Thanks to the latest internet boom, companies are growing and there's incredible demand for individuals with digital skills sets.

That's good news for those looking for digital marketing jobs, but it is creating numerous recruiting challenges for companies.

Whether you're looking for a web developer, a social media marketer, or a salesperson, if you're in a digital industry in a major market, competition is fierce and chances are that finding the next great hire is a daunting task.

Unfortunately, companies often shoot themselves in the foot by making big mistakes during the recruiting process. Here are 10 such mistakes companies should seek to avoid.

1. Not moving fast enough

In today's ultra-competitive recruiting environment, many companies will realistically have a limited time to evaluate a candidate and make an offer. If your company's recruiting process is too slow, there's a very good chance that your most desirable candidates will have other offers in hand before you complete your process.

2. Moving too fast

Time is of the essence, but don't rush the recruiting process too much. As more and more companies deal with the challenge of finding the next great hire, some will inevitably want to move quickly, especially once they see someone good get away. But there should be a balance: moving too fast can actually be worse than moving too slow because the costs of making a hire that doesn't work out can be so significant.

The best way to move expeditiously but not too aggressively is to prioritize recruiting and to map out a plan before you start a search. When you do this, you're far less likely to be caught off guard when a great opportunity presents itself.

3. Failing to set clear expectations

At every step of the recruiting process, it's important to set expectations so that the candidates you're interacting with know the score. At a minimum, this includes letting candidates know what your timeframes are for conducting your search and making a decision. It can also be very helpful to place details about the offer (compensation, benefits, etc.) on the table up front to ensure that there are no disappointing surprises on either side.

4. Limiting your search to the 'perfect' candidate

Looking for someone with top-notch skills, a killer CV and the ability to make an immediate contribution to your company? You're not alone. Just about every company is hoping they'll discover the 'perfect' candidate. But competing for the most desirable free agents today is not a game for the faint of heart and many smaller companies simply can't put together the type of offers that larger firms can in terms of remuneration.

In many cases, a better strategy is to seek out a great prospect -- a potential employee who may not be the total package, but has skills, an ability and eagerness to learn, and the desire to grow with your company. Yes, such employees require investment, but an investment in employee development is often one of the best investments a company can make.

5. Applying the wrong filters

When it comes to identifying promising candidates, it's all about the filters you employ. Unfortunately for employers, there are many filters which are easy to apply in a less-than-helpful way. For instance, years of experience requirements are frequently set without much thought, oftentimes by somebody in HR who may not have an in-depth understanding of what's really required to handle the responsibilities of a particular job.

To ensure that the right filters are in place, it helps to ensure that the person who will be managing a new hire is sufficiently involved in the recruiting process.

6. Focusing too much on culture

Culture can be an important part of a company -- one that should be taken into consideration when hiring a new employee -- but be careful: if your company's culture is too strong and too big a focus in your recruiting, you may find that you're casting a net that's far too small. Keep in mind that your primary objective is to hire somebody who can get the job done and help your company move forward, not to find someone who you'd enjoy going to lunch with.

7. Selling the wrong things

You don't have to be a huge company with a lot of cash to find and hire quality people. But if you're competing against the big boys, it helps to take stock of your company's best attributes and make sure those are part of the sales pitch. Make no mistake about it: money, benefits and perks are generally important, but for a lot of employees, those aren't the end alls and be alls. So if you're a smaller company with an interesting story to tell, or a different perspective, be sure to use it as a selling point.

8. Not checking out CVs and references

Verifying the accuracy of a job candidate's CV and checking references can require effort, but it's an important part of the recruiting process that should not be skipped. Just ask Yahoo.

9. Indulging in too much negotiation

In the most competitive markets, potential hires are in the cat bird's seat and they know it. This can encourage candidates to negotiate offers heavily, in some cases playing multiple prospective employers off of each other.

That may be smart and pragmatic on the part of the would-be employee, but it's generally wise to limit negotiation. At the end of the day, the person you're trying to recruit knows what you bring to the table (because you've set expectations and sold the right things). If that isn't enough by a wide margin, engaging in negotiation is rarely a useful exercise for anybody.

10. Not allowing hiring managers to trust their gut instincts

Recruiting new employees is a difficult task, and for good reason: it's arguably a lot like betting because until a new hire starts, there's really no way to know if the relationship will work out even if you have done everything right. 

With this in mind, it's worth considering that although many companies try to make the recruiting process more objective than subjective, allowing a hiring manager to trust a strong gut feeling can be a very smart move.

Patricio Robles

Published 30 July, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (6)

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stanley rao

Agree these are the mistakes that most of the organizations do... these suggestions can be of a great help to them and lead to a better system in their organization

about 6 years ago



I'd add to that Not Knowing What You're Looking For. I interviewed with great company well known in another market sector that wanted to expand and the interviews were basically consulting roles.
While I could have sold myself to them, I had jitters immediately having worked with a biotech startup that had founded itself in innovation, new culture & ideas and then turned around and hired all the old school cronies that couldn't adapt to new strategies and technology. All the polish in the world can't make aluminum into gold. Some idiot sold them on ancient technology in a pretty new coat (lotus notes, a cumbersome old database program that takes 10 people to tweak and their idea of mobile apps was a free QR reader (last month!). The result has been lackluster performance and lots of internal bickering, back stabbing, blaming and nepotism. Had the folks they hired been willing to step outside their comfort zone and learn new systems, they would be flying high, instead their plagued by old vs new. Trying to get them on the SM bandwagon is pointless...they have no idea what it is or how to integrate different departments in the SM arena. Marketing fighting for total control w/out seeing the value of scientist, distribution, commercial markets and managed care contributions as part of the total strategy.Suicide Ship!

For those of us with a dynamic diverse skill sets, we're ALSO interviewing... YOU! And many of us aren't in a huge hurry to take a sugar coated job that turns out to be laced with anise. I can stay home and keep building my knowledge base until I see the diamond in the rough that gets it.

about 6 years ago



Very good article. Being the inhouse recruiter for a small agency I would echo all these points. I would also add not giving feedback to candidates is a mistake many companies make. When you interview a candidate you are giving them an impression of your brand, if they don't receive feedback they will quite rightly feel their time has been wasted and be left with a negative perception of your company. And people talk.

about 6 years ago


Mike Kennedy

Good post Patricio but I would suggest the last point needs clarification. A strong gut informed by objective data that identifies how the candidates matches a benchmark of top performers is incredibly useful in the recruiting process.

I also agree with the comment above that "Not Knowing What You're Looking For" is a HUGE mistake. This ties into my 'gut' comment because what one person's gut says does not necessarily match a second person's. So whose do you trust? Instead, agree with what the role requires, then use objective data to identify how the candidates match to the 'ideal' - what a top performer would look like. Then use this as one data point to inform a strong gut, rather than relying solely on your intuition.

Having objective data enables smaller organizations to compete with larger firms for the same high quality candidates, so I would suggest not include analytics to be mistake #11.

about 6 years ago


Tom Fordham

So many companies could benefit from following each of these points as a great starting point. However, a recruitment process also needs to be dynamic to suit each business and each scenario. This is a process which evokes a lot of emotions from both parties and you need to understand what either one is feeling at each time to be able to keep the process moving in the right way. It's equally important for the candidate to get the interview and process that they value and will encourage them to take a role as it is to ensure a client has the confidence that they are making the correct decision and have all the necessary information. As much bad press as I know recruitment agencies get and at the risk of being a bit self PR-ish, having an intermediary can be a real benefit in avoiding these mistakes.

about 6 years ago


Steve Simpson

This was a great read, I thoroughly did enjoy this article, one point I would strongly stress is the part of the selling the wrong things. There are many cases when companies do not highlight themselves or what they have to offer enough! It simply just makes their lives harder if they cannot sell themselves

over 5 years ago

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