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Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Ways: 10 Reasons You Still Haven’t Found the Right Person for Your Team

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By Kathy Marshall, Director of Quality
And Tom Brennan, Senior Writer


Part One: When the market gets tough . . .

If the search for that perfect fit is starting to feel like a comedy of errors, you’re not alone. You can shrug your shoulders and say, “It’s a tough market” (it is), but that is all the more reason to make sure your recruitment process isn’t suffering from a series of unfortunate events. At Decision Toolbox (DT) we’ve seen some of those events — common recruiting mistakes that can undermine an otherwise strong search. Over the next few posts I’ll discuss some of the Bad Ways you should avoid.

Bad Way #1: Fishing without a hook

At DT we ask every hiring manager this key question: “Why would your ideal candidate leave her or his current job to come and take this one?” I’m surprised how many times a hiring manager answers, “We have a great 401(k) plan.” Benefits are important, don’t get me wrong — you won’t attract anyone without them. But benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Think about it: isn’t it likely that top talent is already working for an employer of choice that offers great benefits?

Approach it like Marketing 101: what differentiates, for example, your open Account Executive (AE) position from the competitors’ open AE positions? You need to identify your target candidates, understand what gets them excited, and market it. Don’t offer fluff, like “a dynamic environment.” Offer meat, like “the opportunity to run this territory as if it were your own business.” This will tap into their entrepreneurial style. It’s no coincidence that I’m using a sales role as an example — it’s a competitive field and without a hook you won’t catch any fish — but it applies across the board. If you want “A+” players, you have to market and offer “A+” opportunities.

Bad Way #2: Thinking “goodness of fit” is a one-way street

When you have an empty seat it’s hard not to obsess about what you need, about what is missing. But in order to fill that seat you have to attract and engage the right candidates, and before you can do that, you have to walk a mile in Candie Candidate’s sensible pumps. Of course you want Ms. Candidate to be a good fit for your company, but Candie wants your company AND this particular position to be a good fit for her. As Nicole Cox, DT’s Chief Recruitment Officer, wrote in a recent blog, you can apply the same common sense to recruitment that you apply to dating. If both sides aren’t feeling the spark, one side is likely to have second thoughts after a few months. By identifying what is right for the company and the candidate, you will ensure the best hire and one that will stick. 

Bad Way #3: Posting lackluster job descriptions

The day I wrote this I searched “Account Executive” on LinkedIn’s job pages and came up with 17,774 hits. Your post had better stand out in a crowd that size. The job description on file in HR probably isn’t the right choice for recruitment. It’s an important document, but it’s for later in the engagement process. Instead, provide rich content: the hooks (of course), a day in the life, images, and videos. Include enough information about the role, company, market and industry to allow candidates to picture themselves in the role. If the job is in a location that some consider unappealing, present the positives about relocation. Make it interactive.

Click to view an example of Decision Toolbox’s interactive Jobinfo Writeup.


The more your posting stands out like a single red rose in a field of bluebonnets, the more likely your ideal candidate will find it and respond. But keep it real: bait-and-switch tactics are unethical and they can backfire — the candidate pool may visit the same professional networking sites, and a few negative posts about your company can make it just about impossible to fill positions.

Up next: more Bad Ways, like not calling after a great first date . . . well, interview. Meanwhile, share some of the pitfalls you’ve run across, below.

For more information on Decision Toolbox, check out the DT infographic here.

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