We’re all human, and full lifecycle recruitment within the government contracting space takes someone who is organized, thick skinned, and motivated to get contracts staffed.

Sometimes plates are filled so full, balls are dropped, and it’s only natural that you make a recruiting mistake.

5 Recruiting Mistakes and How to Recover

Here are five cleared recruiting mistakes, how to recover from making them, and preventative measures to put in place so they don’t happen again.

1. Listing the wrong name or job description when communicating with candidates.

It’s easy to do as you copy and paste communication to send to multiple candidates within a sourcing platform. After you’re proofreading your messages to candidates after you hit the send button (one of my big red flags), you notice you forgot to change the name between a few, or you send them the wrong job req altogether.

RECOVERY: Recall / resend the email if you can, note your idiot mistake and make a joke if you can’t, or make light of the situation with a “I wouldn’t respond to me, either.”

2. Ghosting your candidate… and remembering 6 months later.

Both dreaded amongst candidates and recruiters, no one likes to be ghosted and not know the reason why. Let’s say you’re working a big proposal effort and submitting key resumes – only when the contract is awarded you start to secure incumbents. Years may have gone by at this point, and your candidates you submitted with your RFP response may not even reach out to inquire on the award (lots of candidates throw out their resume to multiple companies trying to win many contracts).

But this candidate you spent weeks emailing, explaining your company benefits, and talking about the work to pops up when you’re sourcing candidates with a similar background.

RECOVERY: I would still reach out. You need a candidate, and you need to salvage your reputation. Note that managing multiple proposal efforts and communications with candidates is a tough feat, but that their background can still be a huge asset to the organization on a better suited position that might meet more of their personal needs.

3. Stealing a candidate from a teammate or other internal recruiter.

Poaching is still an issue in this industry where the talent pool doesn’t equate to the amount of openings in national security. But stealing from a teammate on a contract or a recruiter that is a part of your team can feel very personal.

RECOVERY: Ensure you are using the notes or comments sections within your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) including if a candidate is currently working for a teammate on a contract. If you find yourself in this situation, offer up a candidate of yours and make the connection with the recruiter you stole from.

4. Disclosing the wrong benefits to a candidate.

Benefits and an overall compensation package are critical for a candidate to evaluate an offer on jumping ship from their current gig. This came up recently when a reservist was asking a recruiter about PTO benefits for them to do drill and other duties. As a recruiter, you need to be an expert on exactly what your company can offer so they don’t enter their first day upset about the money they could potentially lose out on.

RECOVERY: Recovery is tough on this one if you don’t make these decisions in the first place and you have an employee who is super salty with being misguided. Talk with leadership and HR about your mistake and see if there is any wiggle room with perks.

5. Failing to handoff in a succinct fashion.

Handoffs from recruiting to team lead interviews to final offers with HR to start dates need to run smoothly so the employee experience is maintained. If a candidate falls through the cracks and they don’t feel supported, it can be hindsight 20/20 that they leave six months later.

RECOVERY: CC everyone for visibility when it comes to handoffs, and overcommunicate with your candidates and internal business units.

Lastly, not communicating with candidates who join the company and leave, but who might be a potential boomerang employee.

PREVENTATIVE MEASURES for Common Recruiting Mistakes

Call out your mistake with your BFF recruiter, ask them to remind you of this mistake in one-month intervals, write a reminder on your office white board, and set a weekly calendar appointment for you to pay special attention to detail as you mentally note all of your recruiting mistakes. Many of the recoveries in these scenarios require letting go of pride and voicing the mistake in the first place. Get it out in the open and address the issues head-on and you won’t find yourself in the same position anytime soon.



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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸