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Six surprising ways you’re messing up the hiring process

From a small labor pool to shrinking interest in the lumber industry, the hiring process is already hard enough without creating additional hurdles for yourself. If you’re struggling to find good candidates, to get candidates in the door, or to seal the deal with those you wish to hire, consider if you’re making one or more of these common, but not always obvious, mistakes.

1.  You’re hiring low-hanging fruit. With fewer candidates to choose from, you may find yourself taking advantage of the easiest available options. Perhaps someone has been expressing an interest in your organization and you figure out how to fit them in. Or maybe a flawed candidate is the best resume among those received. Either way, you’re possibly settling for a team member who doesn’t fit your original vision. Make sure you think before going this route— is filling the job quickly worth having to adjust your expectations?

2.  Your compensation is out of line with your expectations. This is the No. 1 challenge we see for most LBM companies. Compensation and expectations have to be in alignment for you to close the deal with quality candidates. If you have $100,000 expectations and a $60,000 budget, you’re going to think you hired a dud every time.

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3.   You’re taking too long. Time kills deals. When you don’t block off times for interviews with your hiring team, you may end up stringing great candidates along for weeks. And this can affect the candidate in a psychological way: It allows self-doubt, and the ensuing self-preservation, to kick in. They may get cold feet or talk themselves into thinking you’re not that interested. Dealers that stretch three interviews out over six weeks risk losing their first choice to other offers.

4.   You can’t clearly articulate the role and responsibilities. I’m seeing a surprising number of companies that still don’t have job descriptions for roles they’re hiring for. Candidates get very nervous when they only receive a verbal explanation of the job (perhaps they’ve been burned in the past by a hiring manager over-promising and under-delivering). It also is very limiting—if you don’t know the activity it takes to do the job, how do you know if they’re doing well?

5.  You forgot the most important acronym. Like many aspects of a sales business like ours, don’t forget to consider WIIFM—What’s In It For Me? Sometimes hiring managers are so focused on telling candidates about the company, they neglect to tell them why they’ll be happy there.

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6.  You’re not using your recruiting partners right. One of the most common ways to use a recruiter is a contingency search agreement. On the surface, this seems like a win/win—it’s the straight commission version of recruiting. But contingency recruiters are working for free, so they need to focus on searches that are most likely to make them money. While they may have been fired up when you talked to them, if your communication is poor, you drag your feet, or your compensation and expectations are out of alignment, your priority will start slipping. So, the next time you’re frustrated by the lack of results from your recruiting partner, look at the terms you’ve established. Was the relationship transactional or was it a partnership?

Many of these mistakes are not obvious, even to HR managers who live and breathe hiring every day, so take a moment to consider if one or more of these issues may be taking its toll on your recruiting efforts. Small adjustments may be all it takes to ease the process.

Rikka Brandon, a recruiter in the LBM industry since 2001, is a building products recruiter with Building Gurus. Reach her at

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