Thinking I’d found a hidden gem – Hidden gems don’t exist, especially not in an industry as talent hungry as tech. If the candidate is in a dead end job, never held a job for more than 9 months or never made it past an entry level position, there’s a reason for that. Sure, everyone can make a career mistake or two, but ignoring a clear pattern is like dating a person who’s cheated on all their ex’es and thinking you’re going to be their one true love. No, you don’t need to have something like singlehandedly launching Facebook for me to hire you (Marc, if you’re reading this, we do have job openings) but you should have some successes on your resume, some promotions to show off and least a few wins to tell me about.
Gambling on a possible superstar – Sure, that kid without a lot of applicable experience could turn out great but they can also turn out really bad, and what are you going to do then? Your employees reflect on you and your choices will determine your career. Do you really want to stake your career on a gamble? Go for the sure(er) thing. It’s better to be consistently good than inconsistently amazing. Also, if you really like someone without a lot of applicable experience then find them an entry level position that doesn’t require a lot of experience. It’s better for both you and them.
Incorrectly set expectations – The worst thing you can do is lie to a prospect. Even if they end up accepting the job, you’re going to end up with someone who’s unhappy from day one. Be honest about both the challenges and the rewards. Set the stage correctly, tell them what you expect of them and what you want to see delivered day 1, 10 and 100. The candidate that hears that and wants to work for you is someone who will thrive in your environment. And if you’re having issues finding that candidate, you may want to consider some changes to your work environment…
Not asking requirements up front – You spend days and weeks trying to make sure a candidate is just right and when it comes time to talk numbers, they tell you about some requirement they have that’s completely unrealistic. Check out salary, work from home flexibility, start date, stock options, benefits and all the other requirements up front. It’s better to be disappointed at the first screening than after you’ve told your boss that you’ve found the perfect candidate.
Not getting a verbal yes to a verbal offer before going to a written one – Written offers take time and going back to see if you can up the salary makes you seem like a used car salesperson. Negotiate verbally up front, get that verbal yes and then put everything in writing. Again, way better than going to your boss and asking them to approve yet another offer letter.