Top 5 recruitment mistakes and how to avoid them

How do you avoid hiring pitfalls when expanding your business? By Sam Rice from Applause IT Recruitment.

What does recruitment mean to you? Does it mean an exciting journey to find the perfect candidate to fill your vacancy or is it a process that you go through on auto pilot and find it anything but enjoyable?

It should really be the former but for many growing businesses, particularly SMEs, it is the latter. This is the case especially when recruiting in an area you aren’t really savvy with. Below you will find the top 5 mistakes SMEs make when it comes to recruitment and how to remedy them.

1. Inaccurate or vague job specifications

This ties in with what we mentioned earlier about not being savvy with the job role you are recruiting for. Another reason, heaven forbid, is that many of you reading this believe that by not being too specific you will gain an employee who is more of a Jack of all trades. If you have specific vacancy you need a specific candidate for that role. They can become a Jack later on through in-company training.


Complete clarity is vital. List the job title, the skills and experience you are looking for and then the day to day tasks involved in this position. This not only gives an air of professionalism in that you know exactly who you are looking for but helps potential candidates tick off boxes as to whether they completely meet your criteria or are lacking in some areas. In turn this means you will get applicants who have what you are looking for. Result!

2. Wrongly advertising the vacancy

It makes sense that the more places you advertise your vacancy the better choice of candidates you will get; right? You’d be amazed! Quantity does not mean quality and you are opening yourself up to those who have to apply for a set number of jobs a week or lots of unqualified candidates from across the globe. You don’t really want to spend hours sifting through that pile of CVs for your executive position from people who just don’t have the skills, qualifications or experience to do even the very basics of the job.


Advertise only in those areas that will attract the kind of candidate you are looking for. Don’t post on Facebook; post on Linkedin. Look for industry forums and recruitment websites which specialise in the area you are seeking staff. Reach out to bloggers in those sectors who can help you reach your target audience.

3. Not checking references

Hands up who hasn’t bothered checking references because that person has come across so well in the interview and seems to have all the experience and qualifications you are looking for? Reality check, stats have shown that as many as one in three lie on their CV’s.


Employ competency measures into your interview process based on the tasks they will be undertaking in the role. Check all references and, depending on the type of business you are running, order a DBS check. You never know what is lurking behind that confident facade, and why put your business at risk?

4. Looking for that ‘perfect candidate’

If you enter the recruitment process thinking the perfect person is just waiting for you then you could end up being disappointed. Placing too much focus on job specs can make you overlook personality, and the two need to work together for a cultural fit.


Take into account personality and how they will fit into your business and the team already in place. SMEs often have small staffing levels so everybody needs to share a common goal. Ask questions about your business, somebody who cares will have done their homework and answer with enthusiasm. In short a team player is a must.

5. Rushing your hiring process

This is a major crime when it comes to recruitment. By needing somebody yesterday you are likely to choose the best of a bad bunch rather than the right person for the job.


Work out a hiring strategy and stick to it. Choose carefully where you are going to advertise the vacancy, carefully think about the personality and skill-fit of an individual when embarking on the interview process and take your time. Don’t panic if after a week you haven’t found who you are looking for. Look over your advert to see if any amendments can be made and repost them so they go to the top. Be patient and the results will be worth the wait.

Sam Rice is a senior digital recruitment consultant at Applause IT Recruitment

See also: Avoiding bias in recruitment and promotion – Cornerstone OnDemand’s Christine Chenneour outlines how to eliminate bias in recruitment and promotions to create equal opportunities for their workforce.

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