Recruiting is Sales not HR

If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that recruiting is a sales profession. We spend our life changing the lives of the candidates we represent for the better. We also help our clients hire the top talent that allows the company to achieve goals. But, to be extremely successful at this career, you must embrace the fact that recruiting is sales.


I entered this profession because I loved people and wanted to make a difference. However, my approach was more “customer service” or “social worker” and I was not successful. The people I initially “loved” frustrated me when they changed their minds or priorities. I even began to question if I could succeed in the Recruiting Profession. Not wanting to “throw in the towel” I enrolled in sales and negotiation training. I then created a repeatable sales process and have placed over 10,000 people in jobs, throughout my career.


I’ve interviewed, hired, supervise and trained thousands of recruiters worldwide. Potential recruiter often say they want to become a recruiter because they “love people”. I explain the challenge of having people on both sides of our process. If they don’t have sales experience or want to sell, we discuss other careers they might find more fulfilling.


Recruiters must be tenacious because they hear the word “no” much more than “yes” and rejection and objections are part of their daily routine. Not to mention the gut wrenching problem areas of the job including: counter-offers accepted, no-starts, offer turn downs and no shows. These situations could wipe out someone who doesn’t have the resilience it takes to be in sales.


Recruiting is a consultative sale and nothing like the persona of a used car salesperson. I think the reason many people feel recruiting is HR is because in-house recruiters or talent acquisition professionals often work within the Human Resource Department.


IF YOU’RE AN INHOUSE RECRUITER...You often have numerous requisitions you are attempting to fill and more than one Hiring Manager expects their job to be your top priority. In a perfect world, your Hiring Manager would interview the candidates you submit quickly. The candidates would all be interested in the job and when you extend an offer, the candidate would accept without hesitation. However, you and I both know we don’t work in a perfect world.

You sell your candidates on your company and opportunity. You sell the candidate to your hiring manager to schedule an interview. After the interview, you are selling the benefits of a possible offer to both parties. Once an offer is extended, you are selling against a counter offer or other offers your candidate might be considering. Your sales and negotiating abilities are tested throughout the entire hiring process.


IF YOU WORK FOR A STAFFING OR RECRUITING FIRM…Unlike the in-house recruiter who has hiring managers providing them with open requisitions, you must sell your abilities to attract top talent to companies you have targeted. You must understand and sell how you differentiate from your competitors and how you can enhance their efforts to attract top talent.

You then sell your personal brand, track record of success and credibility to potential candidates. Throughout the interview process you are determining what is most important to these candidates to match them with the best opportunity. You then present opportunities to them and if they are interested, you sell their abilities to your hiring managers.

After interviews you are selling the benefits of the opportunity and candidate to hopefully receive an offer and compensation package. You then present the offer and close your candidate. Your job doesn’t stop there, you keep in touch to make sure your candidate hands in their notice and begins to align with your hiring manager. Your follow up after your candidate starts their new job, has a tremendous impact on the retention of the candidates you place and must be part of your repeatable sales process.


IF YOU’RE A CONTRACT RECRUITER…You sell your expertise to companies that are making their decision on who best can help them find the talent they need to hire. You then are doing the same type of sales and negotiating as the in-house or third party recruiter.

When someone asks me what I do for a living, I always respond: “I change people’s lives for the better!” I’m normally asked if I’m a teacher or psychologist. I explain I’m a recruiter who helps people make their next logical career move and find the best talent for companies. This is an amazing profession and you will be more successful if you embrace the fact that ‘sales’ is an essential part of filling more requisitions and placing more candidates in jobs.


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