Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement, a sales and marketing executive search firm based out of New York City. He is also a writer for Forbes. Follow Ken on Twitter @Ken_Sundheim.


The theory that recruiting great employees is highly difficult is true, but what if your firm was making the recruitment process more complex than it had to be?

Almost 1 out of every 4 decisions that a small to mid-size company will make during a recruitment process will hinder their chances at staffing competitive talent. The consequences of these actions can result in a myriad of ill-fated outcomes ranging from higher salary costs and wasted time to losing competitive applicants altogether.

Firms that are unable to streamline the staffing process on a regular basis are probably prone to committing one or more of the following 6 deadly sins of recruiting:

1) Not Following the Google Rule of 5:

Up to a few years ago, Google would have employees go through a 12 – 14 meeting process. This would result in dreadfully long staffing cycles, loss of top talent to competing internet companies and overall inefficiency when attempting to recruit employees in the masses.

In 2011, Google switched its recruiting approach to limit each applicant to 5 interviews. If Google can hire an engineer in 5 interviews, there is no reason why your firm should not be able to hire your personnel in 3 or 4.  Prolonged time is the enemy of great recruiting.

The more time an organization lets a candidate linger, the more time that individual has to get another job offer, receive a raise or go back to school. Also, when you let a candidate at the final round of an interviewing go out to other companies, they tend to interview with more confidence and become more desirable. When you find an apt job seeker, losing hiring momentum is a sin.

2) Searching for that Perfect Candidate:

We tell clients that shopping for candidates is like shopping for cars. The more requirements they have, the more you pay and the fewer choices you have.

In 10 years of recruiting, I’ve never seen the perfect candidate. I’ve seen a solid candidate write the perfect resume, but am yet to see the “perfect” candidate. Perfect candidates are not hired. Rather, they are molded through leadership and training.

Look for potential today and determine whether they can be the perfect candidate tomorrow. We recommend you analyze the future earnings power of that individual rather than where they stand at the given moment. What an individual achieved yesterday will not yield any revenue. What they can do tomorrow can make all the difference in your organization.

3) Crossing the Line from Under Compensated to Under Appreciated:

Some clients whom we work with have a corporate culture of making low initial offers to candidates. This is intended to cushion any financial blow that a counter offer may bring. While this sounds good in theory, there is a breaking point. Once an offer dips below a certain number (typically anything equal to or less than they are currently earning) that candidate feels under appreciated, under valued and highly insulted.

The psychologist and philosopher William James once wrote to a student:  “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

You can’t renegotiate someone’s ego.

4) The First Choice or Nothing Scenario:

Whether it’s football, business, chess or just about anything else, life needs contingency plans. A mistake that our recruiters often prevent companies from doing is to not pick a second option. When hiring, firms aren’t always going to get their first choice – the smart ones have a 2nd place.

The companies who have trouble are the ones who start the search process from the beginning hoping to find another #1. Often they come up short and waste an extra 3 months while doing so. It’s a fact: Candidates will get other jobs, decline offers or stay where they are. Nothing ever goes 100% smoothly when recruiting and sometimes your contingency plan will turn out to be a gem.

  1. Not being able to sell the job:

Part of recruiting is selling. If a hiring manager can’t make a job enticing, they won’t attract top talent. We’ve had clients that have tried the approach where they attempt to scare an applicant by telling them every undesirable aspect of a job only to find that the candidate doesn’t want to stick around for the good parts.

When staffing employees, you should be selling in an honest manner, touching on the negatives, but also focusing much on the positives of the job.

7) Using too many recruiters:

Often, firms will go out and hire a dozen contingency recruiters to represent their firm. From their perspective, the more the merrier.

What’s alluring is that they only pay on performance which seemingly mitigates risk. Sounds great until a firm realizes that they have 30 or 40 cold-calling recruiters whom they don’t know nor have they spoken to poorly representing their company to potential talent in the open market.


Sometimes, we are our own worst enemies and sometimes it’s the small mistakes that make all the difference. Since recruiting is an imperfect science, we must strive to extract any additional difficulties from the process.  Have a plan, keep in the mind what you should not be doing and enjoy a more productive, intelligent and competent workforce.