Recruiting as Sales

It’s a decades-old argument: Recruiting is sales, no it’s not.

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People who equate recruiting with sales point out how you have to sell a candidate on a position and a company, and close the deal. Those on the other side say this isn’t accurate, at all.
The reality is, there are similarities—and there should be major differences.


Like sales, recruiting involves prospecting and building a pipeline. In both professions, there are criteria for inclusion.
Strong communication skills are also required for both sales and recruiting. Arguably, without these skills, you won’t succeed in either field.
A friendly, outgoing personality is likewise an asset for salespeople and recruiters.
In addition, salespeople and recruiters need to be highly motivated. These competitive jobs aren’t for laidback people.
Perseverance is also required. Salesforce, a leading provider of customer relationship management (CRM) software, points out that it takes six to eight touches to generate a viable lead. Recruiting requires ongoing effort, as well.
Whether you’re in sales or recruiting, you need to be able to handle rejection. Often, even the best leads end up going nowhere.


Yet, despite the similarities, the differences are noteworthy.
Salespeople generally rely on the power of persuasion to sell tangible products or services. What’s more, these products and services often aren’t essential.
Although recruiters may try to “sell” a job to a candidate, by pointing out benefits, growth opportunities, and more, the “item” being sold isn’t tangible. A job candidate can’t take it for a test drive. And a job is almost always essential to the “buyer.”
Recruiters who try to persuade or oversell run the risk of ignoring warning signs—namely, that the candidate isn’t a fit, for whatever reason. If a candidate accepts a position under these circumstances, there is likely to be buyer’s remorse, along with performance and/or retention issues.
Although many of the skills required for sales and recruiting positions are similar, the major difference is that recruiters have the power to positively and negatively impact people’s livelihoods, and therefore their lives. It’s an awesome responsibility, and one recruiters shouldn’t lose sight of simply to close a deal.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.