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HR: Why Sales is Critical in Recruiting

Double-Face-editedGood, highly-skilled, highly-employable candidates have gone underground as companies look to find and recruit away these less-than-passive job seekers (they’re really non job seekers – they are not seeking at all). This means HR has to find, recruit and SELL more than ever.

OK, that may not be a fair question. But in the realm of recruiting, it’s an important question. If you accept that in many areas right now it’s a “candidate’s market” or that highly-skilled professionals are hard to find and harder to recruit, then you might start thinking about sales a little more.

First, let me give you a few facts and assumptions I’m starting with:

  • Unemployment is low. That alone would be an issue, but the labor force participation rate is historically low. So the pool is smaller no matter how you slice it.
  • STEM was not a popular major a few years ago, so now there are not a lot of young people waiting to take over in many technology areas.
  • Hiring cycles are long, even with HR technology in the mix more than ever. This probably means it’s not the technology; it’s the humans in the equation.
  • Wages are stagnant. So while you can offer more, the question is: What happens after that? Will they have a career path, or will someone else just offer more?
  • Companies have reduced middle management and support positions. Workers are doing more with less and job paths are harder to clearly show.

This leads me to why sales is critical in recruiting. Before the Great Recession, HR was working with a set of assumptions that had worked for most of the past two decades or so. In some ways, sales, as in recruiting sales, were easy. But all that has changed, as I’ve noted above.

Now, our wait-and-see economy is not helping anyone. HR is forced to do more with less, but in a different world. The “make or buy” decision, which is about hiring internal recruiting resources or outsourcing, is no longer an either/or decision. Multiple recruiting strategies and resources are needed – the hard part is figuring out which ones.

Got the Right (Recruiting) Stuff? 

In some ways, it could be seen as easier. If I just offer someone more money and a nice title, they will be lured away from their current employer, right? While this may work for the short-term, it’s not a good long-term tactic. We hear time and again that workers don’t leave their company, they leave their boss. Or that money isn’t the be-all, end-all of what they want from a company.

Any good salesperson will tell you that it’s not always about price. And if it is, then it’s a different kind of sale. And different types of sales require different tactics.

Which leads me to my point: Recruiting today requires different kinds of recruiting (or sales) tactics for different kinds of positions/markets/geographies. If you are using the same tactics for a low-level, unskilled job as you are for highly-skilled positions it’s not going to work. And even within some job categories like IT, there are easier- and harder-to-fill jobs.

So, think about your HR team and how good they are at sales. Are they good salespeople (and should they be)? Lastly, if you were in charge of sales, who would you want working on your top, target markets – your top salesperson, or just any salesperson?


This blog was written by Matt Rivera. Matt serves as Vice President, Marketing and Communications and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Yoh’s marketing and brand communications. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and has been working in the staffing industry for more than 25 years. Prior to this role, Matt held many different roles from branch recruiting and proposal writing to technology management and online marketing.

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