Why Recruiting is a Contact Sport—and Why You’re Losing


HR Practices

Recruiting is one of the most important processes in your organization. So why aren’t you taking it seriously?

Yes, I mean you.

Most organizations don’t take their hiring process seriously. Then they wonder why they end up with a lot of shoddy hires who don’t pull their weight, take too long to train, and leave the organization before they even turn into a worthwhile investment.

If that’s your organization, you need to do better. Recruiting isn’t just about getting bodies in seats. It’s not about filling cubicles. It’s not about hiring the most charming candidate on the list.

It’s a contact sport, especially these days. You need to get in there. You need to fight dirty. You need to move the ball forward and push that thing into the endzone.

You think the best candidates are just waiting around for you to pick them up when it’s convenient? Well, they’re not. It takes leg work and it takes drive and it takes putting in the hours necessary to bring in those top-value hires who will win the game for your organization.

So what’s the failing game plan most organizations use? Post and pray.

Let’s get into it.

Post and Pray

You already know about post and pray. If you’re not guilty of it yourself, you’ve seen it done. It’s a great strategy if you want to drive an organization into the ground.

You know how it goes. You write up a job description that doesn’t actually give the candidates a clear idea of what they’ll be doing. You post that job description to all the typical job boards all the other companies are using. And then you pray that you’ll somehow end up with the right candidates.

And how often does that work out for you? If you’re like the rest of us, the answer is somewhere between “not very often” and “absolutely never.”

Again: do you really think the best candidates are sitting around in front of their computers, desperate to send you their application? Well, they’re not, and they never will be.

So maybe you think, “You know what? It’s just that I’m not getting enough applications. Maybe if I hire a few contingency recruiters I’ll be able to rake in all the top candidates I want.”

So you do that. And then what happens?

I’ll tell you what happens: those contingency recruiters take that same old generic job description to those same old job board sites, and they post and pray too.

Which means they end up getting all the same applications from all the same candidates you already got applications from. Those same average Joe candidates who are busy slapping the same old application onto every job posting they can find.

You know the ones. The ones who obviously don’t bother reading the job description before applying. The ones with resumes so full of typos it makes you wonder if they even graduated middle school. The ones who aren’t going to be top performers for your organization.

Who will not move the ball and get it into the endzone.

Maybe you’re wondering what you should do, instead of just posting and praying. Three things.

  • Hiring Goals and Job Descriptions

If you’re going to win the game, you need a solid game plan. That means setting clear and realistic hiring goals. What hard and soft skills are necessary for the role? Not “nice to have,” but necessary.

It’s important to be realistic here. The perfect candidate doesn’t exist. So when businesses try to hire the perfect candidate, they end up hiring a middle-of-the-road candidate just because they like them the best.

When if they’d set realistic hiring goals, they’d have recognized the candidate who was actually the best for the organization. But they didn’t, and now the business is hurting as a result.

So: set realistic hiring goals.

  • Interview Practices

One of the biggest problems with interviewing is that people end up hiring the candidate they like the best, instead of hiring the right candidate.

They do this for two reasons. The first is a lack of clear hiring goals, which we’ve already talked about. The second is that they don’t have an objective way of evaluating which candidates are the best for the position.

This doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be an assessment. It could be a point system where all of the interviewers compare their judgments on the candidates. It could be a lot of things.

The point is that you need an objective way of determining which candidate to actually hire.

  • Executive Recruiting

So let’s say you’ve done all these things and you’re still not bringing in the right candidates. Who can move the ball forward for you now?

Talk to an executive recruiter instead of a contingency recruiter. That means settling on one recruiter and paying in advance, yes. But it also means your recruiter will move heaven and earth to get the right candidate for you.

If you have hiring problems and can’t solve them on your own, the first step is admitting that you can’t solve them on your own. Get in touch with an executive recruiter you can trust to get the ball moving forward.

About the Author

Jeffrey Audette is the President of VMG Recruiting.

With over 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them to find the talent they need.

You can learn more at VMGT.com or contact Jeff at jeff@vmgt.com. 


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