Is recruiting new employees the same as selling?

Is recruiting new employees the same as selling? Absolutely. In fact our best recruiters possess many selling skills (it does help that we specialize in sales recruiting so we kind of know a thing or two about sales). But wait you say. In a recruiting scenario isn’t the employer the buyer and the candidate the seller? Well, yes and no. Yes the employer is the buyer, but the desirable candidates – the ones you really want to hire – usually have multiple suitors so in that sense, the employer is the one that must assume the role of selling in a relationship with a prospective employee.

Here are the other ways recruiting is like selling.

Qualifying – You need to ask questions to determine if a candidate has the right mix of skills, experiences and sales DNA to be successful in your role, much like you would qualify a prospect to determine if they have the problems and pain that your product or service alleviates. Furthermore, you need to be honest about what it is like to work for your company, to make sure they are comfortable with that, because the last thing you want is for someone to accidentally join a company they don’t suit and then want to leave after you have invested time in training them.

Selling – You have to sell potential candidates on the value of working for your company much like you would sell prospects on the merits of becoming one of your customers. You have to demonstrate how your company will address their needs and aspirations or as the case may be frustration they are currently experiencing in their career.

Handling Objections – Often candidates, particularly those that are employed and not necessarily seeking to make a career move, will have questions and reasons why they might not take on a new role at this time. It is the job of the recruiter to listen, get to the real heart of the concerns and handle the objections carefully to make sure they are addressed without getting a candidate to make a move for the wrong reasons.

Negotiating & Closing – The perfect negotiation occurs when you sell something that someone wants and needs. Not only does that leave both parties satisfied, it creates the likelihood for future dealings. When you’re recruiting new sales reps, you’re also trying to arrange the perfect negotiation – one where you both feel good about the relationship you are creating long term. Pay them too little and they may be demotivated. Overpay them and you may be frustrated with the return on your investment.

Recruiting is a lot like selling, so if you are recruiting, we hope you love selling.

To your success.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.
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