5 Reasons Why Your Recruitment Strategy Is Failing

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You’ve invested time, effort, and money into designing your recruitment strategy — but you’re still not getting the results you’d hoped for.

What’s going wrong with your recruiting strategy? Why isn’t it attracting the top talent your business needs?

To help you troubleshoot, here are a few of the most common reasons why recruitment strategies fail — and how to fix the problem:

1. Using Outdated Recruiting Practices

The world is always changing, and recruitment has to keep up. If you’re still relying on the same tactics you used even a few years ago, you’re unlikely to see results. In particular, watch out for these obsolete recruiting tactics:

Prioritizing In-Person Interviews

Even before the pandemic, in-person interviews were on their way out — and with the arrival of COVID-19, virtual hiring became the default. If you’re looking to bring back the in-person interview, you might be sabotaging yourself. Ditch physical meetings and use these tips to make your virtual interviews even more effective:

Host virtual open houses: Use webinar software to recreate large-scale recruiting events in the digital realm. Virtual open houses offer a convenient way for hiring managers, recruiters, and interested candidates to get to know one another.

Give your team the right tools: Ensure that everyone involved in the recruiting process is equipped with the right technology and log-in credentials to facilitate virtual interviews. Double-check everything from hardware to software and make sure each member of the talent acquisition team knows how to leverage these resources.

Prepare your candidates: Virtual interviews are more common than ever, but they’re still new to many. Put your candidates at ease by giving them as much information as they need to navigate the virtual hiring process comfortably.

Valuing External Hires Over Internal Candidates

When new roles open up, most companies default to searching for an external hire. But hiring internally has serious benefits, including:

• A shorter hiring cycle
• Lower recruiting expenses
• Increased employee engagement
• Higher retention rates

Hiring from within offers you a more direct line to the talent you need. After all, you already know what skill sets your employees have. It’s much easier to home in on candidates who are qualified for the role when you’re recruiting from your existing team.

2. Failing to Define Your Target Audience

Recruiting is a form of marketing — and the foundational principle of marketing is understanding your target audience.

From a recruitment perspective, your target audience is defined as individuals with the particular skills, qualifications, values, and work experience necessary for a particular position. Defining your target audience before you embark on a recruiting effort is important because it allows you to:

• Craft messages that are more likely to resonate with your audience
• Look for talent in the places where your target audience is likely to be
• Create a recruitment process that addresses the specific needs and concerns of your target talent

To define your target audience, simply build a candidate persona for each position you want to fill. This is a hypothetical representation of your ideal job candidate. To create a candidate persona, you must first clearly define the role itself. Next, interview team members to get an idea of the traits, motivations, and skills the candidate will need to succeed in that role. If you’re filling a role you’ve filled in the past, you can reuse data about previously successful employees in that role. The intersection of the job description and the candidate’s required characteristics is your candidate persona.

Knowing your target audience makes it easier to build a recruitment strategy that attracts the right people — which, in turn, leads to a more productive team overall.

3. Not Focusing on the Candidate Experience

In the bid to fill a vacancy as quickly as possible, many recruiters overlook the candidate experience, focusing instead on moving candidates through the pipeline with maximum efficiency.

But candidates are people, too. If they have a negative experience during your hiring process, they won’t want to work for your company. Watch out for these red flags of a negative candidate experience:

• High candidate drop-off rates
• High numbers of unqualified applicants
• Candidates expressing confusion with your process

A negative candidate experience can have massive repercussions for all your subsequent recruiting efforts. If candidates have a bad time with your hiring process, they’ll tell others about it. They’ll share their stories on social media, and other candidates will see those stories when they research your organization. You’ll gain a reputation for being a difficult employer to work with, and top talent will stay away.

On the flip side, a positive candidate experience reflects well on your brand, making your organization a talent magnet.

So, how do you ensure your candidates have a positive experience instead? Some simple but powerful tips include:

• Use convenient application forms. Only ask for necessary information, and don’t make candidates retype their resumes.
• Use an application platform that allows candidates to save their progress so that they don’t lose their applications in the event of a technical problem.
• Host remote interview sessions instead of making candidates travel to your office.

4. Ineffective Candidate Outreach

Candidate outreach is an essential part of a recruiter’s job. That’s how you make contact with high-quality candidates in the first place.

Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have optimized candidate outreach strategies. One of the most common mistakes is sticking to a single communication channel (e.g., email, LinkedIn) to reach out to candidates.

Effective outreach requires an omnichannel approach. That helps you reach candidates on the platforms they frequent and the channels they prefer, making it more likely that talent will see your messages and respond.

As for the content of your messages, follow a few key tips:

• Personalize your outreach. Use names and reference the candidate’s professional background when possible.
• Keep the message short and sweet. Get straight to the point about why you’re reaching out, and make sure to share the benefits of taking the conversation further.
• End with a call to action that tells your candidate exactly what to do next if they’re interested.

5. Failure to Follow Up Properly

Not every candidate to whom you reach out will respond after the first message. That’s why you need an effective follow-up process. Here’s a simple three-step formula you can use:

• Send the initial outreach message expressing your interest in interviewing the candidate for the position you’re filling.
• After a few days, send a follow-up message letting the candidate know that you’re still interested in them.
• Wait a few more days and let the prospect know that you’re open for them to reach out when they’re ready.

Following up is a great way to show prospects that you value them and you’re serious about your offer. The latter is essential these days, when online recruitment scams are rampant.

The average cost of a bad hire is $15,000, which means your company can’t afford to recruit the wrong people. If your recruitment strategy is failing to deliver, it’s time to audit your process. Start by looking out for these common recruitment failures.

Neal Taparia is founder of Solitaired.

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Read more in Recruitment Strategies

Neal Taparia is the cofounder of Imagine Easy Solutions, a portfolio of online educational services that reached over 30 million students yearly. Neal sold the business to Chegg (NYSE: CHGG), where he stayed as an executive for three years. He's now pursuing a new initiative, Solitaired, which ties classical games with memory and attention training.