By Jessica Miller-Merrell 


I’ve always been of the opinion that even though we are in the recruiting and HR industry, our profession resembles other industries in many ways. I’ve talked before about how similarly aligned we are with marketing, and how we take some inspiration from IT with our use HR technologies. However, there’s another area of the business that we resemble maybe more than anything else, and that is sales.
It might seem funny to say such a thing when HR has traditionally been thought of as the anti-sales department because our industry was long seen as a cost center, not a revenue generator. That may have been true 20 years ago, but today’s recruiters make a real impact on the company’s revenue success with the people they bring in. More importantly, they truly are sales people themselves. 
No matter how you slice it, recruiting is a sales activity. Just as a sales person is generating leads, cultivating relationships and following leads to make a sale, we are sourcing and qualifying our prospects to fill open job requisitions before we submit our best candidates to our organizations. Candidates truly are our customers, and they have a buying decision to make. Our pursuits and efforts in recruiting often make the difference between a candidate making the buying decision of applying for and accepting a job at our company and them choosing a competitor instead.
Making the sale
In traditional sales, those hoping to close a deal are ultimately matching a product or service with their customer. It has to be the right fit, and equally important, the customer has to buy in to the idea of it so that it’s not a one-off sale but a repeat sales opportunity. In order to do this, they discover the customer or client’s needs, help them determine what will fit their needs and ensure that they are confident in the decision. They highlight the benefits of the product or service, identify which features will be most enticing and perhaps even use testimonials or surveys to back up what they’re saying.
Does that sound familiar? Recruiters do exactly the same thing, but the end result is a new employee instead of an actual sale. We work hard to source candidates and generate leads, then connect with our candidates to determine their needs and wants and compare that with culture and skill fit. We use brand ambassadors and recognitions received to support our claims. Last but certainly not least, the relationship we develop with the candidate and the features our company has to offer seal the deal for us.
Time to think like a sales team  
 If we know that a significant portion of a recruiter’s job is to perform has a sales function, why don’t we invest in sales training for our recruiting talent and teams? Most sales people and teams go through extensive training to ensure they’re ready to make a sale, but there’s not a lot of emphasis on training to make the sale in recruiting. Not all LinkedIn InMails, phone call or candidate interviews are created equal.
Sales training for your teams can compliment your existing training and work hand in hand with recruiting tools and technologies. All these elements combined create a competitive advantage for your company and exhibits best in class recruiting. This is especially important in the competitive job market we are experiencing now. It’s time for us all to think like a sales team.


TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She’s the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.


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