The Five Worst Recruiting Habits

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Carrying a heavy RockIt seems like in any profession, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a newbie, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of bad habits and lousy tactics.

Habits are worse than mistakes, as they doom us, much like our friend Sisyphus here, to an endless cycle of failure.

Experienced recruiters know what works for them, and what doesn’t – but that finesse also makes them susceptible to getting too comfortable and locking themselves into a set of habits. Fresh recruiters on the other hand think they know the ropes and get too cocky, too fast – usually losing their placements because of incorrect negotiation tactics, job misalignment, or relationship issues. New recruiters generally make mistakes, seasoned recruiters fall into bad habits. Mistakes become habits over time if they aren’t corrected.

So if your recruitment strategy  has gone soft and you’re just going through the motions, or if you’re trying to recruit blindfolded with your fists up – here’s a refresher course on some of the habits most likely to hold you back.

Five of the Worst Recruiting Habits

  • Setting the wrong tone: Communication is the cornerstone of any successful sale or transaction, whether it’s through email, face-to-face, or over the phone. If you sound unenthusiastic when you communicate, hiring managers and prospective candidates are going to think you just don’t care. If you’re new to recruiting and you already sound unenthusiastic, you may be in the wrong profession. Veteran recruiters have more of an excuse for this bad habit because their reputation precedes them, but they still need to step it up when making first impressions. As a recruiter, you have to be positive. Remember, you represent opportunity.
  • Not Listening Enough: Recruiting is two parts listening, and one part talking – so stop blabbering. You’ll learn more by listening and you’ll be able to hear sales close themselves.Great recruiters know when it’s time to shut their mouth and stop selling, and start moving people through the door. Recruiters that push the sale too hard, or sound too excited make people nervous. Candidates and clients just picture you oozing right in front of them – whether you’re in person or over the phone. New recruiters sometimes listen well, as they are told to shut up and not betray their ignorance. Experienced recruiters can talk about the industry, jobs, their own experience, etc… it’s easy to start talking too much.
  • Not understanding who/what you’re looking for: If you don’t understand the industry or position you’re recruiting for, you won’t know who to look for and your job advertisement will draw in the wrong sort of people. Sometimes great recruiters get sloppy, or they just aren’t excited about a job requisition. In this case, a poorly written advertisement or lackluster phone call only deter the right kind of candidates. Remember the zeal of the beginner – always look up the position, research the industry, and do your homework. Don’t let your ability to “talk to anyone” be an excuse for not learning anything new about your jobs and your profession.
  • Focusing on the wrong tasks: Spending too much time needling away over administrative tasks or coaching your candidates is not a productive use of your time. Ineffectual recruiters find time to burn on everything but making more placements. Common amongst new recruiters as well as their more experienced counterparts, these recruiters need to reset their professional priorities. Always keep on eye on your own activity metrics and focus on the most productive ones.
  • Using the old bait and switch:Perhaps the worst bad habit next to not listening, bait and switch involves dishonest tactics, doublespeak, and ambiguous phrasing to persuade candidates on various positive aspects of a job while obscuring certain unpleasant truths. This habit is frequently used by fresh recruiters who don’t know any better, but they ultimately give everyone else a bad name. It’s also easy to slide slowly into this habit as you advance in tenure and experience. With time, strong recruiters develop a tremendous ability to communicate and use relationships to their advantage. It’s easier to steer conversations, know what details to gloss over, and what aspects of a company or hiring manager to obfuscate. Make sure that you are (of course) being honest, but ensure that you aren’t making light dishonesty (white lies, personal manipulation, etc..) part of your daily routine.

There is an old quote by W. Somerset Maugham, “An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.” It is an unfortunate reality! The longer you let bad habits sit, the harder they will be to change – so make sure you are paying attention to what you do on a daily basis. It’s the things we do most often that shape our lives and professional success.

By David Clough