There are a lot of things recruiters do—and don’t do—that hurt them more than they realize. Watch out for these big mistakes that recruiters often unknowingly make.
There are many questions recruiters regularly ask themselves: “Will this perfect candidate accept the job I negotiated so hard to get them?” “Will I ever be able to climb my mountain of sales goals?” “How can I find new and talented candidates when it feels like all the good ones are taken?”
After recruiting for close to nine years, I know that these questions are valid. But there is one important question most recruiters are not asking themselves: “What mistakes am I making?” That introspection can help avoid both brutal short-term consequences and long-term ones. So, where do you start? The following mistakes are among the most common—and are worth addressing, right now.
Common Recruitment Mistakes Hurting Your Business
Mistake No. 1: Lacking a personal brand
Brand, brand, brand … did I mention personal brand? There are so many recruiters now. To stand out, you need to develop your brand from the get-go. It takes being more than “just another recruiter” for candidates to want to work with you and go through the hiring process.
One of my biggest professional regrets is not wearing floral shirts and posting content to all social media platforms when I started out. It would have helped me stand out sooner in my career. So consider this advice:
Love wine? Post a video of yourself talking about your favorite bottles to social media to become your network’s go-to connoisseur.
Like biking? Be known for arranging a bike meetup for your local network.
Adore golf? Post golf news to LinkedIn, and become known as the “golf guru.”
Simply wearing floral shirts has transformed my business—I’ve become more approachable. Candidates actually seek me out! Don’t be afraid to add some personal flair to your business. It will help you.
Mistake No. 2: Holding too tightly to metrics
There is value in meeting recruiting metrics, but your relationships with people are more important. If you focus more on metrics, your candidates will think you do not care about their best interests—just yours.
Instead, prioritize finding a cadence of talking to people that works best for you. Meeting around eight to 10 of the best candidates a week allows me time to do administrative work and promote my personal brand, while still developing relationships that lead to hires.
Mistake No. 3: Not taking care of the people you meet
Recruiters meet many highly skilled people, but then do nothing further. Caring for your network and improving your candidate experience is an underrated part of the recruiting process. Think about what else you can give people beyond a 15-minute meet-and-greet and maybe a job in the future.
Are you emailing candidates about best practices for their interview process? Are you creating a networking group to connect candidates with each other and hiring managers?
Recruiters only place only a minimal amount of the people they meet in a year. What are they doing with the rest? Take the time to deepen those relationships; it helps you meet and place even more highly qualified candidates.
Mistake No. 4: Lacking a personality
Recruiters are already at a disadvantage when we reach out to people because we are viewed as the opportunists of the HR industry. Show off your personality everywhere you can to ditch that image. For instance, my email signature is incredibly personalized. That way, when I direct message people for the first time, my note seems warmer. For the same reason, I stay away from using templated emails or LinkedIn messages. The more customized it is, the more likely your email will cut through all the clutter of generic recruiter sales pitches we all get—and the more candidates will want to respond to you. Posting thoughtful videos on LinkedIn is another way to let your personality shine through the dullness.
Mistake No. 5: Working too much
Take ample time off. Burnout is real in our industry because we have to meet 500-plus candidates a year. If you do not care for yourself, you will crash. In late 2018, I was leading a team of 12, running user groups, speaking at conferences, meeting three new people a day, and keeping up with an existing network of 3,000. It was way too much.
My 2019 goal was to take as much PTO as possible; lo and behold, it was my most successful year yet. The time off gave me a chance to recharge so that when I came back to work, I was more productive than I would have been without a break. New recruiters need to work a lot to be successful, but once you have been grinding for a few years, definitely schedule time off.
Mistake No. 6: Keeping your business the same
One of the biggest things I have done for my career is to diversify my business—and it has boosted my bottom line. I have become more than just someone who hits up candidates randomly online. I realized that recruiters are market-labor experts. We see behind the curtain of thousands of companies, so we know what works, what does not, and what to do to build a good business. As a result, we can give great career advice.
With that in mind, I have spoken at conferences, launched a YouTube channel, and created text messaging channels and a networking group. I did all this because I realized cold-emailing people for my career is not enough. Speaking and writing gets more people to come to you than a one-to-one email. Plus, if your goal is to help people and not just chase money, you will be more fulfilled as you give back to your community.
Mistake No. 7: Focusing only on the money
Early in my career, I was sitting in a sales session at Vaco. The speaker asked everyone to list the top reason why they were in the recruiting business. Many people in the room listed money first, but my number one? People.
Most of the recruiters who prioritized money are not at the company anymore, and that should speak volumes about what your focus should be. Can you make decent money as a recruiter? Sure. However, our business is all about people. And if you are not in it for helping the best candidates and building relationships, you will become dissatisfied.