Top 10 hiring mistakes - #1 - not a plan in sight

Here it is: the Number 1 hiring mistake...and potentially the one causing the most issues for any business.

Going for a bushwalk into an area you have not been before without a map and proper preparations is akin to trying to blow up jelly with dynamite: it’s pointless and potentially dangerous. The most skilled bushwalkers have a map, compass, provisions and equipment to prepare them for any eventuality that confronts them when hiking through unknown regions.

The same can definitely be said when hiring, where the most unprepared and unplanned often come unstuck. Yet, significantly, most businesses do not have that plan in place when it comes to hiring and tend to go into hiring woefully unprepared.

Alongside the preceding 9 mistakes, the lack of a plan creates some real issues for a business and its susceptibility to making bad hiring decisions. These include:

  • Financial cost or rehiring, re-orientation, re-training, re-advertising and potential legal costs
  • Poor staff morale
  • Loss of potential and current customers and new business opportunities
  • Damage to brand
  • Strain on HR or the HR function
  • Workplace toxicity
  • Further time and labour costs in rehiring and covering the bad hire

Which will lead to significant out-of-pocket costs that no business of any size can afford.

If you want to see why getting the hiring right, and planned thoroughly is important, just think if you want to have all these costs and loss hitting your business. If you are heading into a hiring process, and there is one or more steps that are missed or brushed over, it will mean the difference between a quality hire and a costly fail. Additionally, if that plan is not incorporated into overall business strategy, the possibilities of a bad hire impacting business growth via the above hits are staggeringly high.

Thing is, poor hires are those done off the cuff. Usually after some emergency has hit the business (see #9 – Panic Hiring), employers want or need to cover the gap as quickly as possible. This is catalyst for bad hiring decisions, and the lack of a proper plan – heading into the hiring bushwalk without the map, compass and provisions – is probably the most dangerous (and let’s be honest, dumb) action a business can conduct.

Why does this happen? For one, it is the preconceived idea that planning and working through that plan is time consuming, and not worth the hassle. I mean, really, going into a lot of detail to make a hiring decision hardly seems worth it right? Well, let me put it this way, if the only cost in the hiring process is time, you have come out in front. Because as sure as water is wet will a poorly planned and executed hire surely come back and bite you where it hurts.

Another reason is pure ignorance. A fair majority of people who do hiring are not aware of the issues getting it wrong can do to a business and blissfully dive into a hiring activity with nary an idea what to keep an eye out for that could be potentially problematic for them. It’s not until something happens that they realise they have well and truly stuffed up.

Above all, and a common thread throughout the Top 10 Hiring Mistakes; it is complacency that drives poor hiring habits. The second hiring is seen as a bother, or apparently easy to do, or not worth investing time to get it right, is the moment it falls apart.

Hiring needs time, it needs a plan and it needs care. Planning gives a structure that even the most inexperienced employer can follow. When the greater majority of businesses are small or medium and may not have a dedicated recruitment arm much less an HR one, it is important that a structure be in place to allow those charged with hiring the best can do so effectively. Mainly, though, it avoids missing crucial elements that will impact overall decision making and lead to those bad hires…and navigating that dense forest becomes an easy and achievable task.


Scott Brown

Scott Brown

Principal at Scott Brown Recruitment

Hi, I'm Scott. I am a recruitment expert and small business hiring consultant with over 14 years industry experience. I started my business in 2009 as a pure recruiter, but have morphed it into a consultancy on internal hiring. I love small business and I love what I do, as it really sits well with my passion for the people side of any business. On top of that I am a blogger / writer and speaker on hiring within small businesses.

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Phil Joel

Phil Joel , Director at SavvySME

Thanks for sharing Scott. I totally agree with your article. Failing to plan is planning to fail as they say. It's so difficult to undo a bad decision once the hiring mistake is made. It ends up creating all sorts of tensions in the business!

Wendy Huang

Wendy Huang , Full Time Blogger and YouTuber at A Custom Blog in 4 Minutes

Good point, actually I heard that replacing someone can cost more then a yearly salary worth of training etc.

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