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Posted on  |  Hiring and onboarding

9 Recruiting Mistakes to Avoid

Recruiting Mistakes

Are you ready to hire? The steps you take now can mean the difference between a quality hire and a subpar one. As a small business owner, a poor hiring decision can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Here are nine mistakes to avoid when recruiting new employees:

#1: Waiting until it’s too late.

While you can’t always plan for staffing needs, waiting until you desperately need to fill a position may lead to rash decisions. If you make a bad hire, filling the position a second time is more costly and time consuming. Project staffing needs by considering seasonal fluctuations in business, expected sales, and current performance.

#2: Overlooking the job description.

Prior to starting the recruiting process, develop a well-crafted job description for your open position. Job descriptions identify the essential functions and qualifications needed for the role. These are key elements for a job advertisement and for assessing whether applicants meet the minimum requirements for the job.

#3: Inflating job requirements.

If your requirements exceed those needed for the position, it may be difficult to fill the role. For example, not every job requires a bachelor’s degree but many employers include it as a qualification regardless of the position. This may prevent otherwise qualified applicants from applying. Likewise, resist the urge to focus solely on prestige, such as experience at a big name company or a degree from an Ivy League college. Look carefully at the position and determine the job-related requirements needed.

#4: Failing to be competitive.

Review salary surveys to compare your company’s pay data with other businesses similar in size, industry and location. If your company is unable to offer a high base salary, consider a mix of direct and indirect compensation. Direct compensation includes wages, salaries, commissions, and bonuses. Indirect compensation may include health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, and commuter assistance. The right mix can help you attract (and retain) top talent while managing labor costs.

#5: Relying on one recruiting method.

Relying on one or two recruiting methods could limit the quality of your applicant pool and increase the time it takes to fill the open role. Consider a wide variety of recruiting methods that fit your budget, such as online job boards, posting jobs on your website and social media pages, or asking for employee referrals. If you’re looking to fill a highly specialized role, consider using a professional recruiting firm or reach out to industry organizations.

#6: Neglecting to send rejection letters.

Once you have disqualified a candidate, inform him or her of your decision. While difficult to do, sending a rejection letter helps maintain goodwill with applicants. This is important if your needs change and you want to tap into former applicants for future openings.

#7: Excluding applicants based on protected characteristics.

Federal, state, and local laws protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of age, race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, and other protected characteristics. Some states and local jurisdictions have also enacted laws protecting unemployed individuals from discrimination. Even if you operate in a state without such protections, it’s not considered a best practice to have a policy of excluding anyone who isn’t currently employed. Check applicable nondiscrimination laws to ensure compliance.

#8: Failing to involve superiors.

Direct supervisors generally know the requirements of the open role best and will likely train and work closely with the new hire. Involve supervisors in the hiring process, and consider their input when crafting job descriptions and making hiring decisions.

#9: Failing to consider all factors.

You want to bring someone on that matches your culture and shares your company’s values. This is especially true for smaller companies where a single bad hire can have a significant impact on the business. In addition to assessing overall fit, take into account the job-related information you have obtained, weigh that information carefully, and choose the best match for your company.


Regardless of the size of your business and your recruiting budget, have a plan in place before starting the hiring process. Investing the time upfront can help you to draw from a pool of qualified applicants and make well-informed hiring decisions.

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