SmartRecruiters Blog

5 Ways You Are Scaring Away Potential Hires

If you’re trying to recruit top talent off just a regular job board site or LinkedIn, you already know that good help is hard to find. No doubt you’ve been inundated with a glut of sloppy résumés and candidates who just aren’t what you’re looking for.

When you’re talking about finding quality talent, your company is applying for a job, too: You’re applying to be the perfect candidate’s employer. If you want to get the best applicants, you need to show them that your company is the best place to work.

So, where have all the good candidates gone? They are out there, but if you’re falling victim to one of these common recruitment mistakes, you’re probably scaring them all away.

Here are five common mistakes that will lose you that opportunity, as well as, how you can correct them:

1. You advertise your job openings on generic job sites. Any time you post an opening on a huge job site, applicants know you will have tons of résumés vying for your attention. This can be disheartening because it’s difficult to know what will happen to their applications when (and if) they hit “submit” or “I’m Interested.” It also makes it difficult to determine the specific type of person you are looking for; most openings are categorized very generically under huge blanket tags, such as “marketing.”

Instead, post positions on niche job boards or community sites for your specific industry or type of business. For example, Culintro is a great online community for culinary discussion and job opportunities. The key is identifying niches that are likely to bring in candidates who are attracted to the matching atmosphere and/or community.

This strategy allows you to spend less time poring over bad résumés — or worse, eliminating chunks of applicants based on arbitrary qualifications.


2. You’ve created a submission black hole. When you use a site that forces applicants to upload a résumé with an impersonal submission form, you’re creating a submission black hole. This type of exchange leaves a lot to the imagination as far as who is vetting applications, if the decision maker will even see the résumé, or when the applicant can expect to hear back. Use a job ad that displays not only who the brand is, but also who the hiring manager is.

Quality candidates want to be an important part of the organization. If they feel like nothing but a number from the very beginning, that doesn’t bode well for their career with you. If you ask applicants for a résumé or cover letter, ask them to email it to a specific person. Have that person send each applicant a form letter saying how long the candidate can expect to wait before hearing back.


3. Your company is closed off from the world. Smart candidates will Google you. If they can’t find anything about what your company does, who your leaders are, and the type of company culture you have, how can they determine whether they’re a good fit for the job or whether yours is even the type of company they’d like to work for?

Create lots of great content, both about your company and about your industry in general. You can post it on your company’s blog, but publishing content on third-party websites gives you added credibility. Think of this as your interview. Talent will use this information to determine whether you’re the right fit for them, and vice versa.


4. You ask for lots of specific qualifications. Candidates won’t waste their time applying for a job if they don’t meet the criteria, so before you note that candidates should have three to five years of experience and expert knowledge of HTML, consider whether these are really necessary for the job.

It’s common to find candidates who meet all your criteria, only to discover during the interview (or worse, after they’re hired) that they’re mediocre at best. Maybe they stretched the truth on their résumés, or maybe they just have a terrible work ethic. On the other hand, you can probably find an outstanding candidate who might be less qualified but more motivated.

When setting your job criteria, keep only the qualifications that are absolutely necessary to succeed in the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. If it’s a learned skill, such as a specific program, consider whether it could be easily taught. Instead, concentrate on the values that are really important, such as work ethic and strong communication skills.


5. Your employees aren’t active on social media. Job candidates will probably look for your company on LinkedIn or Twitter and browse the profiles attached to your brand. If only a few of your employees are on LinkedIn, or if they don’t have completed profiles, it’s hard for candidates to decipher whether they would fit in with their future co-workers.

Looking for a new job isn’t the only reason to be active on social media. Get your employees on LinkedIn, and encourage them to Tweet and write posts for the company blog or other websites. This gives your company a human face and shows that your employees love their jobs enough to be ambassadors for you in the industry.


Many companies have fallen into the trap of believing they don’t have to work to find good candidates. This simply isn’t true. There are a lot of people looking for jobs, but this only means that you will be flooded with more of the wrong candidates. The best candidates will always have options, and you still have to work to get them to choose you.


Matthew GordonMatthew Gordon is President and CEO of The Gordon Group, a holding company that primarily manages GraduationSource and Avanti Systems USA. Gordon strives to foster positive corporate culture and empower young minds. 

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, engage candidates, and make great hires. Read more on Candidate Experience, Employer Branding and Recruiter Advice

Matthew Gordon