Recruitment and sales are not one in the same. Unlike sales, where you are selling a product or service, recruitment is all about problem solving to source talent solutions that empower businesses to grow and succeed. However, despite the differences, there are many qualities that are valuable in both roles.
In my experience, many of the traits that make a good salesperson are also the traits of a good recruiter — and I’ve seen many talented salespeople with exceptional interpersonal skills successfully make the leap into the search industry.
Recruiting is an incredibly exciting world to explore if you’re interested in applying your sales skills to a field that impacts people and their families for the better every day. Here are a few traits that can make good salespeople exceptional recruiters.
The art of storytelling is probably the most important crossover trait between talent access and sales. The best recruiters share an inspiring, aspirational story about the company with the candidate, while telling an accurate and compelling story about the candidate to the company they may work for.
To help create mutually beneficial partnerships, clients and candidates need to see each other’s potential, and storytelling is how they envision their possible futures together. This is a delicate skill that requires imagination, sensitivity, strong communication, and integrity — and these are skills possessed by both the best salespeople, and the most talented recruiters.
While there are plenty of commonalities between recruiting and sales, salespeople with a strong sense of compassion and empathy will excel in the recruiting space. Matching people with career opportunities is so much more than just a transaction — the human element is what truly sets our industry apart.
Every day, recruiters deal with people during periods of career transition — one of the most stressful events in someone’s life. These life altering events don’t just affect candidates, they cast ripples that also affect their spouses’ careers, their children’s education, and even the cities they call home.
Recruiters must have the emotional intelligence to navigate this massive change alongside their candidates, and ensure they are invested in the outcome beyond simply “making a sale.”
The role of a recruiter is not simply to close a deal. Rather, recruiters act as connectors who bring together different parties to achieve a common goal. Recruitment is not the act of selling something — it is the act of providing solutions and problem solving with evidence-based information.
Trust is essential to perform such a delicate and complex task effectively, ethically, and capably. The best salespeople are able to build rapport that puts customers at ease, making them feel comfortable, reassured, and advocated for. This skill will also serve recruiters well in their professional lives, allowing them to build trusting relationships that benefit clients, candidates, and of course their own firms.
Sometimes, the ideal candidate isn’t who you might expect. To find the most talented and promising employees, recruiters must be able to look past the language on their CV or LinkedIn page to get a sense of their values, skills, and capabilities as people.
Similarly, sometimes it’s necessary to read between the lines to understand what a company really needs from a new hire. Companies might need their recruiter’s professional expertise to start looking for qualities in a candidate they didn’t even realize they needed.
That’s why a sense of curiosity is crucial for recruiters, like for salespeople. The ability to look below the surface of a situation and analyze peoples’ skills, needs, and motivations will serve professionals well in both a recruiting and sales context.
There are many ways to reach a desired outcome by driving a decision-making or negotiation process. For salespeople, their desired outcome is for the customer to buy the product or service being offered, while in the case of recruitment, the goal is to guide both the company and candidate to a mutually beneficial outcome.
While these are very different situations, both require a keen ability to read people, respond to their needs, and steer the process without being pushy or demanding. It could be argued that these are the traits of the best salespeople, too, in any industry.
Recruiting is a complex business. To succeed, professionals must be able to project manage, negotiate, influence, and master the art of gentle persistence — sometimes all at the same time!
Recruiting is sales — in some ways
While there are important differences between filling job orders and closing deals for a product or services, in many ways, recruitment is a true sales function that requires many of the same skills and qualities.
Salespeople with strong communication, interpersonal, and storytelling capabilities may see themselves excel in the World of Work — and the human element that’s so integral to our industry may offer an exciting new change of pace.
If you’re a salesperson who’s interested in a career change, I invite you to consider talent access. Connect with MRI to learn about our global network of professional support, development, and resources.