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How To Avoid Committing The Seven Deadly Sins Of Recruiting

It's not too late to course-correct if you've made any of these mistakes.

djrandco / Shutterstock
djrandco / Shutterstock

Patricia received a call from an enthusiastic recruiter: “I came across your profile, and you have such an amazing background. You would be a perfect candidate for our company.” The conversation morphed into a series of interviews, first on video and then a couple of on-site trips for which Patricia applied for leave from her current employer. At the end of the final meeting, the friendly HR representative showed her around the office and hinted at where she would sit upon joining the company. Emotions and time invested, Patricia could now picture herself as part of the company. She was expecting to receive an offer letter by the end of that week — but Friday came and went, and so did the next two weeks. Her follow-up emails and voicemails were unanswered. A month later she found out through social media that someone else had taken that role and joined the company. Where did this go wrong?

Winning and losing, acceptance and rejection are two sides of the same coin. The issue here was not the lack of offer, but the flawed recruiting. This is where it typically goes wrong, where what I call “the seven deadly sins of recruiting” set in.

1. Not responding to a candidate who submits their resume: “We had unusually high interest. It’s just me, and there are not enough hours in the day. I will respond only if I need to …” A good recruiter must ignore these inner voices justifying their lack of responsiveness. In fact, ironically, it takes far less time to acknowledge a candidate than to mentally wrestle with yourself on how to avoid doing so. Remember, an applicant may be a good fit for another position and/or a valuable source of referral for someone else they may know of.

2. Judging based on a perception or bias versus evaluation: Rejecting a candidate because they did not attend a top school, judging someone’s communication skills based on their accent, judging someone from the clothes their wear or mistaking an introverted candidate as lacking ideas are all examples of stereotypes and biased perceptions. Judging before evaluating is a serious mistake a recruiter can make, and they will lose great candidates in the process.

3. Pursuing a candidate when you were interested but then ignoring them once you realize they are not your candidate: This is what Patricia above went through. Recruiting is not about closing a vacancy, but rather about building relationships. Think of it like an investment yielding you returns longer-term — a positive relationship leaves doors open for the future. I once had a friend who had made an offer to a candidate. The candidate declined to join a week before the anticipated start date. Fortunately, my friend had left the door open for the runner-up, who accepted the position instead.

4. Being too narrow-minded about your requirements: My friend was once contacted by a recruiter who was looking to hire an HR professional with semiconductor industry experience only. Further, they only wanted candidates from particular schools with various other constraints. When he asked how this industry experience or a particular school would help and why another industry professional could not do the job, the recruiter did not have a good answer. By being overly constrained, we filter out great candidates with exceptional experience.

5. Focusing on hiring for today’s needs but not factoring in the potential for the future: When you hire for today, you have hired for yesterday by the time tomorrow arrives. A resume is only a corridor into the past. A recruiter must look for gateways into the future. Look for learning agility and demonstration of stepping outside of comfort zones. When the technology landscape changes, these are the candidates who will adapt seamlessly to those shifts and lead the next leap forward.

6. Not representing the company brand effectively: Michael showed up 25 minutes late and kept the candidate waiting. With no apology, he dove right into the questions. His smart watch chimed soon to reminding him of his next meeting. He kept glancing at his watch, focused more on his schedule than the candidate before him. During one response, he yawned and then said, “I haven’t had my coffee yet.” The candidate accepted another company’s offer and withdrew from the process with Michael’s organization. Michael was representing the company’s face and created an impression the company was not organized and did not treat its employees well.

7. Inauthenticity: As you highlight the positives to “sell” the opportunity to the candidate, you must not forget to mention if the company is considering a sale or the hiring manager may change. Without worrying whether the news is good or bad, a recruiter must present the entire picture so that the candidate can make an informed decision.

Recruiting is your best brand ambassador. It opens a corridor for a company to meet its next set of superstars. By avoiding these pitfalls, companies can establish a successful talent brand and compete effectively in the intense war for talent.

This article originally appeared on Forbes.

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