Should Recruiters Start Reporting into the VP of Sales?

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Sales GuyOrganizations today are in a productivity battle unmatched at any other time in history.  In order for a company to succeed in today’s volatile and competitive environment, companies have to have the right people, doing the right jobs, all in record time.  On the outside it must look like recruiters can just breeze through their hiring requirements while barely rolling on in to work.  They must have thousands of qualified applicants to choose from that would all just be thrilled to have a job at the local software company or insurance company, or data processing center.

Well, you would be wrong, mostly.   It is true that unemployment is high and applicants are readily available and applying for everything they see.  This makes the job of a recruiting professional very difficult.  You must have a core made of steel today to work in recruiting.  You spend your days fighting off the 99.9% of unqualified applicants that waste your time with their fluffed up, professionally written resumes filled with buzz words that leave you blurry eyed.  When you aren’t blocking and tackling applicants you’re answering to inexperienced hiring managers who say things like: “How come you can’t find a candidate with 10 years’ experience, no more than 2 jobs in the last 5 years, an advanced degree, and wants to move to North Dakota? I thought we were in a recession?”

Excellent recruiters ARE excellent sales people.  They aren’t excellent because they can “close you” today, or convince you that a job or company is right for you.  Those are old fashioned sales skills that got left behind with Glengarry Glen Ross “Always Be Closing” Days.

Today excellent salespeople have 5 pillars to their success and excellent recruiters are no different.  If recruiters can master these 5 pillars they will successfully win the battle of recruiting.

  • Quick Qualifier:  In sales the old adage of “time is money” has never been truer.  Sales reps and recruiters alike have to sift through barrages of unqualified leads—or applicants to find the High Match, High Value leads/applicants.  When the job requirement is established, make sure that you and the hiring manager identify the characteristics of candidates who will likely be the best match and spend 90% of your recruiting time on candidates who possess those qualities.  The exception would be for employee referrals.  If you get an employee referral who is not a High Match, High Value candidate, contact the referrer and talk with them about your reservations and get their input on whether they truly believe you spending your time on this candidate is good for the company.
  • Hunter vs. Farmer Mentality:  In sales, reps receive many unqualified leads and they could easily spend their day farming through unqualified leads that are not High Match/High Value and then try to close the best of the bunch.  Average recruiters do the same thing.  Not enough hunting time is being spent today developing a pipeline of High Match/High Value candidates and nurturing those relationships in hopes of one day closing the deal.  You don’t want to chase unicorns, but you do want to hunt for the best talent in your industry.  Know who you want to go after and find ways to begin a relationship with those individuals.  Networking on Linked-In, job boards, and other social networking sites is a great way to start those relationships and begin building your own recruiter “prospect” database.  You never know when someone is going to come onto the market!
  • Master Anticipator of Objections:  Before and during a hiring process with a qualified candidate you must anticipate the objections and reservations the candidate AND hiring manager will have.  If the list is too long then you probably have the wrong candidate.  But, assuming you have the right candidate, put yourself in the shoes of the candidate and hiring manager and really feel what it would be like to be in their shoes right now.  If they are currently working and have some fear of making a change in the current economy how can you overcome that?  What reservations does the hiring manager have? List all the possible objections on a sheet of paper and ensure that you have covered them.
  • Skilled Negotiator:  Sales people who don’t negotiate well have to work twice as hard because they give too much away and thus have to close more business to reach their quota.  Recruiters who don’t negotiate well have to work harder because if they lose a great candidate due to poor negotiations they have to start all over from scratch, or worse, the employee accepts the low ball offer then quits 6 months later for a higher paying job.  Stop the madness!  Offering and accepting a job is a series of “gives and gets”.  Know all the facts going into the negotiation.  This step is not just an “offer” it is a crucial step in closing the deal or closing the candidate and if not executed well can be very embarrassing.  Know what you can give and what you need to give.  Don’t try to low ball the candidate because you make less than they do.  Have your proof points (industry research, etc.) on hand.  Rule of thumb, for every “give” there is a “get”.
  • Referral Magnet:  Successful sales people are excellent at asking their customers for referrals.  Think about it, when the owner of a business buys a product and he tells his buddies on the golf course how great it is and who they should call, how much quicker is that sales process?  You get through the trust and rapport portion of the selling cycle in lightning speed!  The same holds true for recruiters.  You should ask all of your candidates and successful hires for referrals of excellent people—not just job seekers who would fit in well in your company.

So, next time the VP of Sales is holding a sales training session, send your recruiters in for a little refresher course.  The result should be a larger pipeline of higher caliber candidates, quicker closings, and more satisfied employees.

Read more in Recruiter Motivation

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.