Want Top Talent? Avoid These Five Mistakes



Continued economic improvement means employers need to work harder to attract, recruit, and hire top talent.  Are you making easily avoidable recruiting mistakes that impact your bottom line?

Recruiting is not what it used to be—and neither are the mistakes that trip up well-intentioned recruiters.  As research advises businesses to focus more on harvesting external data to supplement the recruiting cycle, other problems arise when the “perfect fit” on paper just does not fit your company culture.

The biggest mistakes you can make in today’s recruiting environment

Technology like applicant tracking systems (ATS) makes life easier for HR and recruiting personnel.  Job boards reach more deeply into desired talent spaces and better information is available to build comparative candidate profiles.  Yet problems lurk within these developing processes.

When planning your human capital needs, think about these less obvious, but all-too-common, recruiting problems:

  1. Lack of succession planning: Succession planning is not just important when cultivating experienced talent for leadership roles.  Ideally, your overall HCM plan identifies each worker, where they are in the employee lifecycle, and what strategy you will employ as your talent develops, moves forward, and probably, moves on.

With the recession, experienced talent became available on the job market.  Talent is still on the market, but is harder to engage and retain. Like all other areas of business management, workforce readiness is critical—be sure hiring practices are curving with the anticipated development of your company needs.

  1. Have you applied lately? While it was easy to extend the interview process and delay hiring decisions in the past, highly skilled workers are less likely to waste time with difficult applications and long interview processes.

As users flock to mobile devices, be sure your chosen job boards are optimized for mobile, and are fast and easy to use.  Do you require candidates to upload only PDF files?  Most savvy job hunters check out your website with a couple of swipes before uploading their resume or using their LinkedIn profile.  Be sure you have a streamlined, online application process that is easy to use.  If in doubt, apply for a position in your own company to test your system.  If you have difficulty applying, or are screened out by your ATS, consider some changes.


  1. Culture Club: A recent piece from the Harvard Business Review describes the importance of recruiting for cultural fit.  Cultural fit is not a bid to hire and maintain a homogenous workforce, and it does not relate to functional job fitness, either.  Instead, cultural fit refers to whether a candidate, with their preferences, personality, and predilections, is likely to be a good fit for your internal business community.

Comfort in the habits, norms, and expectations of a workplace environment are important.  So important, notes HBR, that poor cultural fit leading to flight, or termination, can cost your company 50 to 60 percent of that salary in turnover costs.

Hiring for cultural fit is only possible when you can define, articulate, and model the culture of your company.  Interviewing for cultural fit is also a great way to enhance the onboarding, process when your candidate is hired. Learn more about your potential hire by looking beyond skill set questions to preferences like:

  • Work habits
  • Preferred management or supervision
  • Best day at work, worst day at work

When comparing candidate profiles, understand that the most highly qualified candidate on paper may not be the best fit for your company.

  1. Be careful what you ask for: When working with hiring managers to define a vacancy, or anticipate a new position—be realistic.  Advice to job seekers is to pare down resumes, create a solid LinkedIn profile, and clearly understand strengths, and value proposition. While it might be tempting to embroider your available job description, take time to learn the core competencies and real experience needed for the position.  A great job description describes what the ideal candidate does, what experience they have, salary range, and extra skills that would be a plus.

Distorted, catch-all job descriptions do not attract key talent, and encourage job seekers to distort their applications and qualifications in return

  1. Not too fast, not too slow: The treatment of candidates during the recruiting journey affects your brand.  Plan your application and interview cycle to last only as long as needed.  Do not make a hasty decision if a highly-regarded candidate comes your way, and do not draw out the process any longer than needed.  How people are treated during recruitment often parallels treatment when employed.  Respect for the time and efforts of all candidates wins you the right hire—and a good reputation on job boards.

Talented candidates are only a click away.  Make the best moves you can during the recruiting cycle to be sure you get the right candidate for the job—and your company.

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