Common Candidate Prospecting Mistakes to Avoid

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when hiring is sitting back and waiting for candidates to come to you. You can post open roles on your company website and popular job boards but that doesn’t always mean the right person for the job will apply.

If you hope to make a slam dunk hire, you should actively search for great candidates. There are many people out there who are already employed but open to hearing about new opportunities. Many of these “passive candidates,” as they’re commonly called, are so talented that they don’t need to peruse job boards and send off resumes. They’re accustomed to being recruited by companies that are impressed with their background.

If you haven’t done so yet, you should get in the game and start prospecting candidates. Just be sure to avoid these mistakes so your efforts pay off.

Searching for candidates in the wrong places

The obvious place to find passive candidates is on LinkedIn. You can use the search function to find people who work in your industry or have the skills you’re seeking. But the problem with prospecting on LinkedIn is you have to compete with all the other companies that are searching for similar candidates.

There are plenty of other ways to prospect candidates that your competition may overlook. For example, online professional communities are great places to find candidates for specific roles. You can check out Dribbble for designers, StackOverflow for tech talent and Inbound.org for marketers, to name a few.

However, the downside to online professional communities is they may lack local candidates. Another great yet often-overlooked place to source talent is conferences or Meetup groups in your area. You can send a member of your recruiting team or the hiring managers to these events and ask them to find passionate people to pitch the role to.

Using the wrong messaging when contacting candidates

Once you find a great candidate, you need to make a favorable first impression. You should craft a personalized message that describes the position, your company and the benefits of being an employee. You should also include what exactly about the person impresses you so they know how they can add value to your company if hired.

That means you should avoid sending generic messages or using language or terms that don’t resonate with a candidate. It’s not a bad idea to have the hiring manager review your outreach message to ensure you’re speaking the candidate’s professional language, especially for technical roles or positions your recruiting team might not be familiar with.

You might also want to avoid asking the candidate to complete your online application in your initial message to them. You should assume they’re busy and used to getting messages from recruiters. The better approach is often to ask them to speak on the phone so you can further pitch the opportunity. If they sound interested by the end of the conversation, then ask them to formally apply.

Forgetting to follow up with candidates

Convincing an outstanding candidate to join your company can be a long endeavor. You might connect with someone who is interested but not ready to change jobs right away. Perhaps they’re finishing a project in their current role or have a vacation on the horizon.

If you can wait to fill the role or have another position the candidate may be suited for, you should keep checking in with them every few months. Remind them that you’re still very interested and ask them if their circumstances have changed. You’ll start to build a relationship with them over time and they can grow to feel like they’ll be appreciated working for your company.

On the flip side, don’t continue to pester someone who has told you they’re not interested or hasn’t responded to your first couple of messages. If the person has a change of heart, they might think to apply to a company that has already reached out to them but not if you annoyed them first.

Providing candidates with a poor interview experience

One of the worst things you can do is find a great candidate, convince them to come in for an interview and then provide them with a poor experience. You’re certainly allowed to interview them as you would any other candidate but you should already be familiar with their background from the previous conversations. Avoid asking them questions they’ve already answered or basic questions about their ability to do the job.

Strive to instead have a conversation about their interest in the position and what they would do if hired. You can reference what initially impressed you about them, like you did in your outreach message, and find out how they would apply those skills or initiatives for your company.

Even though interview experience is important, don’t coddle the candidate and treat them like they’re a shoo-in for the job. The interview is your opportunity to confirm they’re as outstanding as you thought or maybe learn that they wouldn’t be the right person for the job after all.

Discover great candidates through prospecting

While not prospecting at all is a big hiring mistake, the blunders listed in this blog post can make it an ineffective practice. Put in the time and the right effort and you’ll likely find talented people who wouldn’t apply to your company otherwise.

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Erin Engstrom does outreach and marketing for Recruiterbox, a recruitment software that helps small- and medium-sized businesses ditch email and spreadsheets and conduct all their hiring activities from a single, easy-to-use system.

Erin Engstrom

Erin Engstrom does outreach and marketing for Recruiterbox, a recruitment software that helps small- and medium-sized businesses ditch email and spreadsheets and conduct all their hiring activities from a single, easy-to-use system.

erin-engstrom has 52 posts and counting.See all posts by erin-engstrom

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