If recruiting is “just like sales” why aren’t recruiters coached like salespeople?

“Recruiting is just like sales”
– Every experienced recruiting leader

Qualifying and disqualifying leads. Building rapport. Doing discovery. Projecting confidence. Managing energy. Handling objections. Telling a story. Navigating a negotiation. Bringing a deal to a close. 

Whether you’re leading a prospect through a sales cycle or candidate through a hiring cycle, the skill sets are the same. 

The best recruiters think, walk, and talk a lot like the best salespeople. 

And like the best salespeople, the best recruiters dramatically outperform their peers – often by 3-4x.

But when it comes to sales and recruiting leadership, there seems to be a big difference. 

Sales leaders are obsessed with excellence, with coaching, with continuous performance improvement. Recruiting leaders… not so much.

Don’t believe me?

Run a Google search for “sales excellence”. You’ll return half a billion results. 

The top links lead to thought leadership by some of the world’s largest and leading companies, including global consultancies like McKinsey. 

Sales excellence is a discipline. The science of running a world-class sales cycle has been studied and codified – and is taught to the front lines.

Not so much for “recruiting excellence”. 

A similar Google search produces one fifth of the results, and the top links don’t lead to research from top-tier global firms – they lead to the staffing firm Recruiting Excellence (3 employees on LinkedIn) and one book on the topic published in 2002. 

While every experienced recruiting leader says recruiting is like sales, they don’t coach, train, and develop their recruiters with the same intensity, rigor, and focus that sales leaders invest in their teams.

Even though recruiting fuels the entire growth of the business. 

Even though recruiters are people people – and so you’d think recruiting leaders would be uber people people.

Even though helping average recruiters get better could drive 3-4x improvement in key metrics like hires made and time to fill. 

Over the past six months the BrightHire team interviewed hundreds of recruiting leaders across multiple industries and segments – big corporate teams, high-growth tech startups, RPOs, retained executive search, light industrial staffing providers – to understand how they coach and develop their teams.

Recruiters typically get trained on the tools and systems to do the job, and review basic tactics like Boolean search. 

At best, they’re engaged in an onboarding program and get paired up to shadow a couple calls. 

Most often, they’re more or less cast out and told to either sink or swim.

That’s crazy. 

If you run a staffing firm, improving recruiter excellence drives top-line growth. It yields higher conversion rates and more placements. 

If you run an in-house team, your recruiters are competing for talent in one of the tightest labor markets in decades – and they deliver the first impression for every candidate.

When identifying and connecting with talent has never been easier – when marketing automation and modern CRMs are table stakes – simply building a big database of candidates won’t be a sustainable source of competitive advantage. 

But recruiters’ ability to engage and convert candidates will be.

So if recruiting really is “just like sales”, it’s time to start seriously investing in Recruiting Excellence. 

Because the teams get the best out of every recruiter on their team and make the most of every candidate conversation will win. 

At BrightHire we’re building the playbook for Recruiting Excellence and the technology platform to help recruiting teams make the most of every conversation. Want to learn more? Drop us a line.

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