Top 11 Recruiting Pitfalls to Avoid

By Dustin McManus

In the fast, bustling world of recruiting and small business, the main objective when looking for a new employee is to hire the best candidate for a given position as quickly and efficiently as possible while keeping hiring costs manageable. Sounds easy on paper, but it’s a much harder feat to actually accomplish. There are a number of recruiting pitfalls that can knock your recruiting efforts off course if you’re not careful.

Here are the top 11 recruiting pitfalls to avoid as a small business owner (and solutions on how to fix them):

Recruiting Pitfall #1: Rushing the Recruiting Process

Naturally, you want the hiring process to be fluid and quick in order to fill open positions fast, but not at the expense of excessively costly hires or an inefficient process that results in multiple mistakes and, ultimately, a wrong hire. Spontaneity is not a trait that you want defining your recruitment efforts. Simply hiring someone to fill an immediate gap, rather than taking the time to strategically evaluate the position, is one of the most reckless recruiting pitfalls.

Solve This Problem: Take some time to know exactly the type of position you’re looking to fill, the roles this employee will take on, what they’ll contribute to the overall goals of your company, and the person that will ultimately be best suited for the job in order to find the right candidate. Going a bit slower and steadier leads to much more competent new hires.

Recruiting Pitfall #2: Describing the Position in Vague Terms

It’s fundamental to start the recruitment process with an accurate, detailed job description so you can get the right candidates applying and filtering in. A vague job description is misleading to potential candidates and could start off your recruitment process on wobbly tracks.

Solve This Problem: Take some time to highlight all of the key responsibilities of the job, and be sure to describe the goal of this role and the purpose of this position in the overall scheme of things. Being upfront about everything the position entails will help you get the kind of candidates you want applying for the role.

Recruiting Pitfall #3: Recruiting Only One Way

Don’t pigeonhole your business when it comes to how you recruit. There are so many different ways to find talented candidates these days, everything from old-fashioned referrals to posting on online job boards to scouring and networking on social media platforms.

Solve This Problem: For every tried and true method of recruiting you already employ, switch it up and try something new alongside with it. If you’re strictly a referral person, try posting on a simple job board like Indeed. This will greatly diversify your candidate pool. You can even use professional recruiting organizations like 4 Point Consulting, perfect when looking to hire for a highly specialized role, to ensure you get the best possible hire.

Recruiting Pitfall #4: Focusing Too Much on Experience

Experience in a given field or particular job isn’t the be-all-end-all when recruiting the right candidate. You have to take into mind other things, such as how well they’ll fit into your company’s culture, their propensity and capability to grow and add greater value down the line to your company, and their propensity to remain loyal to a work environment or cause.

Solve This Problem: Don’t let the resume solely dictate a hire. To truly suss out if a candidate is right for the job, consider giving them an aptitude test or trial project. This way you can get a first-hand look at the work they can do in order to see how they may or may not thrive in a given position.

Recruiting Pitfall #5: Not Considering Unconventional Candidates

Focusing on and recruiting people from certain schools or educational backgrounds, or whose careers are exact matches to a given position, can cause you to overlook unconventional candidates who could bring added value you never thought about. It can also result in less expensive hires, due to the fact that these out-of-the-box candidates may not have quite as many years of experience in a given field, thus not expecting a top salary.

Solve This Problem: Don’t boil down a potential hire to just a rudimentary check list. Be open to creative problem solvers and candidates from outside your given industry that still have reputable skill sets, backgrounds and references. If you see a really qualified, but not exactly appropriately matched candidate, reach out by doing a phone screen and give them a chance to explain what they feel they could bring to your company.

Recruiting Pitfall #6: Rejecting Overqualified Candidates

Whether you think they’ll be too expensive or they might end up getting bored and leaving sooner than you like for something more challenging, someone who’s overqualified isn’t necessarily a bad hire. Their immense talent and skills will be an asset to your company no matter what, or how long they stay.

Solve This Problem: Once again, a phone screen is the quickest, simplest, most convenient way to suss out a candidate you may otherwise ignore. If you see an ideal applicant who seems too good to be true, ask them upfront and see why they applied. Give them a chance to assuage your concerns.

Recruiting Pitfall #7: Waiting for a “Unicorn” Candidate

Hate to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as that one perfect job candidate to rule them all. Don’t waste time and money by holding out for something that doesn’t exist. Drawing out the recruiting process to hunt for that nonexistent unicorn candidate can also lead to productivity issues by keeping your company understaffed and overworked for too long.

Solve This Problem: Do some research of similar positions in your zip code. Look at job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor to get perspective on where you may be missing the mark. If all else fails and you’re still looking aimlessly for something that might not be out there, schedule a free consultation with us and we’ll do our best to get you on the right recruiting track!

Recruiting Pitfall #8: Falling Prey to Bias

Just because you “like” someone for who they are doesn’t mean they’ll be good at the job. This is known as the “similar to me” bias. Recruitment isn’t a popularity contest - you want someone who can bring in fresh, new perspectives rather than the idea you’ve generated in your head as being “right.” When this happens, diversity in the hiring process diminishes as well, derailing the chance for a balanced and multi-talented team.

Solve This Problem: Consult with others at your company and bring in outside voices and opinions when you’re narrowing down candidates. Get their insights and impressions about candidates, and be sure to take into consideration the thoughts of those they’ll be working the most closely with.

Recruiting Pitfall #9: Overvaluing the Interview

Interviewers can waste a lot of time trying to solidify their intuitive first impressions about a candidate within just seconds of meeting them. Conversely, candidates can act or say what they think interviewers want to hear in order to land the job, making the interviewing process a facade more than anything. Make sure you look at the whole picture of the candidate- the resume, the phone screen, the in-person interview, and the references.

Solve This Problem: Consider adding in another interview step, like giving an assessment test or exercise to really ascertain how a candidate will behave in a given position - this will offer a more definitive assessment to base your hiring decision on. Using a system like BambooHR, where you and your colleagues can collaborate and take notes, as well as rank candidates and store documents related to someone’s candidacy can also prove extremely helpful.

Recruiting Pitfall #10: Ignoring Rejected Candidates

Many companies and recruiters are incredibly guilty of failing to follow-up with candidates that don’t make it past certain points in the recruitment process. Not only does this leave a bad taste in the mouths of candidates, but it can start to take a hit on the reputation of your company based on how you treat job candidates.

Solve This Problem: Your recruitment process and company brand can greatly benefit by giving some quick, simple feedback to rejected candidates. This goes a long way when tapping into former applicants for new positions that may open up. Plus, it’s the polite thing to do! Consider using this template for job rejection letters as a starting point.

Recruiting Pitfall #11: Being Stingy with Salaries

Salary negotiation is always a tricky aspect of recruiting, but good candidates know their worth and won’t entertain offers that aren’t up to their standards and capabilities. Ensure that the salary expectations for the position are set before going too deep in the recruiting process to avoid wasting your time cultivating a candidate to find out they won’t accept the position based on what you’re offering. To that end, make a respectable offer that matches their title, experience and value.

Solve This Problem: Don’t want to talk about money with a candidate? Use 4 Point Consulting for your phone interviews so that we can ask them about it right off the bat and get you the information you need without disclosing your budget.

These 11 recruiting pitfalls are commonly made mistakes for a reason. It can be hard to identify potential roadblocks as an overwhelmed, overworked small business owner. It’s easy to get stuck with tunnel vision and simply look for the fastest way to recruit possible. Staying mindful of these recruiting pitfalls will have you accelerating toward the best hire in no time at all… and remember, we are here to help and can offer a free recruitment consultation to assess your situation.