5 Recruiting Fails and How to Fix Them

The road to recruiting success is often paved with failures. Just like in any other industry, a small percentage of recruiters rise to the top while the majority spend their careers just getting by or leaving the industry all together. When you hear about top producing recruiters or firms that do well, what you don’t hear about is the all the failures it took to get there. Below are some recruiting failures you may experience on the road the success and what you can do to fix them.

THE FAIL: Accepting ALL Requisitions. Just as your clients need to be selective when hiring, you also need to be selective when choosing your clients. It’s hard to say ‘no’ to any client who shows an interest in your service. However, part of being successful is knowing who you are and who you serve best. It’s tempting, especially when you’re not booked to full capacity to accept new clients with requisitions outside your industry or area of expertise. If the client is working with other recruiting firms as well to fill the position, there is most likely a recruiter better suited to fill it than you. Accepting requisitions you aren’t really prepared to fill wastes time and could damage your reputation and credibility.

THE FIX: Create an optimal client profile and focus your marketing, sales and recruiting processes on attracting, performing well for and up-selling clients with that profile. Pass on the clients and requisitions that don’t fit your optimal client profile. Identify your niche market and serve them really, really well. Once you’ve mastered that, new industries, opportunities and optimal customer profiles will reveal themselves to you, and you can go get ‘em.

THE FAIL: Not Planning Ahead. It’s important to be able to predict and adapt to changing market conditions as best you can. This is especially true for staffing firms. While it’s impossible to predict everything, you should be able to easily prepare for increases or decreases in requisitions based on seasons, quarters, months or events that have affected your workload in the past. Knowing and planning ahead for these changes will help ensure you don’t leave money on the table and are able to meet your clients’ demands quickly.

THE FIX: Spend some time at the beginning of each year business forecasting and create a strategy for hiring, developing business and/or skill development based on the forecast. This will help you properly plan and/or hire for influxes and create a calendar for business development and skill development for you and your team when you have a lighter workload. You, of course, will not be able to predict everything so your strategy should have some flexibility.

THE FAIL: Perfectionism. In the fast-paced world of recruiting, perfectionism can be crippling. While you want to adhere to certain standards, do not continuously search for perfection before action. There’s no such thing as a perfect candidate. Searching for a candidate that ticks off all the required boxes before submitting them for a position will undermine your ability to deliver results and help your client achieve their goals.

THE FIX: Build strong relationships with your clients, understand their cultures and really get to know your hiring managers. In addition, invest time on the front end to go beyond the job description and really understand the requisition. This knowledge will help give you a gut feel if a candidate will be a fit for a position regardless of whether or not they’re a perfect-on-paper fit. Every recruiter needs to have a level of confidence and fearlessness that allows them submit candidates, pick up the phone or have tough conversations without waiting for all the stars to align perfectly.

THE FAIL: Poor Branding. If you try and be all things to all people, you will wind up being nothing to everyone. Clients research staffing and recruiting firms like they would research a product and will probably have formed an opinion before they ever speak with you. Your personal and firm brand needs to speak loudly and clearly to that optimal client you’re trying to attract. Watering down your unique approach or area of expertise to appeal to the masses weakens your brand and prevents you from standing out among your competition.

THE FIX: Know your strengths, your firm’s strengths and the value you provide really well, and sell it with confidence. Part of being a successful a recruiter is finding and embracing your own unique style. Build your personal or firm brand around your unique strengths, knowledge and style and make sure your website, social media profiles and other messaging reflects them. Not everyone is going to like you, but having a strong brand means you will attract clients that are a good fit for you and end up with more fruitful, long-lasting relationships.

THE FAIL: Not Learning from your Mistakes. You may not experience the success you envisioned immediately. Blaming your lack of success on market conditions or factors beyond your control will not make you more successful. If you don’t use your mistakes and failures as learning opportunities, they will be of no benefit to you, and you will not be able to push yourself to the next level.

THE FIX: If you don’t land a client or successfully fill a position, take some time to evaluate your strategy and ask for feedback on why it didn’t work.  Take responsibility for failures and identify three or four things you can change or do differently the next time. Run a win/loss analysis within your CRM or Recruitment Management system and search for commonalities among your wins and losses to get a big picture of strategies and tactics that work and do not work. Create a strategy to minimize or fix your weaknesses (reasons for losses) and enhance or highlight your strengths (reasons for wins).

Every success story includes failures. What makes you successful is the bravery to face your failures, evaluate and learn from them, and then fix them. Success is a process, not an event. It takes patience, analysis and hard work to get it right, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you will reap the benefits.

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