The Dumbest Things Recruiters Do

I spend a good deal of my time researching the elements of world-class recruiting. As an offshoot of that work, I find a good number of common errors that many recruiters make. Eliminating all these errors won’t make you a world-class recruiter…but it will help you get closer! Question: What do you call a recruiter who fails to learn rapidly from the mistakes of others? Answer: A waiter/waitress.The Most Common Recruiting Errors So here are the most common recruiting errors, in descending order of impact. If you’re guilty of any of these transgressions, then start making some changes!

  1. Not finding out a candidate’s decision criteria. Selling candidates on a job differs little from selling customers on a house. If you don’t ask them directly (or indirectly) what criteria they are using to make their decision, then you are bound to fail.
  2. Not measuring the performance of your hires. Buying a lotto ticket and not checking to see if you won would be pretty silly. In a similar light, not checking the performance level of people you hire (after six months and after one year) guarantees you’ll never improve your recruiting.
  3. Failing to assess recruiting source effectiveness. At the and of each quarter effective recruiters look at the quality of candidates (and hires) in order to identify and compare them against sources to see which sources produce the best candidates. Failing to eliminate the ineffective sources means you are wasting your time and your recruiting budget.
  4. Under-utilizing referrals. Referrals are not only effective, but they significantly reduce your workload. By encouraging employees and managers to refer high-quality candidates, you free up valuable recruiter time to focus on more strategic issues.
  5. Focusing on “active” candidates. Most recruiters are satisfied to recruit people who are “actively” looking for a job. Unfortunately, the largest number of people ó and the highest quality candidates (top performers) ó are currently employed and are not actively seeking a new position. In addition, currently employed top performers do not respond to traditional candidate attraction tools. If the candidate was easy for you to find, odds are that every other recruiter has also identified them.
  6. Not prioritizing customers. In football, not all positions contribute equally to winning. The same is true in business. Limited time and resources means that you can’t do it all, so identify which jobs and internal business units have the most impact and give them priority service.
  7. Hiring slow. When you do identify a top quality candidate, it is essential that you move quickly or you will lose them. Indecisive recruiters, or those who don’t know their way around the bureaucracy, are doomed to lose the best candidates.
  8. Assuming recruiting tools work. Just because “everyone else does it,” that’s no reason to use a particular recruiting tool. It’s important to periodically gather metrics to identify which recruiting tools work and which do not. Many traditional tools like career centers, newspaper ads, large job boards, and job fairs turn out to be only marginally effective when you statistically compare them to other more effective tools.
  9. Being slow learners. Recruiting is one of the fastest changing professions on the planet. If you’re not constantly reading, benchmarking, and learning, you can go from great to ineffective in as little as a year.
  10. Not learning market research and sales principles. Few recruiters get formal training in recruiting, so self-learning is essential if you want to be successful. Those who study recruiting closely learn that sales and marketing research skills are essential if you expect to become a great recruiter. Identifying candidate demographics, candidate needs, and effective selling tools are the most important marketing and sales skills to learn.
  11. No customer satisfaction metrics. It’s arrogant to assume that everyone in the recruiting process is happy. If you don’t periodically check to see if your candidates, new hires, and managers are satisfied with the way they are treated, you’ll never be a good recruiter.
  12. Not understanding that “first use” matters. Almost all recruiting tools lose their effectiveness once everyone adopts them. Being the first to use a new recruiting tool or strategy has a great impact. But once everyone else adopts it, it’s time to drop it and move on. If you play “follow the leader” or get in the habit of using the same tools over and over, you’ll never be a top recruiter.
  13. Focusing on the volume positions. Most recruiters focus on “lower-level” positions. Unfortunately, all the internal glory comes from recruiting hard-to-hire and senior-level positions. Most recruiters get it backwards. They outsource their biggest chance for glory and recognition (top-level jobs) to executive search professionals, while they wallow in the high volume, but little impact, low-level positions.
  14. Assuming Internet recruiting is a panacea. Really “bad” candidates can be found on the Internet just like any other source. Don’t assume Internet tools are automatically more effective just because they’re faster and (sometimes) cheaper.

Lessons To Be Learned Becoming the best and staying on top is difficult in any profession. Unfortunately, in recruiting it’s even more difficult because of the dramatic impact that the economy and new technology have on recruiting. If your goal is to stay on top, it is essential to identify and learn from the errors of others. Cleaning up the mistakes you’re currently making is the first step towards becoming a world-class recruiter!

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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