The 5 Biggest Mistakes Recruiters Make

February 25, 2014

Just because you’re really great at mining the Internet for candidates, and developing relationships with hiring managers, doesn’t mean you’re not making some big mistakes along the way.

Martin Yate, who worked as a recruiter for 20 years, and writes about hiring in his bestselling series, “Knock ‘em Dead,” points out the top five mistakes he sees recruiters making over and over again that can wind up adversely affecting their chances for long term success:

1. Searching for that perfect match

While a job listing may mention desirable skills ranging from A-Z that the candidate needs to have in order to do the job, sometimes the best people are not necessarily the ones who already have every possible range of experience listed, Yate explains.

“When you hire someone who’s already had all the necessary experience somewhere else, that person may not last long in the job because there’s nothing new for them to learn,” Yate notes. “The best fit I’ve found, is someone who has about 70% of the required skills; that way there’s room for them to grow into the position.”

2. Hiring at the top of the salary range

Often when recruiters and hiring managers are given a salary range, they assume that the top range people are going to be the most desirable choice for that particular position, “but the reality,” Yate says, “is quite different.”

When you hire someone at the top of the range, there often isn’t a budget to give them raises, and consequently, they might not last as long in the job as someone who is hired at the middle or low end of the range.

“If you find someone at or below the salary range, you can bring them on with a salary bump which is motivating, and you still have the opportunity to give them increases which increases loyalty and commitment.”

3. Relying too heavily on the job description

In his experience as a recruiter for a public traded company, Yate found that often corporate job descriptions are quite vague and don’t really match what the actual job entails. “Legal sanitization of job descriptions is quite common in corporations,” says Yate. “Because the legal department is looking to remove anything that could lead to lawsuits.”

What you’re left with is often a bland, generic description that might not really depict the job in a realistic way, he explains.

Recruiters can solve this problem by speaking with the manager of the department verbally to gain a more accurate understanding of what’s really required for the position. This way a recruiter can line up skills more realistically and make a better match.

4. Making assumptions about a client’s “type,” based on past hires

Just because you’ve had success placing a certain demographic or type of candidate with one particular client, doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be open to something entirely different for the next available spot.

“I’ve very easy to make assumptions about who or what a manager will hire,” explains Yate, who has seen recruiters fall into this rut, where they believe their client is only looking for a specific type of person, who went to a certain type of school, and they aren’t willing to send along someone who is out of the box.

“If you can set aside your preconceived ideas about who you believe someone is going to hire,” he says, “you can help to create a more diverse team that represents a variety of perspectives.

5. Placing too much emphasis on previous work experience

“If a recruiter is looking for a candidate with a certain number of years’ experience doing a job, often it’s too easy for them to just assume that five years of experience as an accountant, makes them a good bet for the job,” says Yate.

But that’s not the most effective use of the hiring manager’s time, says Yate. “The best candidate has to be able to show that they can solve the problems that come up in their position.” The only way you can get at the root of whether they have those skills is by asking behavioral questions about how they solved problems in the past.

“If you focus mostly on the ‘years of experience,’ you can skip over some very qualified people,” Yates stresses.

Being a recruiter requires myriad skills. But by holding a microscope up to how you perform the duties of your job, you can wind up placing candidates with more sticking power, which will improve your reputation for the long haul.

* image by zbdh12