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7 Flawed Recruiting Tactics to Avoid

by | May 26, 2017 | Recruiter Training, Top Echelon Blog

Gone are the days of mailing in resumes Monday morning after perusing the help wanted ads in Sunday’s paper, and gone are the days of smile-and-dial recruiting. The use of technology has provided both the job seeker and the recruiter an unprecedented opportunity for connection.

In today’s job market, the candidate is more in the driver’s seat than they’ve been in several years. As a result, recruiters need to ditch some of the old, ineffective methods they may still be clinging to, or worse, some tactics that have been wrong from the beginning. Even with the best HRIS software money can buy, your clients will have a hard time hiring, onboarding, and retaining candidates that come from a fundamentally mismanaged process.

In this article, we’ll look at seven flawed, although common, recruiting tactics and explain why your agency should avoid them.

1. Being Vague to Be Vogue

Today’s job seeker or passive candidate is creating their own career. Whether it’s moving jobs every few years or starting a side hustle, people aren’t sitting around waiting for the next best thing to come along. This means messaging like “. . . position at a Fortune 500 company in a large metropolitan area looking for someone with your background. . .” doesn’t cut it anymore.

The “mystery job” in a “mystery city” at a “mystery company” no longer sounds like some elusive, almost out of reach, career Mecca. It’s vague and annoying. Candidates have no time for this game. They want to hear it straight — all the details, with as much information as you can provide as quickly as possible. Today’s candidate expects transparency.

2. Mass Messaging

Nothing says, “You’re just a number and I have a lot of positions to fill” like a mass emailed message. Keep in mind that candidates, active or passive, don’t care how many positions you have to fill, or that you’re really busy. All they know is that they’ve received an email that sounds like it might have been for them, but then again, maybe not. Take the extra effort to personalize your messages, especially to those passive candidates who are more likely to ignore a mass send.

3. False Competition

Creating a false sense of competition by insinuating that there are truckloads of other candidates up for the same position is poor form. Recruiters will sometimes go radio silent, or drag out the process by waiting days to respond to emails/calls to make the candidate think they’re less of a contender, even if they’re practically the only candidate in the running.

If there really is stiff competition for the role, it’s fair for the candidate to know. They can judge for themselves if they feel up to the challenge. But creating a false sense of competition to control pacing or to misconstrue the role is shady at best. The candidate will eventually discover the smoke and mirrors. Strong, honest communication is always the best recruiting tactic.

4. “Post it and They Will Come”

Today’s candidate market demands that you are more specific about what you’re looking for. Before you post a position, or go out looking for candidates, be absolutely sure that you have defined and documented your ideal candidate profile. Rather than posting a job and hoping to be flooded with potential candidates, then sorting through them to find one who “feels right,” know who you’re targeting and go after that specific person.

5. Inviting Social Media to the Prescreen

To pretend that social media isn’t part of the recruiting process is ridiculous; it’s a huge part of the recruiting process. But be careful that it isn’t invited to the prescreen, meaning that it’s not being used in place of interacting with a candidate directly. It shouldn’t be used to make snap decisions or pass judgment on what someone is really like, and if their qualifications and skills match what you’re looking for.

6. Unofficial Reference Checking

In some industries and smaller cities, people are incredibly well networked. If you receive a resume from a candidate and you immediately recognize that you know someone they do or have worked with, it can be tempting to reach out to them to find out some “backstory.” In these cases, not only would you be getting a one-sided, biased opinion, but you’re also violating the candidate’s privacy.

7. One-Dimensional Job Descriptions

For years, job descriptions were a one-dimensional summary of the job duties and role requirements of a position. Companies are now realizing that the job description itself is a sales tool — a way to highlight not only what’s great about the position, but the company and their environment as well. Job descriptions should be written in a way that sells the candidate on the idea of working for your client’s company. Highlight how they would have the opportunity to utilize their skills, what their career path might look like, or the bigger vision the company stands for that an applicant might also identify with.


Open, honest communication is the key to recruiting in today’s market. Job seekers expect transparency and look for deeper connections, both to their work, and to the broader purpose of what their employer is trying to accomplish. It’s important to find ways to personalize your message and help candidates see themselves as part of a potential employer’s environment while also painting a clear, realistic view of what that might look like.

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

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