How to Avoid the 3 Biggest Recruiting Mistakes

February 17, 2015

As a corporate recruiting leader (Amazon, Expedia) turned consultant and trainer, I’ve listened to thousands of recruiters and hiring managers across the globe share what works and what doesn’t when going after top talent.

Sure, a lot of it has to do with how well we source, screen, and sell candidates and there’s already hundreds of articles covering tactical recruiting best practices. But, not nearly enough attention is given to the mistakes that can take place further upstream, between the recruiter/HR professional and hiring manager, early in the process.

I’d like to focus on the 3 biggest mistakes and solutions out of the 8 I shared in my recent LinkedIn webinar. These are all focused on helping recruiters and HR pros avoid common pitfalls and play more of a talent advisor role.

The 3 biggest mistakes recruiters make when talking to hiring managers

1.  Playing note taker and order taker during the strategy/kickoff meeting

Recruiters must lead the strategy development conversation with the hiring manager when a new req/job is approved.

To do this, we have to come with data on past successes (where have we found this kind of talent in the past, how long has it typically taken to hire this kind of talent in this geography) and leverage this to make credible strategy recommendations.

To accelerate the “what is the profile you’re looking for?” conversation, try leveraging calibration resumes/CVs of similar but unique potential candidates and ask the hiring manager to critique these sample resumes before you begin sourcing.

Talent advisors deliver more value by helping hiring managers own recruitment and be better at hiring. Do this by sharing messages along the lines of: “Our most successful hiring managers do things differently. Here’s the key to being successful as a hiring manager here at our company…”. Your primary goal is not to please the hiring manager, but – instead – to help the hiring manager succeed.

2. Accepting unrealistic candidate profiles

Recruiters need to educate hiring managers on the tradeoffs that exist when they want it all: fast, cheap, quality talent.

Explain that if they want someone cheap and fast, quality will suffer (you won’t get all of the education and experience you seek). If they want a quality person who is cheap, it’ll take longer. And lastly, if they want someone cheap, who’s very good, they’re going to have to pay more.

These are what I call the rules of recruiting physics – you can’t optimize for all 3.  We should never suggest a hiring manager “lowers her hiring bar” and hire someone who is not good, but we should absolutely help her understand the consequences of unrealistic expectations.

3.  Accepting unrealistic timeline requests

One of the biggest opportunity areas when working with hiring managers is to set better expectations on timelines. Recruiters must work with hiring managers to help them understand how long each of the major steps typically takes in the process, and how their actions can help – or hurt – their time to fill.

Share your timeline early in the process, highlighting the critical role they play in getting great talent hired quickly, so that they won’t be surprised when delays are caused bGu things they control – like giving you feedback on candidates, being available for interviews, having realistic expectations around salaries, and getting pre-approvals for offers.

I share an example of a great timeline expectation-setting document in the webinar.

Lead the hiring manager relationship early on for success

The more I work with high-performing recruitment teams – and study what they do differently – the less and less I believe that greatness only comes from sourcing skills and technology. Instead, it’s often the ability to lead the relationship with hiring managers and deliver more value at the beginning of the process.

Download the full hour-long webinar to learn all 8 mistakes.

I'll be speaking at the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference again in 2015.  If you’ll be in Anaheim, swing by and introduce yourself.  In the meantime, let’s connect on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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John Vlastelica is a former recruiting director with Amazon and Expedia.  He's a regular author and speaker on all things recruitment, and – through his consulting and training firm, Recruiting Toolbox – works with companies to help them build and deploy the right recruiting strategies, processes, tools, systems, and training to their recruiters and hiring managers.  He's also a repeat judge for the ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards and the Candidate Experience Awards, instructor for the Recruiting Leadership Lab, and co-founder of  Talent42 , the US’s national technical recruiting conference.  www.recruitingtoolbox.com  @vlastelica

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