The 5 Biggest Recruiting Mistakes (And How To Fix Them).

Recruiting is never easy, but for some reason, many talent acquisition professionals make it somehow much harder than it really needs to be.

The fact that recruiters inherently work in silos and are largely forced to figure out the intricacies of talent sourcing and screening independently means that we tend to all make the same mistakes.

For the most part, they’re easily avoidable, but again, recruiters don’t really like to focus on what’s not working – after all, there’s too much work to do.

Trust me – every recruiter is going to make one of these top 5 most common sourcing or recruiting mistakes at one point or another in their careers – and likely, sooner rather than later. Some of these bad habits, of course, are easy to overcome. Some stick with you for the rest of your career if you’re not careful.

Remember: the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. And if you’re in sourcing or recruiting, chances are pretty damned good that you’ve made at least a few of these errors at some point or another.


Stop Making These 5 Recruiting Mistakes.

Don’t worry – you’re not alone. And while these are among the most common mistakes our industry makes, the good news is, they’re among the most fixable, too.

5. Know What You're Looking For, First.

It’s kind of an interesting paradox that in recruiting, we generally tend to bemoan the resume tsunami flooding our inboxes and ATS, complaining how there are just too many active applicants.

Conversely, however, there’s a tendency for sourcers and recruiters to start their searches by using the most generic and basic search strings, returning a broad swath of irrelevant results that are more or less worthless for sourcing or candidate development.

Too many direct sourcing results at the top of the funnel is every bit as frustrating, and probably even more futile, than receiving too many resumes at the bottom of the funnel. There’s a big difference between relevant results and qualified candidates – and statistically speaking, you’re much more likely to locate the latter in your ATS than in your search engine results.

What too often happens is when those results are generated using basic or generic search strings, they tend to be so big that they’re impossible to drill down on enough to render them relevant.

The real competitive advantage in using advanced searches such as X-Ray searches or advanced Boolean strings is to see results that are superior to every other sourcer out there.

Success lies largely in finding the most relevant candidates the fastest, which is why carefully constructing search strings is still such a relevant skillset, even in the age of semantic and natural language search.

Anyone can use Google. Not everyone can use it to effectively supercharge their sourcing.

4. Resumes Don't Always Tell the Whole Story.

Recruiters have been known to screw up once in a while, particularly when it comes to the inherently imperfect art of reviewing resumes. These documents are obviously limited in terms of their utility, static representations that paint a picture of a person’s experience and expertise in only the broadest of brushstrokes.

Because resumes don’t ever really tell the whole story, it’s always amazed me just how many recruiter actually take the time to read these bulleted lists and objective statements – it’s asinine, really, since they’re really designed to be skimmed over and scanned.

The average recruiter spends 8 seconds reviewing a resume, and if you’re wasting any more time than that qualifying them, then either shoot the candidate an email or pick up the phone and figure out whether or not they’re qualified, interested and available. It’s really not all that hard.

If you think you’re getting too many applicants and just don’t have time to read resumes, consider the possibility that you’re just spending too much time reviewing them.

8 seconds is enough.

3. A Confirmation for Confirmation Bias in Recruiting.

Of course, this shortcut can lead to another fundamental hiring fallacy, which basically confirms the confirmation bias that’s so pervasive in sourcing and recruiting.

While the key to going through the most resumes in the least amount of time by nature involves more errors of omission than inclusion when it comes to dispositioning, it’s imperative to avoid making snap judgments or unqualified assumptions about candidates’ qualifications (or lack thereof) based exclusively on their resumes.

Just like you don’t judge a book by its cover, to cite the old cliché, or a person from their Facebook wall or Twitter stream, never, ever make the mistake of reading too much into a resume. To assume makes an ass out of you and me, but it’s likely already costing you candidates.

Never assume, for instance, that someone would summarily dismiss a slight pay cut for the right opportunity, or be unwilling to relocate, or dead set against a temp-to-hire position when they’re currently an FTE.

If you’re passing up a good candidate because you’re giving into objections they haven’t actually made, it might be time to rethink how you read resumes, and consciously combat the often crippling confirmation bias that so often accompanies our reviews.

 2. Not Every Qualified Candidate is Worth Submitting.

As I’ve written about before, one of the most ridiculous things I think recruiters do is to submit the first few candidates they’re able to source and screen who meet the minimum qualifications for the position.

Many recruiters slate candidates with the goal not of finding the best talent on the market, but the first talent on the market you could find who were qualified, interested and available.

They find 5-7 potential fits who look good on paper and sound compelling enough over the phone to pass ahead to the hiring manager, and then move onto the next req without ever looking back to see if any better candidates might be out there.

If a hiring manager agrees to interview this initial candidate slate, then for most recruiters, it doesn’t matter. But what do you think the mathematical chances are that you’re going to source and develop the absolute best candidates you can find from a pool that’s limited to the first ones you were able to qualify. The same goes for your clients.

That’s why it’s important to be selective and figure that for the average search, there are around 100 applicants; of these, there will be around 10 who are qualified. Of these, the top 5 will be worth slating for final steps, but make sure you’re selective. I recommend waiting a minimum of two weeks before starting to screen out candidates; that’s 14 out of 60 days on an average time to fill spent sourcing, which is likely way less time than you’re spending now for your average req.

Sometimes, the wait is worth it. Either way, it’s better to be patient to make sure you’re making the right hire than to rush the wrong one – I promise you that.

1. There's No Such Thing As A Thought Leader.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably making the fundamental fallacy of listening to people who don’t really know the first thing about recruiting or sourcing positioning themselves as “experts” or “thought leaders” online. The truth is, there’s no such thing – and the only way to find out what’s going to work for you is to actually try it.

That’s why I recommend ignoring this post – and all blogs, really – closing out of this tab and pulling up a clean Google search bar. From there, it’s all trial and error, but unlike reading some specious blog bylined by a dude who hasn’t even filled a req in like five years, you just might learn something in the process.

Seriously. The only “best practices” are the ones that work for you in practice.

So it’s probably time you stopped reading and started recruiting. If you avoid these most common recruiting and sourcing mistakes, chances are, you’ll probably be OK.

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    Matt Charney
    Written by Matt Charney
    With a unique background that includes HR, blogging and social media, Matt Charney is a key influencer in recruiting and a self-described “kick-butt marketing and communications professional.” He serves as Chief Content Officer and Global Thought Leadership Head for Allegis Global Solutions. Matt also serves as partner and executive editor for Recruiting Daily. Matt's blog, Snark Attack, was named one of the top 15 business blogs officially recommended by WordPress, the only HR-related blog with that distinction. Recognized as an "HR Gamechanger" by HR Magazine, a "Analyst Superstar" by HRO Today and a "Top Recruiting Influencer" by Huffington Post, Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Forbes, Matt has also spoken about talent topics at events such as South by Southwest Interactive, BlackHat, Reconverse and DefCon. He also serves on the advisory boards of several HR tech startups, including Rolepoint, Universum Global, HiQ Labs, Textio, Clinch, AdRecruit, NextWave HR, TextRecruit, TrustSphere, and Human Predictions.