Strap yourself in blog faithful, this is the first in four back-to-back blogs from the desk of S. D. Burnett. Sorry to spring this on you but at least you’re a little more prepared than the poor Turkish bartender stationed at the swim-up bar in Sean’s all-inclusive resort. Poor chap has no idea the level of pish he has to endure over the next few weeks. When I googled ‘four-part movies’ it didn’t fill me with confidence; A Good Day to Die Hard and Seed of Chucky weren’t exactly cherries atop cinematic cakes but their roots were pretty good so, let’s get off on the right foot with a topic close to my heart, sales. The S Word is said in hushed tones in our industry, it’s the big green elephant in the room. If Marvel ever takes me up on that autobiographical origin story, you’ll see that I started out in Sales. I’ve sold heaps from biscuits to broadband; Stroplewafles at the Liverpool Christmas markets and Internet packages back home in Jersey. Sprinkle in some short stint’s charity fundraising and you have a salesy gumbo that’s just *chef kisses fingers. Perhaps that’s why I get a little defensive about it.
It could also be that this particular skill set I’ve acquired over the years is becoming less and less relevant in today’s market. When people think of the sales angle in recruitment, they think of business development and cold calling. But in a market where jobs are plentiful and candidates are in short supply, we need fewer business development managers and more account/relationship managers. We need people capable of growing out accounts and connecting the dots between hiring managers in different departments. However, sales still rears its beautiful head at different points, and like a practicing nun, we all need to be capable of sell-a-bit see! (That joke kills, usually). The usual recruitment sales cycle is to sell your services to a client to get a role, sell a candidate on that role then, sell that candidate to the client. Now that we have clients knocking on our doors that first part isn’t as important but the later two parts still are but, when does the selling stop.
You want to give your candidate as many options as possible. You want them to make an informed decision so they don’t have any ‘what ifs?’ You also want to ensure that the option taken is one you’ve represented, which isn’t a crime. Your clients will probably ask you if you’re aware of any other options that they have? Then more brazen ones will even ask if you have represented them to these options? I think it’s always better to tell the truth at this stage, I don’t think we should ever be ashamed of saying how good a job we’ve done. The reason I bring up this unique dynamic is there’s an aspect of selling that’s not often discussed. That is, the client being able to sell. Their benefits, culture, and importantly the role above the other options. Your job as a recruiter is to be able to represent candidates that match your clients’ requirements. You get them to the door your client should take some responsibility in getting them over the line.
You may have even had the disappointment of a client not getting a candidate on board leveled at you? As if you were their internal recruiter. Or worse, the insinuation you have played favorites or coerced the candidate in a direction. Which ironically wouldn’t have been a problem if it had benefitted them. I always say that if I could make up candidates’ minds then I’d be driving a better car. To avoid any hurt feelings on the client’s side what we can always do as consultants is help them sell. My clients are usually pretty good at selling their benefits but I can imagine that for you guys that some hiring managers in certain industries may struggle. It’s worth reminding them about why you decided to partner with them in the first place or why they chose to work at their current place of work. Putting themselves in the shoes of potential hires and thinking about why they would want to join. Not everyone is the same though and one person’s reasons may differ. That’s why a refresher on what’s really important to the candidate is also a handy tool to have in the interviewer’s arsenal. If someone has a focus on health for example and you don’t tell them about your onsite gym or extensive wellness perks, is that the recruiter’s fault?
There will come a time when jobs will be harder to come by and the ability to pick up the phone and essentially sell a pen will be in demand. Selling isn’t a dirty word, it’s a skill and somewhat of a dying art. It’s something that we can even impart to aid our colleagues/clients/candidates. I think it’s something we should all acknowledge so we can remove the stigma because, even when you’re selling a potential hire on the fact that “this isn’t a sales environment”, you’re still selling to them 🤯