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6 Recruiting Tactics That Just Don't Work

Nicole Fallon

Recruiting employees isn't the same game that it was decades ago. Instead of making cold calls and direct-referral requests, people seeking talent now have a whole host of technological tools and social networks to help them find the perfect candidate.

However, along with these advancements has also come a major shift in the job market dynamic. Job seekers have the upper hand, as companies looking to hire compete with one another for the cream of the crop. Employers who haven't recognized this and adjusted their approach risk losing out on the talent they need to grow their business.

Business News Daily spoke with recruiting and career experts about outdated and otherwise ineffective tactics for finding job candidates.

Mass, impersonalized messages

For passive candidates — that is, those who are not actively looking for a job, but might be open to a new opportunity — recruiters may need to work a little harder to get their attention. There are plenty of channels through which you can contact them, but whether you use email, LinkedIn, Twitter or another platform, entrepreneur Keith Cline said to steer clear of mass, impersonalized communications.

"If you want to engage with the best talent, you really need to take a personalized approach," said Cline, who founded recruiting firm Dissero and media site VentureFizz. "The likelihood of the person responding back to a personalized message is much higher." [See Related Story: Hiring in the Digital Age: What's Next for Recruiting?]

A requirements-only job description

If you were a job seeker, which type of posting would you be more interested in: one that included a simple bullet list of job duties and requirements, or one that offered a colorful, vivid description of the work environment? The latter is the obvious choice, and yet Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter, said he sees a lot of employers writing flat, skills-focused job descriptions.

"The most successful companies on ZipRecruiter's platform attract quality applicants by promoting company culture and employee experience rather than focusing entirely on skills and requirements," Siegel said.

Siegel emphasized the importance of marketing your workplace to candidates through your job description by describing benefits, working environment, proximity to restaurants or services and company values.

"The goal of workplace marketing is giving candidates the means to truly envision themselves working for your company," he said.

"Post and pray"

Because today's job market is heavily in favor of candidates, the old method of posting a job opening and assuming the right candidate will find it simply doesn't work anymore. John Fleischauer, manager of global talent acquisition at Halogen Software, a provider of employee performance and talent management solutions, said that instead of relying on the "post and pray" method, hiring managers should define their ideal candidate prior to launching their search.

"Measure all candidates against that standard," Fleischauer said. "Ineffective recruiters and managers measure candidates against each other and roll the dice that the best of the bunch is actually the best for the job. Recruiters should have a laser focus on what to look for in potential employees."

Prescreening a candidate via social media

Social media has become an important part of the modern hiring process. Recruiters and employers frequently use social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to locate ideal candidates and check out their work history and current career activities. As helpful as social media can be in evaluating someone, it's poor form to rule out an otherwise-qualified candidate based on his or her social profile before you even speak with the individual, saidJoe Weinlick, senior vice president of online career network Beyond.

"It's hard enough to get hired without worrying about social media influencing opinions up front," Weinlick said. "It's good practice to check out candidates' social media profiles, but you must also form your own opinion by talking to the candidate personally before you turn to social media. Technology can't replace the human connection needed in the hiring process."

"Back door" references

Conducting a background and reference check on potential candidates is always a good idea. Honest insights from third parties will either confirm or challenge your first impression of a person, and perhaps even reveal a legitimate reason to look elsewhere.

If you work in a very highly connected industry and/or geographic location — the Silicon Valley tech scene, for instance — you likely know a few people who have personal ties to the candidate in question — people who he or she did not include on the reference list. It may be tempting to quietly contact these individuals and get inside knowledge about your candidate, but Danielle van Asch-Prevot, CEO of Talented Recruiting, strongly advised against this approach.

"[Places like] Silicon Valley are small microcosms where everyone knows someone," van Asch-Prevot told Business News Daily. "Often, hiring managers leverage these relationships and perform 'back door' references by asking ex co-workers or friends about a candidate's character and work style. Not only is this a violation of a candidate's privacy, but the reference is chosen based on his or her relationship to the hiring manager, as opposed to the candidate."

Ignoring your existing workforce

When you're looking for new talent to join your organization, don't forget about your most important source of information: your current employees. You might have a top-notch recruiting strategy, but if you haven't focused on making your existing staff happy, you won't be able to retain those new hires for very long.

"Create and foster an environment that people want to work in and your top talent will begin recommending your organization to members of their network and others they know from the industry," said Matt Brosseau, director of information technology at Instant Alliance, a workforce solutions provider.

The opposite is also true, said Brosseau: If your organization becomes known as one that is difficult to develop in or has other undesirable qualities, your own staff may become a force that keeps other talent from joining your organization. 

"The best bet your organization has of attracting the very best in your industry is to become the type of work environment that passively attracts the very best," Brosseau said.

Ready to start your recruiting process? Check out Business News Daily's guide to attracting the best candidates.

Image Credit: Gonzalo Aragon/Shutterstock
Nicole Fallon Member
Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.