3 things recruiters should learn from sales professionals

Recruitment is a high touch, personal, people business. Nothing like sales, right?


Sourcing is like outbound prospecting, interviewing is like qualifying (inbound) leads, hiring is like closing and talent management is like account management.

No wonder that great recruiters share many characteristics with great sales people. They are social, build strong networks, listen well, are convincing and although they can gather information in many ways, they aren’t afraid to follow their gut feeling when necessary.

This is proven by the amount of freelance recruiters, and consultants at staffing agencies, that successfully acquire their own customers, in order to provide their recruitment services. Which, in fact, is B2B sales.

Still not convinced? Check out how similar sales and recruitment objectives are.

Sales Recruitment
Acquiring profitable customers Recruiting profitable candidates
Shorter sales cycles Quicker time to hire
Lowering customers acquisition cost Lowering cost per hire


So, now that we have established the similarities between sales and recruitment, let’s take a look at three things what recruitment can learn from sales, to become more effective.

1. Get the most out of marketing

Consumers make most of their decisions without ever personally interacting with companies. Research shows that 73% of the candidates start searching at Google. This offers great opportunities for marketing to manipulate it in your favour, using a multichannel content strategy, to attract and persuade potential customers. Great salespeople understand this and work closely with marketers.

You can see the recruitment industry quickly catching up, successfully implementing the same principles B2C marketers use to attract customers, to attract candidates. Brand marketers have taken up employer- (, in stead of service- or product-,) branding. Web developers are creating elaborate career websites. SEO/SEA specialists are (re)targeting talent. Recruiters shouldn’t feel threatened by this development, but embrace is, the way sales people already have.

If you want to learn more about recruitment marketing, check out our whitepaper with 5 tips to help you recruit like a marketer or book a call with one of our specialists.

 2. Specialize your roles

Letting salespeople do a little bit of everything, it inhibits them from excelling at anything. The solution is specializing your roles, as Aaron Ross describes.

This is also true for recruitment, whether you’re part of a large recruitment team, or an individually operation freelancer. If you are sourcing, interviewing, hiring and managing talent, you’ll end up doing it at an average level at best, but risk doing some of it poorly.

By splitting up activities and allocation them with fully dedicated representatives you reap two main benefits.

  1. Effectiveness: When people focus on one area, they become experts.
  2. Insights: By breaking your roles into separate functions, you can easily identify and fix your bottlenecks. When everyone is doing everything it’s like having a tangled ball of yarn you can’t tease apart.

In sales this split often looks like this.

Translated to recruitment would lead to the following division and roles.

  1. Sourcing Recruiter: Searches-, reaches out to- and qualifies candidates
  2. Inbound Recruiter: Qualifies applicants
  3. Hiring Recruiter / Hiring Manager: ‘Closes’ and hires candidates, converts them to employees
  4. HR manager / Talent manager: Helps employees get the most out of their talent within the company

3. Use the right technology

Technology is advancing at an exponential rate and it’s leaving its mark on recruitment. Applicant Tracking Systems have been around for quite some time now. They are basically the recruitment industry’s answer to the sales industry’s CRM (customer relationship management) systems and accommodate most of the aspects of vacancy- and applicant management.

Now, companies like VONQ, Smashfly, Clinch and Yawave are making strides by specializing in a specific part of the recruitment process. Marketing, sourcing and referrals in their cases, respectively.

Choosing the right supporting technology can make a huge difference in your recruitment process, by helping you reach, attract and manage candidates effectively. Choosing not to use any technology, in most cases, will prove equal to choosing to fail.


In a world where talent is scarce and companies compete with many others in labour markets saturated with interesting job opportunities, in order to be successful recruiters should learn three things from sales people.

    Get the most out of marketing Implement specialized roles in the process Use the right technology

Happy recruiting!

Want to learn more about recruitment marketing?

In our latest, free white paper we describe 5 steps to help you recruit like a marketer and get the most out of your recruitment strategy. After reading this, you will know exactly how to recruit like a marketer!

Stanislaw Wasowicz
Guest blogger