How Not To Recruit

Eighty percent of staff turnover is caused by bad hiring decisions, according to the Harvard Business Review. But few organizations question whether problems within their own recruiting processes turn away potential talent. If your recruiting strategy exhibits any of the following obstacles, it’s time for a rethink.

Self-Centered Job Advertisements

Most job advertisements speak extensively about the talent, skills and qualifications a candidate must have, but do nothing to sell the job to the applicant. A three page list of essential requirements tells potential candidates that you care more about satisfying a HR check list than you do about nurturing your staff’s potential and attracting the best people for the job. Instead of being enamored with the company’s culture and the prospect of working for you, talented applicants are likely to run for the hills. If that sounds unlikely in today’s difficult labor market, remember that talented candidates always have other options.

Laborious Processes

A recent survey by UK research firm Staffing revealed that a staggering 47 percent of job candidates had bailed on a prospective employer because the hiring process was so frustrating. Difficult-to-navigate recruitment portals, onerous communication, bloated application forms and ambiguous job descriptions fall into this category.

No Human Face

If your business spends thousands on marketing but pennies on its recruitment communications, you’ve got the balance wrong. Talented applicants deserve more than an impersonal “your application has been received” letter (the passive voice isn’t welcoming, either). So, thank the candidate for applying. Tell him that you’re genuinely pleased to receive his application. Give him a human contact and a direct telephone number or email address. Most of all, tell him what happens next. Candidates who receive clearly-identified recruitment steps and a realistic time table are more likely to stick around.

Close-Minded Culture

Every organization has a culture and, whether you want it to or not, it will shine through your recruitment practices. Candidates use the application process as a barometer for the organization’s working environment: show inflexibility, and the candidate has every right to assume that he’ll have little independence in the role.


Most people want to work in organizations that put their people first. They want their boss to show unfailing respect for the work they do. They want consideration for the little hiccups that life throws in the way, such as an office-hours medical appointment or a family bereavement. Throw them into a recruitment process that disengages leadership, favors process over empathy or delegates the recruitment decision to an unconnected third party, and your applicants are not going to champion your firm. Before you know it, the best talent will have gone.

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