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Four common recruiting mistakes to avoid

Rikka Brandon Recruit + Retain

The dawn of a new year always brings the feeling of fresh starts and new opportunities. What better time to set goals for improving your company’s recruiting and hiring practices?

The good news is, you can start small by simply recognizing some of the ways your current systems might be putting up roadblocks and turning off good candidates. These pieces of low-hanging fruit are easy to remedy yet may make a big difference in the number and types of applicants you receive.

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  1. USING THE TERM “SALESMAN” Just as words like “clicker” and “Davenport” have become outdated, so have “craftsman” and “salesman.” These job titles sound antiquated and can even come across as offensive. Advertising for a “salesman” rather than a “salesperson” or “sales rep” may be read as sexist to potential female candidates, or any forward-thinking person for that matter. It may send a message that your company isn’t welcoming, even if that’s not the case, possibly turning them off and keeping them from applying. Often, this is simply unconscious bias and lack of awareness, but when we know better, we do better—and now you know that there are much better words for it.

Also: Female candidates are not likely to be searching for the term “salesman” in their online job hunting. Feel free to use the word in a list of keywords at the bottom of your posting, but don’t lead with it and don’t make it the job title.

  1. USING A JOB DESCRIPTION AS A JOB AD I’ve touched on this before in previous columns over the years, but it happens enough that it’s worth bringing up A job description is an internal tool that helps you define what the job entails and how performance will be evaluated. A job ad is a marketing tool that not only describes the position in an enticing way, but sells the company and the opportunity. In other words, job descriptions are a bit ho-hum and long, while a job ad needs to be snappy, enticing, and to-the-point. They are not interchangeable and shouldn’t be treated as such.
  2. LIMITING YOUR JOB POSTINGS Unlike the days when classified ads in the newspaper were the No. 1 place to find a job, today there is a diversity of opportunities through which to advertise your open position. Make sure you’re utilizing all of the potential outlets that make sense for each individual role. For most positions, both hourly and salary, field and office, websites like are a definite must. From there, seek out places where your target audience is most likely to look. For corporate roles, LinkedIn posts and ads are an ideal addition. For executives or hard-to-fill sales positions, a recruiter with a bigger database might be a faster option. For hourly and trade jobs, Craigslist is a good choice, and you may even seek out local trade schools and career centers for entry-level positions. And don’t forget to post it to your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Also consider breaking out of your comfort zone a bit: Alert key contacts and customers, and even family members, via a personalized email with a link to the job listing; you never know who might know someone who is perfect for the role. And take advantage of networking opportunities, such as at local HBA events or career days at local colleges.

  1. IGNORING THE NEEDS OF MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z No matter what you’ve heard, many Millennials and older Gen Z men and women are driven and determined. But they’re also looking at careers very differently than the generations before them. We’ll dive into this in greater detail in later columns, but in the meantime, some mistakes to avoid when recruiting today’s twenty-somethings include having out-of-date or nonexistent technology tools, not promoting flexible work schedules and work-from-home opportunities, and forgoing any emphasis on work-life balance.

No matter what 2021 brings, your employees remain your greatest assets. By getting a head start on overcoming common hiring missteps, you can help ensure you’re building a team with the best people possible.

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Rikka Brandon is the leading recruiting and retention expert for the LBM industry. She’s the CEO of and founder of where she helps building products business owners and leaders solve their recruiting and retention challenges with strategy, best practices, and access to experts.


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