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Top 10 recruitment mistakes small businesses make

05 April 2018


Many small businesses lack the necessary resources to recruit in-house. But, instead of turning to an external recruitment specialist, because again, resources are sparse, they make do with the skills they do possess to bring on board new employees. So often this leads to small businesses making common recruitment mistakes that can hinder their business long term. 

Mistakes are never made on purpose, but its important that small businesses identify their recruitment mistakes, learn from them, and start to build an effective recruitment process. Here we outline ten common recruitment errors that small businesses make. 

1. Hiring the first person you meet

I hear so often that people hire the first person they meet as part of an interview process. Yes, that person might have blown you away, and might eventually be the person you do hire, but it is always worth meeting other candidates. If anything, it allows you to build up a database and network of contacts that possess the skills you desire for particular job roles, especially if they are specialist roles.

2. Not getting back to unsuccessful candidates

Firstly, it’s rude. If someone has taken the time to apply for a position with you, the very least you can do is maintain basic communication. Secondly, it has the potential to seriously damage your employer brand. Most online recruitment advertising platforms have the facility to send a group ‘rejection’ message, so do utilise this if you're using this method. Too often I see posts on LinkedIn from disgruntled candidates naming and shaming companies who don’t get back to them.

3. Not being clear about what you want

If you aren’t clear on what the role is that you need filling, and you don’t know what specifically you need from a candidate I can guarantee you things will go wrong somewhere down the line. Expectations need to be clear from the get go.

4. Not having some structure to an interview

A casual ‘chat’ with a potential candidate can seem like a great idea, especially if you are a small and quite casual business. However, the problem with this is that you won’t really be able to verify what the candidate says they can do. Without some basic structure, and ‘drilling down’ into the detail you could miss vital information. For example, I once had a client that hired a PA who was apparently brilliant at interview, yet she had never used Excel in her life – a vital and necessary component of the role.

5. Taking ages to make a decision

The polar opposite to mistake number 1. If you dilly dally with your decision, you risk losing your candidates. Good candidates get snapped up quickly, so if you don’t want to miss out, get back to them as soon as possible.

6. Making promises you can’t keep

It can be tempting to promise the world to an awesome candidate, however this will almost certainly come back and bite you. So please sit on your hands if you feel the urge to offer a different commission scheme or much higher salary than agreed in the advert. Remember that any offer and acceptance of terms is likely to constitute as a legally binding contract.

7. Withdrawing an offer

Once an offer has been made and accepted it is ill advised to withdraw an offer of employment on a whim. This is why you should ‘sleep’ on any decision before you make a formal offer of employment.

8. Not sending out a formal offer letter

Most candidates who are already in employment will be reluctant to hand in their notice without a formal offer letter from you. The formal offer letter will typically include; the job description, salary, any benefits, and the date that employment will start.

9. Not checking right to work documents

It is so important that you check before offer that your candidate has the right to work in the UK.  Please make sure you do the relevant checks, and keep the appropriate records. 

10. Not planning an induction

You might think inductions are for the corporates, but they are incredibly important regardless of the size of your business! A simple but well thought out plan of your new employee’s first weeks and months will help them feel settled and confident in their new role. If you're in need of some inspiration, take a look at these great examples of employee inductions.

If you are guilty of some of these recruitment mistakes, its important to realise the lasting effect they can have on your organisation. In isolation they may seem insignificant, but with the skills shortage being a top concern for small businesses, ironing out the creases in your recruitment process could make all the difference.

Recruitment guide


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