One of the hardest parts of a recruiter’s job is learning the hard truth that a hiring decision is never just a hiring decision. Recruiting decisions impact the whole company. That final decision over whom to hire has a ripple effect that travels through the company. Recommend or make an ill-matched hire, and it will trickle back to you.

That’s a lot of responsibility to bear. As a result, many recruiters find themselves working around the clock to find the ‘perfect hire.’ To do this, they often fall into perfectionist-styles of thinking. They start to think of their work in black-and-white terms — it’s either perfect or a failure.

Many content creators talk about being concerned by their perfectionistic tendencies. They find it hard to write, think and deliver on time as they are constantly worried their work isn’t good enough.

For recruiters, there’s all that and an added element of stress: the culmination of their work comes down to a single decision that can’t be easily ‘edited’ after it’s made.

Below we’ve gathered some of the best tips for avoiding perfectionism as a recruiter to help those who may find themselves constantly worried about making the right decisions. 

Remember, the less your mind is focused on getting everything right and the more engaged it is in the process, the better hiring decisions you will make.

Lower Your Expectations (In a Good Way)

An issue that might arise throughout the interview and recruiting process is the weight of high expectations. It is not unusual for human resources professionals, after months or years of interviewing applicants and recruiting new workers, to create a list of criteria they expect to see from prospects.

While this list may have some reasonable items, problems emerge when unrealistic criteria unrelated to the role creep in, especially when applied before even beginning to judge whether or not they fulfill the requirements of the positions they are interviewing for.

For instance, have you ever found yourself rejecting candidates who don’t match every single criterion?

You have got to learn that while the ability to identify the most promising prospects is certainly valuable, it should not be used in a way that sets an unrealistic bar of excellence. Keep your reasonable criteria, but remember that they aren’t set in stone. They’re guidelines to help you narrow down the hiring pool — not eliminate every candidate!

Trust Your Instincts

You should trust your instincts. 

HR and the recruiting process are very human-centered professions. And there’s nothing more human than our instinctual feelings and emotions towards other humans.

In a way, learning when to trust your instincts is an art form. A very individual art form that is learned over time. While basing decisions solely on a gut feeling isn’t the smartest option, incorporating it into the hiring decision is important.

Plus, if you feel stuck when making certain decisions, it helps you ‘get out of your head’ and progress without constantly second-guessing yourself. You’re in talent acquisitions for a reason — usually because you connect with and understand others easily. Trust yourself and avoid the perfectionist trap.

Learn to Analyze Mistakes in a Healthy Way

Mistakes aren’t the end of the world. You have to be willing to learn from your failures if you want to go forward and increase the quality of your hiring decisions. 

It may seem at odds with what’s written above, but analyzing your past work in detail, such as hiring interviews, stumbling blocks and time-sinks, can reduce the feeling that you have to be perfect to move forward. 

You’ll learn to view your job as an iterative learning process, one that moves with small steps instead of reaching instant perfection.

Think about it this way: Gallup reports that in America alone, businesses lose more than $1 trillion each year as a result of employees voluntarily leaving. At this scale, it’s inevitable that you won’t always make the ‘perfect’ match between employer and employee.

Perfectionism can often be stopped in its tracks by analyzing what went wrong and mapping out new ways of avoiding those issues in the future. Once you’ve done everything you can to learn from previous mistakes, there’s no need to overthink it. You’ve done the best you can.

Keep Communication Simple

The following formula can be used to avoid overthinking:

Efficiency and Speed > Perfectionism

Getting something done at a high standard doesn’t mean it has to be done inefficiently and slowly. This applies particularly to your internal communication processes.

For example, forbid the use of powerpoint style presentations to convey information internally, such as pitching a new hiring strategy. While colorful, engaging, and all-around beautiful slides would be nice, this would take up hours — or days — for an employee to create.

Instead, opt to communicate in plain text. It’s quicker, more efficient, and prevents employees from becoming obsessed over getting every little design detail ‘just right.’

Recruiters who agonize over every little formatting detail of a message should adopt simple communication processes when engaging with job candidates. Consider this: earlier this year, Criteria’s Candidate Experience Report revealed that more than half of all job candidates surveyed had given up during a recruiting process as a result of poor communication.

A quick way to help remove the need for endless little tweaks and decisions is by leaving a post-it note on your computer that reads: “Content is primary. Design is secondary.” Read it often.

Practice Forgiveness

As an recruitment professional, you (hopefully!) see people as they are: only human. And you recognize that humans make mistakes. When it comes to small mistakes, such as a misplaced comma or an email sent too early, you forgive people quickly.

However, pause for a moment and ask yourself: “Why don’t I practice the same level of forgiveness for me and my work?” If you show others kindness and respect for not achieving perfect results all the time, why can’t you show the same to yourself?

Learning to forgive yourself is a big step toward reducing perfectionistic thinking. Plus, it gives you a clear mind to begin implementing how to analyze your mistakes in a healthy way.

Forgiveness is vital for this process, as if you look at your previous work and you’re blinded by your perfectionistic thinking, you’ll find yourself stressing and worrying about the past, as well as the future!


The simplest advice is often the most effective. Take a breather, refocus and get back to work without worrying about the little things.

Then, step back and remember: it’s okay to leave little imperfections behind and focus on the things that matter—their essence—the things that affect the final result. Knowing when to declare “that’s good enough!” is an essential skill in preventing perfectionism from controlling your life. Learn to keep things moving forward, as it is crucial for generating results and pushing oneself to greater heights. 

Aleksandra Sulimko

Aleksandra Sulimko is the CHRO at TheSoul Publishing and oversees the HR department. She brings her expertise from her previous work at Exness, an international award-winning financial brokerage company, to strengthen the HR function within day-to-day operations. Additionally, her team supports each business division to improve employee well-being, empowerment, and development. TheSoul Publishing is the award-winning digital studio and one of the world’s most prolific and popular online media companies that produces entertaining, positive, and original content for a global audience.