5 Ways to Avoid Making a Desperate Hire

Don't let a bad hire happen to you. Follow our five hiring best practices to help ensure you don't end up making – and regretting – a desperate hire.

As most hiring managers can attest, few things cause more headaches than choosing the wrong person for a job in an act of hiring desperation.

First, there's the time (and resources) you spend trying to acclimate the new hire. Then, there's the adverse impact that an underperformer has on your creative team. Finally, when the time comes for you and the bad hire to part ways, you're left right where you started.

Desperate Hire Warning Signs

Before we get into how to avoid making a desperate hire, let’s see if any of these warning signs ring true.

  1. You're beyond busy – too busy, in fact, to even look at the resumes in your inbox.
  2. And when you do look at resumes, you're overwhelmed. How are you going to assess each candidate's skills, expertise and experience?
  3. Because you're short staffed, you and your team have been working long hours to compensate.
  4. Subsequently, team members are showing signs of low morale.
  5. Stress and exhaustion are shortening everyone's fuse. You're thisclose to hiring the first person who walks through the door.

And then comes Jack ...

Spotting the Desperation Hire

Say you need a web designer for a pressing project and can't find someone with precisely the right skills – except for Jack, who seems to have mastered Adobe Creative Suite, CSS and HTML, as well as a number of other pertinent software. Jack's technical expertise is so impressive and hard to come by that you're willing to overlook the fact that he showed up late for the interview and checked his smartphone throughout your conversation. 

What should you do?

Stop! Here are 5 Tips to Avoid Making a Desperate Hire

  1. Be proactive. In other words, don't wait until the last minute. Be prepared and flexible to meet future staffing needs. While a last-minute hire can't always be avoided, you can be prepared the moment you catch wind of a new project or staffing need. Use resources like current employees for referrals, social media sites like LinkedIn for vetting individuals' skill sets and creative recruiters for access to qualified part- and full-time candidates.
  2. Don't overlook past resumes. As you receive resumes – even unsolicited ones – begin to build a database of potential hires. Then, when the moment arises and you need to find a UX designer, like yesterday, you can filter through the promising resumes you've already reviewed. Chances are if candidates were interested in the past, they may be interested now. If not, they may know someone who is.
  3. Know the hard-to-fill positions. Stay up on creative hiring trends. Is everyone talking about how difficult it is to find qualified web designers? Do you keep reading about the need for content strategists? If so, evaluate whether you need (or will need) these roles on your team. Even if your need isn't immediate, it's wise to start building an awareness arsenal of potential candidates. That way, when your CMO comes to you and says, "You're right. Let's rebuild our website," you'll be prepared.
  4. Try before you buy. Don't let an urgent need blind you to a flawed candidate. If you're in a bind, buy yourself some time by hiring someone on a project basis. You may even find that your freelancer is interested in working full-time, allowing you to find someone who's both tried and true.
  5. Rely on experts. If you feel stressed, short on time and overwhelmed by the thought of assessing candidates' skills, use an expert. Creative staffing firms employ expert recruiters who not only understand the industry and hiring landscape, but also have access to top creative talent that may never come in contact with your job description. Plus, they'll evaluate candidates for you so you can focus on running your team.

Keep Cool and Hire On

In order to avoid making a desperate hire, you have to think like you're hiring, even when you're not. Know the current market and hiring trends, then be prepared to say no to the right skills if the right fit just isn't there. Hiring takes time. If you're short on it, and desperate not to make a bad hire, get in touch with a creative recruiter. It's their job to make yours easier.

Related post: Avoid Employee Turnover: How to Tell If You’re Losing a Top Performer

Tags: Hiring, Retention