The 7 most costly hiring mistakes to avoid in order to recruit top talent

by Jobbatical May 18, 2017

If you’ve spent any time looking for a job or trying to find talent to fill a job, I’m betting you have felt that hiring ain’t what you thought it should be. The status quo hiring model is broken. Here are my top seven hiring mistakes that you should avoid if you want to recruit the best talent.

1. You can’t recruit the best talent with a poorly written job description

The job description is too often a laundry list of “aspirational” elements that would never fit a real live human. Recruiters — can we get some sanity on this? It may be particularly bad when it comes to technical or digital marketing positions. The list of skills is more equal to what a 1 kilobyte computer (the unicorns of computers) would have rather than an ordinary human. Let’s not put every computer language in some type of wish list but rather let’s put a skill description that would fit an ordinary mortal. Same goes for digital marketing — not only do they want you to be able to write but analyze, compute and synthesize with every digital & social tool known to man (and even those not invented yet!) Furthermore — don’t put years of experience required as longer than the computer language / social media tool has even existed!

What to do? Let’s get real! Write a job description that speaks to the best human for the job. Add personality. Don’t have unrealistic expectations and then have to sort through the liars that don’t have all those unrealistic skills.

2. Lazy Job Sourcing will not get you the best talent

How many hiring managers create the job description, post it, then wait for the talent to come to them? Do you think you’re getting the best talent when you do this? If you’re dating do you present yourself on the sidewalk and wait for the love of your life to appear? Then why do we think the job description is going to attract the “best” person for the job? The “best” talent is already happily employed and most likely isn’t even looking for a job.

What to do instead? The best talent for your job probably won’t even see your carefully crafted job description. Be proactive! Take it to them. Find out what “street corner” they hang out on and recruit proactively.

3. Companies spend too little on human resources and have too few HR professionals

Hiring Managers are overwhelmed. What’s this got to do with why hiring is broken? If your company requires a bot to sort through the resumes for a job to look for keywords rather than a human — then you need more HR help. Even though most of us load up our resumes with these “magical” keywords so we can “make it past the bots.” How is that helping the situation? Can you really replace a real live human who can “read between the lines” with a bot? I don’t think so.

What to do? Company’s please take human resources seriously and give them what they need! Last time I checked humans still run the world and they should be running your hiring game too. (Unless you really want to hire bots? — but that’s the other story I wrote.)

4. Resume Review is too often given short shrift

This is strongly related to #3. Even when a hiring manager finally sees a resume that made it past the antiquated or useless talent application portal (don’t get me started on Taleo) they are still scanning it for keywords but not really reading it. Yes, I know they don’t have time — see #3. But — if they don’t have time to read it, do they really have time to evaluate it? Maybe this has something to do with employee dissatisfaction — they weren’t the right one for the job in the first place.

What to do? Read the cover letter & resume thoroughly hiring managers. Yes, some are obviously not worth the time. But in your haste, you may miss a gem that wants to transfer useful skills and, bring a completely new element to the job. Interview that diamond in the rough or that eclectic career human. They just might be the “best” hire — making a cookie cutter position into something really special.

5. Interviews are often not conducted well

Interview questions are too often cookie cutter. How many times have you heard the question, “Tell me about your biggest failure.” We all have the pat answer to that, don’t we? We talk about a failure in a positive light and what we learned from it. I ache for a hiring manager to ask me about my favorite hobby if there is something that pulls at my heart or makes me want to dance. Can you imagine if someone asked you questions that made you feel like a friend? That might help you to know them as a human? Humans are a part of your team, not just a set of skills.

What to do? Yes, hiring manager, ask them to tell you about the skills you need in the position. But don’t forget to treat them as a friend, a fellow human, struggling and triumphing in this world just as you do.

6. After the interview candidates are often not treated with respect

Interview follow up. This is truly one of the biggest failures I see so often with the current hiring system. I took the trouble to spend a few hours of my life preparing, worrying and let’s face it — getting into a really uncomfortable pair of shoes — to come to the interview. Can’t you at least let me know via email (phone is so much more human(e)) that I didn’t get the job? Would it really take that much time? (Refer here to item #3 above) I will not speak highly of your company to any other friend if you don’t acknowledge my time at the interview whether or not I got the job.

What to do? Please send candidates a notice, or better yet phone them (I know this is as rare as unicorns) and tell the interviewee they didn’t get the position. The icing on the cake — tell them why. Because if they were good enough to get the interview out of all those thousands of resumes, you saw something in them — help a brother out with a nice explanation about why they didn’t get the job.

7. Onboarding talent is often impersonal

Onboarding — Make it personal. Be prepared for your bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new employee. They’re nervous and excited to be there. Show them some care and if you make them start on a Monday (this is my pet-peeve because everyone is grumpy and busy on Mondays), carve out time first thing to get them settled. Alternatively, let them start on a Tuesday when the rest of the team is already into their week and have time to talk to the newbie.

How to fix? Starting a new job is like the first day of school we dreaded growing up — make your new hire feel welcome immediately. Remember, they just bought a new outfit for their first day and they wouldn’t mind you noticing.

Have your own hiring pet peeves? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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