Why Recruiting Is Sales

By Conor McMahon - Nov. 14, 2022
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Recruiting is sales for a variety of reasons. Just look at the job description. When you consider the role and responsibility of a recruiter, along with their required skill set, they look nearly identical to any sales agent. All that changes is the product. As a recruiter, you are selling an opportunity.

Key Takeaways:

  • Recruiting is sales because you have to make a “double sell” where you sell the candidate on the company, and the company on the candidate.

  • Recruiting, like sales, requires a strong set of interpersonal skills, such as communication and empathy.

  • Internal recruiters focus on selling the company to the candidate.

  • Independent recruiters also have to sell their brand to land opportunities.

  • It is important to remember that people are not products. Be mindful of this human element.

Why Recruiting Is Sales

Why Recruiting Is Sales

Recruiting is sales because as a recruiter, you have to sell the position in question. In fact, you have to make a “double sell” to two parties:

  • The candidate. You have to sell the candidate on the position you have to fill. That means you have to convince them that it is a better opportunity than all other options.

  • The company. You also have to sell the company on the candidate. You have to convince the company that the candidate is the best choice to fill the position.

On top of that, recruiting is sales because as a recruiter you will receive a commission, or some other kind of compensation when you successfully fill a position.

Therefore, recruiters share many similar skill sets with salespeople. Recruiters must have a strong collection of interpersonal skills. Recruiters must also be proficient in time and project management.

How the recruiters use these skills vary depending on whether they are an internal recruiter, contract recruiter, a recruiter for a firm, or an independent recruiter.

Recruiting is sales if you’re an internal recruiter

It’s your job to find the best talent to work for your organization.

But the best talent will usually be presented with other opportunities – not just yours. And it then becomes your job to convince them that the position in your organization is the best one for them.

Convince them = sales

You can’t just rely on the fact that a well-crafted job ad or your employer brand will get that ideal candidate across the line. After all, it isn’t your employer brand doing the ‘courting’. It isn’t your employer brand painting the picture of their future career path within the organization. And your employer brand can’t answer all those critical questions from a candidate faced with two amazing offers.

That responsibility lies entirely on your shoulders.

Recruiting is sales if you’re a contract recruiter

As a contract recruiter, you are selling yourself and your expertise to an organization that might be weighing up between bringing you on board and bringing on a full-time recruiter.

For whatever reason, you decided to become a contract recruiter as opposed to sticking with the security of an in-house role. And more often than not you will find yourself selling to the very same person whose position you could have had.

They may now feel threatened by you and you’ll find yourself having to negotiate your rate and justify why they should bring you in.

Negotiating and justifying = sales

Recruiting is sales if you’re an agency recruiter

This one’s pretty obvious, since for the most part agency recruiters are measured by KPIs involving (sadly) cold calls, and other business development activity.

Business development activity = sales

The role of a recruiter is to sell their agency’s brand to prospective clients; they would be selling their expertise and credibility to candidates and potential customers; they would be selling candidates to clients, and opportunities to candidates.

Also, sometimes the hardest sell is to their colleagues sitting right alongside them. After all, if they had a great candidate but no role, or a fantastic opportunity but no candidates, perhaps their colleagues would be able to help them out.

Surely a colleague would be happier to make half a fee by splitting it than to lose the candidate to a competitor. Right?

Sadly this isn’t always the case.

Often the hardest sell of all in agency land is to your peers!

Recruiting is sales if you’re an independent recruiter

Perhaps you’ve just left a big agency behind you and you’re a recently liberated recruiter. Or maybe you’ve had your own independent recruiting business up and running for a while. Whatever stage you are in, you always have to grow your business.

You’re probably out networking all the time (that’s sales); you’re more than likely always asking clients and candidates for referrals (that’s sales), and like your former self in agency land, you’ll always be selling your expertise and credibility to candidates and prospective customers.

The only difference is you don’t have that big brand name behind you and you’re now selling yourself. Your brand, and often that’s the most important sale of all.

Your brand = sales

Why Recruiting Is NOT Sales

Recruiting is not sales because people are not products to be sold.

This is an important distinction to keep in mind as a recruiter. Although for the most part, recruiting is sales, the human element of the profession must be respected at all times. You have to be mindful that the person you are “selling” may have many more factors in their life they have to consider.

Acting with this respect makes you a better recruiter. Not only will you be more prepared, but your respectful manner will be appreciated by candidates. This may even be the little touch a candidate needs to be convinced on the position.

Conor McMahon is a writer for Zippia, with previous experience in the nonprofit, customer service, and technical support industries. He has a degree in Music Industry from Northeastern University and in his free time he plays guitar with his friends. Conor enjoys creative writing between his work doing professional content creation and technical documentation.

Author

Conor McMahon

Conor McMahon is a writer for Zippia, with previous experience in the nonprofit, customer service, and technical support industries. He has a degree in Music Industry from Northeastern University and in his free time he plays guitar with his friends. Conor enjoys creative writing between his work doing professional content creation and technical documentation.

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