. Using the same recruiting process for different level jobs — it’s a mistake for recruiters to use the same search process, search tools, and sources for every job; tailoring the process to the job is more effective.
  2. Using “active” approaches to recruit“passive” candidates — most who apply for jobs are active candidates however, many recruiters make the mistake of using the same active approaches to find the currently employed who are not looking for a job.
  3. Not taking advantage of employee referrals — referrals almost universally result in the highest quality and volume of hires, so it’s a mistake for recruiters to discount them. A related problem is spamming employees with referral requests.
  4. Not learning the business — top talent thrives in most organizations because they understand how the organization makes money (hint, it’s not selling a product). Recruiting top talent requires recruiters who can articulate the value the business creates and link specific roles being recruited for to that larger picture.
  5. Not checking if a competitor is also hiring — recruiting is a zero sum game, so it’s a mistake not to know whether your talent competitors are simultaneously hiring for the same job.
  6. Failing to identify and use the best sources — it’s a universal truth that if you don’t have top candidates in your applicant pool, you cannot hire a top person. It’s a major blunder for recruiters not to use metrics to identify the very best sources for each job family.
  7. Underusing mobile — it’s an error to underuse the most powerful unified channel communications platform both to reach and support talent engaged in the recruiting process.
  8. Trial-and-error social media use — social media is powerful but can produce mediocre results if not proactively managed and focused on the most impactful activities. A related error is spamming jobs on social media.
  9. Mistaking software as systems or solutions — software is a tool that supports or automates process, but by itself it accomplishes little. Great efforts require that tools be wrapped in well-designed processes and procedures, which combined make up a system or solution.
  10. Not quantifying the impact of great/bad hires — failing to make hiring managers aware of the financial difference of great hires and the negative cost associated with a bad hire can make hiring managers less engaged.
  11. Not prioritizing  jobs — it’s a major mistake not to differentiate jobs and to focus on those with the highest business impact.
  12. Failing to develop a business case because the organization doesn’t require one — developing a business case forces you make sure all the pieces of plan fit together, and that you haven’t overlooked components. Failing to develop a plan because the funding is easily available leads to ad hoc program development and inefficient use of resources.
  13. Not learning fast — recruiting is a fast-changing profession, so it is an error not to continuously learn and adopt new approaches.
  14. Not preparing for innovators — innovators are increasingly important, so it is a mistake not to change processes so that they effectively attract and select innovators.
  15. Overemphasizing generic competencies — lots of organizations are guilty of this error. In a fast-changing world, competencies by design maintain the status quo. In addition, most are defined so loosely that they mean little.
  16. Not identifying  job acceptance criteria — accepting a job is a major life decision, so it’s a mistake not to identify the factors and the criteria that top candidates use to decide whether to apply for and accept a job.
  17. Assuming interviews are accurate — interviews contain many possible “error points,” so it is an error to overly rely on their results without secondary assessment.
  18. Assuming resumes are accurate — almost everyone agrees that more than 50% of resumes include misstatements or major omissions, so it is a mistake to rely exclusively on the information in them. Doing so will result in some serious screening errors.
  19. Assuming that recruiting tools work — it’s a mistake to use the approaches that “everyone else is using,” good recruiters assess on their own what tools work and what tools don’t work.
  20. Expecting dull position descriptions to attract — if position descriptions don’t excite, you’ll miss many top applicants, so it is a mistake not to compare them to competitors and not to make them sales documents.
  21. Not managing the candidate experience — it’s a mistake to treat current applicants and candidates poorly because it will negatively impact the willingness of future candidates to apply. It’s also an error not to sample candidate satisfaction.
  22. Making slow hiring decisions — the very best candidates are snapped up quickly, so slow hiring can dramatically decrease a recruiter’s results.
  23. Dropping the overqualified — prematurely dropping candidates who are overqualified can cause you to lose some superior talent.
  24. Dropping  job-jumpers – prematurely screening out job-hoppers can cause you to lose some ambitious and rising stars.
  25. Dropping  rejected candidates – it’s a major mistake to discard the resumes of top candidates who were not hired, rather than shopping them to other hiring managers or revisiting them later.
  26. Not measuring the quality of hire – even if your organization doesn’t do it for you, it’s a major mistake for recruiters not to check to see if their hires perform better and stay longer them the average hire.
  27. Overemphasis on the past — it’s a major mistake for assessment to focus exclusively on past performance without also assessing how the candidate will handle current and future problems.
  28. Being a requisition coordinator — it’s an error to focus too much of your time and effort on requisition approvals and administrative matters, rather than sourcing and selling.
  29. Allowing hiring managers to hire for their needs — hiring managers can be selfish and hire for their own immediate short-term needs, so it is a mistake not to provide direction so that the resulting hires are also the best ones for the future needs of the organization.
  30. Investing or developing brand positions that fail to differentiate— it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that most of the employment brand positioning content developed to date makes all organizations seem pretty much identical with the exception of what it is the company does. Most brand positions are overly generic.

It’s Your Turn!

Tell me what you think the top five are from this list or what you think I have missed using the commenting functionality below.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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