I'm a Recruiter. No, a Salesperson. NO, a RECRUITER!

I’ve always thought of my profession as sales. Always. I started recruiting in the early days of the internet, where training was basically “wanna buy a chicken? No? How about a duck?” until I got my hands on some Danny Cahill Placement 2000 VHS tapes.Ahhh then I was in the money. So when an article over on Recruiting Daily was making the rounds on Facebook I was intrigued.

Kyle Lagunas would have us question the assumption that recruiting is indeed, sales. In his post Think Recruiting Is Sales? Think Again.

He enlightens us to a new product offering from SAVO (you’ve probably never heard of it. Or at least make me feel better that I haven’t) which does something analytical making stuff better, or something.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love technology, but I am always a little skeptical of software or solutions that promise to make recruiting easier/faster/more engaging. It seems these shiny new toys always come with unintended compliance consequences that actually give me MORE work to do that has very little with the main part of my job – connecting with Clients and Candidates. But I digress… the question here ultimately is this – Are Recruiters Salespeople? Allow me to share with you a day in MY life, and you tell me.

I sell a conversation. Hey Ms. PhD – don’t you just love research? Get out of academia and talk to me! What? Never considered a big company like mine? It’s just a phone call…. Oh, and this is happening on both sides. Mr. Hiring Manager, you gotta talk to this one. You’ll thank me later I promise. Persuasion and influence are elements of a sale.

I sell opportunity. I know Ms. PhD, you never thought you’d move to the west coast, but here’s WHY it’s good for your career/family/future. Remember when we talked about your hot buttons? Here’s the benefit. Coaching people through the emotions of “buying” something is another sales element.

I sell future results. Hey Mr. HM, remember Mr. PhD? Based on what I found out during our call(s), I think we can expect to see X, Y, and Z out of her in the next 18 months. Lines up nicely with your business objectives we discussed, doesn’t it? Illustrating value = another sales approach.

Good gracious we’re not even to an interview yet and I just sold my ass off. We have much further to go my friends, but do you see where I’m headed with this? I don’t care how smart my software is, or how savvy my ATS becomes. These human touch points on both sides of the relationship are SALES. I’ll even go so far as to say recruiting is one of the most DIFFICULT sales jobs there is. Cars can’t decide the potential owner is an asshat. Houses don’t decide to relocate at the last minute. Even those selling tangible services can usually guarantee a 98% chance of the TV turning on, the phone ringing, or software loading.

Not us, dear ones. We’re dealing with personalities on every side of this deal and they all have opinions on what’s in it for them. It’s our job to coach, motivate, persuade, cajole, influence, inspire, entice, guide… all for the purpose of CLOSING A DEAL. And you think I’m not salesperson?

Show me a fancy software solution that does all that. Then I’ll be impressed.

Views: 1703

Comment by Linda Ferrante on April 4, 2014 at 8:59am

Great article!  I often struggle with this concept because while I KNOW recruiting is all about sales, I've often been told I'm not a good sales person.  Now that I'm more seasoned, I agree.  Here's why:  I don't 'sell' in the traditional used car salesman type of way (open the trench coat, whadda ya need?).  My selling is consultative in nature.  What's your problem?  Can I help solve it?  Regardless of the answer, I'm 'selling' the client on either using us or not using us.  I guess a 'real' sales person would simply sell on using us....

I think selling in the recruiting field gets a bad rap because not every 'recruiter' understands the nuance of our type of selling.  You can't try to talk someone into something they aren't interested in.  It will fail.  Newby's tend to push because they haven't learned how this works yet.  Eventually some will, but not all.  The problem is the ones who don't get it are the ones that give us a bad name.

The art is in knowing what, why and when to sell.  If you don't get that, it won't work.  A good recruiter knows those things.  That's what makes us good!

PS.  I had a conversation with someone yesterday that went like this, "I can come recruit for you, I know a ton of people looking for work!  I can give you their name and you can pay me a fee for each one."  People, that's NOT recruiting.

Comment by Keith Halperin on April 4, 2014 at 12:05pm

AAANH! Call it "dog-sitting" for all I care!

As Shakespeare would have said:

"An engineering candidate by any other name would smell as vile...."


Comment by Amy Ala Miller on April 4, 2014 at 12:19pm

@Lisa I thought your comment was spot on. Smug?? Hardly. Was his response stompy foot whiny? Yep.

@Kelly I have an unnatural fear of a Terminator like Skynet future. Robots you say? *shudder*

@Linda I'm not so good at sales either. :) Even though I had many "best" years in corporate recruiting (as in biggest biller) I never thought was a good sales person. I'm not a good cook either, but kids gotta eat so I learned to kick ass at both. My signature dish AND sales style might not be what you would call fine cuisine, but we ain't starving and that's what really matters.

@Keith - exactly. :)

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on April 4, 2014 at 12:19pm

^^I meant agency recruiting, not corporate :)

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 4, 2014 at 2:44pm

I am sorta thinkin i could find a software that would replace him a lot faster than his software would replace me.  See there is this thing called "candidate experience"  anybody heard that word before?  Can your software smooze my candidate or my client?  "you dont' have to be an artist to create art".  Nope they teach elephants to paint but it's more a curosity than art.  these kids are exactly that in my book, "a curosity".  Take it into clinical trials in the real world yourself and see how you get along in a sales driven industry.  Sales is a lot more than closing the deal.  Maybe some good sales training would teach this one how to present his product without pissing off his potential customers.

Comment by Recruiting Animal on April 8, 2014 at 12:07pm

This is the video I thought you would use - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnrdetFAo1o

Comment by Ashley Zito Rowe on April 8, 2014 at 2:58pm

Amy, to add to your point about "It’s our job to coach, motivate, persuade, cajole, influence, inspire, entice, guide… all for the purpose of CLOSING A DEAL," I think there's another related element, people skills. While not every person, recruiter or salesperson, may have this ability, I think it's one of the many important elements of being effective in recruiting or sales. Both deal with so many people on a regular basis and like you point out, you have to be adaptable and perhaps likeable to the people you're encountering to earn their trust and business.


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