The crucial first step in any recruiting process

08 August 2023 Sharyn Waterworth

The crucial first step in any recruiting process

​About to start recruiting? Whether it’s a new role or an existing vacancy, whether you intend to use a recruiter or manage the end-to-end hiring process yourself, there is one crucial step we see hiring managers forget about time and time again when it comes to their recruitment process…

And overlooking this step has big ramifications:

  • It can slow down your entire hiring process

  • It can make it more difficult for you to attract top talent

  • It can add challenge to candidate interviews

  • It can lead to losing ideal candidates at the final hurdle (the job offer)

Hopefully, you can see why it’s a simple mistake I’d very much like to help you avoid!

So, what is this mistake? It all boils down to this: Hiring before you’re ready.

Before you start advertising a job you likely have a clear picture of the basics like who the role will report to, where the role will be based and who the team member will need to collaborate closely with.

But you should also have the following - often forgotten - information clearly outlined (and if you don’t, here are some questions you can ask yourself to get your hiring process started on the right foot):

Essential job skills vs. ideal job skills

When it comes to job advertisements, you need to clearly understand which requirements are "must-haves" and which are "nice to have."

While we all want to find that unicorn that possesses every skill and trait we could want in an employee, the reality is that person is difficult to come by and even more difficult to win over, especially in today’s candidate-skewed job market.

We’ve seen time and time again that “hiring for attitude and training for skills” incredibly fruitful way for employers to approach hiring decisions.

So make sure you’re crystal clear on which areas of a role you’re happy to train on the job versus which are essential requirements from day one.

This will help to minimise the chances of underqualified candidates applying for the role whilst also ensuring you aren’t missing out on great potential candidates in pursuit of that mythical unicorn hire.

What’s your company culture

“Company culture” might sound like a HR buzzword but we can assure you, it’s not.

It’s no secret that a toxic work environment can quickly escalate and negatively impact your company’s reputation. According to research from Robert Walters, 73% of professionals have left a job because they disliked the company culture.

On the other hand, having a healthy company culture will do wonders for your reputation, especially when it comes time to attract top talent. Instead of headhunting, your company's reputation and credibility can do much of the hard work for you.

As a starting point, it’s essential that you’re able to articulate your company culture throughout your hiring process - from the job ad to interviews and final job offer negotiations.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask yourself: What values underpin your company? These values will be reflected in the people you hire, the policies you enforce and the practices you uphold.

Need more of a helping hand? Read me: Why the culture of your company is more important than you think


You likely already know the salary you’re able to offer for a role you’re trying to fill but what about other kinds of incentives and bonuses?

It’s useful to remember that throughout your hiring process, you’re “selling” the job that’s on offer just as much as a candidate is “selling” themselves in arguing why they’re the right fit for the role.

Candidates - especially top-tier ones - are likely to want to negotiate the total package on offer, which could include aspects like bonuses, remote work, flexible hours, amount of annual leave, professional development opportunities, and other benefits, so make sure you’ve considered this upfront.

If you’re not sure what incentives you can offer, here are some thought-starters you could consider. By thinking about these options upfront, you can communicate what incentives are and aren’t able to be offered throughout your hiring process, encouraging top-quality candidates to apply because not only is it clear about the scope of the role but it is also why a candidate should want to work at your business.

Interested in more HR and recruitment tips? Click here to keep reading.