Five Ways to Turn Off Prospective Candidates

May 2017 Recruiting Commentary

Over the years we have found that the companies who consistently fail at recruiting - extremely long time to hire, abandoned searches, and/or turned down offers - usually make the same mistakes.

MBK Search has worked with clients of all types across most major industries in our area of focus - each with their own unique set of challenges, personnel, and hiring goals. The war for talent in this market is a zero-sum game - either a company is successful in hiring great candidates or it is not. Over the years we have found that the companies who consistently fail at recruiting - extremely long time to hire, abandoned searches, and/or turned down offers - usually make the same mistakes which ultimately cause them to lose out. The following is a list of the errors hiring managers make which virtually guarantee a failed search.

  1. Failure to recognize the critical 80%. We all want to hire the absolute perfect candidate...I get it. Does the perfect hire really, truly exist? With every relationship (and employment is certainly that), it is important to realize that you are never going to get everything you want. During the planning phase of a search, it is critical to follow the 80/20 rule when coming up with the criteria to evaluate potential hires: what are the key 80% of the value, abilities, and skills required for a role? and what are the 20% of the things that can be trained or off-boarded to another area?. Simple planning and expectation setting will save a tremendous amount of pain down the road.
  2. Assuming to know everything there is about the market. Many hiring managers mistakenly assume they have an in-depth understanding of the talent market for their area - which can negatively affect the outcome of a search. I agree that a hiring manager will have some very, very useful insight into a the market for a particular search, however, it is not absolute and often influenced by personal bias (e.g. assuming that there are a ton of people out there who are "exactly" like the last person they hired, etc). We counsel our clients to "know what they don't know" and to incorporate as many research/data inputs as possible in order to gain a complete picture of the market - who is hiring? what are the comp ranges? what skills are in high demand? which universities to target? who are the competitors? etc. As an example, recruiting partners are an excellent source of intelligence as they are the ones who live and breathe these searches.
  3. The 'grass is always greener'. If I had a dime for every client who decided to put a qualified candidate in a holding pattern as they look for other more qualified candidates, I'd be on a beach somewhere. Look, in an employment relationship no one likes being someone's second choice and in a growing economy no one really has to anymore. Candidates are often fielding multiple offers from employers who view them as a first choice - playing this game (and it is a game) is a sure fire way to lose potentially good people. As an employer, you should have a specific set of criteria (see #1) and know fairly quickly whether you want to hire someone or not. For anyone whom you are unsure about, save everyone the heartache and cut 'em loose.
  4. Being Stingy. There is a big difference between keeping salary offers within budget and "nickel and diming" a candidate. If your recruiting process is worth anything, early on you should know: A) Your salary budget for a role; and B) What a candidate is looking to make. With this in mind the equation should be relatively straight forward: if a candidate within budget, then why haggle over a few thousand dollars? While it may be a 'short term' win to save a few bucks on the front end, you run a 'long' term risk of an employee who feels devalued and will ultimately jump ship for better money.
  5. Negative candidate experience. This one is pretty simple...follow the golden rule - treat others the way you would like to be treated. Harken back to the days that you interviewed for a job that you really wanted - did the company call you back? did the recruiter give you timely feedback? were you treated like a human being or a cog in a machine? In this market good candidates need to be wooed, make sure to treat them like human beings...respect goes a long way.

We would love to hear your thoughts on big mistakes employers make in attracting talent, so please feel free to comment or drop us a line. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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