Whether you realize it or not, we’re all in sales — that’s how we get what we need to make it through the day. We push, we pull, and we make things happen. Recruiters know this and have long ago come to the conclusion that the better we sell, the more successful we will become and the more hires we will put together. If you’re a recruiter who wants to build your organization by hiring more and better employees, you are going to have to remember the sales part of your job during the interview. (See How to Develop a Capture Strategy.)
The reason for this is because you are not just evaluating and buying talent but you are selling your company, the opportunity, and the vision of future success all at the same time. The logic for selling the company is simple: Most organizations are trying to hire the best possible employees, so when you get one in front of you, the time to make the candidate understand that this is both the position and the company they need to be hooked up with is now. Every candidate must walk out of your organization believing they just had the best interviewing experience of their entire careers. If this indeed happens, you are well on your way because if the hiring manager decides to move in the direction of an offer, you will have an easier time putting the deal together and making a great hire because there is no backpedaling required. Selling the company is a subtlety but is far easier than most people realize. If you’re enthusiastic about all of the things that make your company a great place in which to work, you are well on your way to making the sale happen. Let’s look at a few examples of how recruiters can make more hires by selling the company:
- Provide a world-class interviewing experience. First things first: The candidate’s interviewing experience must be world class. They will never think good things about your organization if their first impression is bad. It’s not all that hard to create a great interviewing experience. All you really need is to be prepared for the candidate; be polite; be respectful of their time; be on your best behavior; and always make the candidate feel welcome. By the way, this applies to hiring managers, big time! If you don’t coach your hiring managers, I suggest that you do so. (See Make Believe They’re Coming to Your House. It was written by a genius and deals with how people skills alone can set your organization apart from others and be first choice in the candidate’s mind.)
- Sell the benefits. After compensation, one of the things most candidates want to hear about is benefits. If your organization has very good benefits, be sure to let the candidate know about them. Are your medical benefits world class? Do you have a dental plan that will get you new teeth when yours fall out? What about things like work-life balance, family friendly, flex time, telecommuting, company-sponsored daycare, Friday afternoons off in the summer, or free latt?s? Folks, the candidate will never know it if you don’t tell it to them, so be sure you mention it during the interview. (Can you even imagine Google not mentioning its benefits to the candidates they want to land?)
- Talk about why you came to the company. Most recruiters are wonderful at forming relationships with candidates. As this relationship deepens, so does the trust factor. Few tools are more effective than telling the candidate why you’ve come to the company. Let me demonstrate the power of this concept in reverse. In 1989, a candidate who I was asked to land by our CEO looked me straight in the eye and asked me one simple question: “Why are you working here.” It was the longest few minutes of my life. I no longer had any idea why I was working there and told him that. It was a turning point in my life. He did not accept our CEO’s offer and I gave notice the following week to go out on my own. He had no reason to join us and I had no reason to stay.
- Sell the opportunity. Every position represents an opportunity to make good things happen for the company and the candidate’s career. Don’t be shy about telling the candidate where they can go if they do well in the position. Tell the candidate about the employee who last did well in that position and how far he has moved to in their career. Use real world examples of how the organization rewards those who do well. Tell it in a way that will allow the candidate to see all of the possibilities that come from being successful. (Think painting pictures with words.)
- Sell the company. Some companies are better than others. Regardless of where your company fits in the mix, there must be some good things you can talk about. Just as I advise candidates not to be shy during the interviewing process, to you my recruiting friends, I suggest the same thing: Consider these examples of things you can talk about:
- Your company has just been awarded a new contract that will create exciting opportunities for those joining the organization.
- Your company is in the business of doing good things for the world, possibly creating new drugs to ease suffering.
- Your company has a great culture of fun, success, excitement, and meaningful work.
- Your company a leader in its field, an up-and-coming rocket that is really going places or perhaps a high-end boutique shop that can pick and choose its clients.
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Get the picture? The time to sell the company is when the candidate is in front of you, not in follow-up phone calls or e-mails. Gather information as you interview and sprinkle the conversation with real-world examples as to why your organization is a great place in which to work. I would be remiss if I did not make an important point. Selling the company does not mean making any statements about the organization that are not true. The very concept of selling involves accentuating the positive, driving the process, and trying to make something happen. No one likes to lose a candidate, but integrity triumphs all else. If your company is in Buffalo, don’t tell candidates from Florida that it never snows there in the winter. The above ideas only scratch the surface of selling the company. I suggest you make a list of all of the great things about your company and use it to hire the best possible employees, as this will make you one step closer to being a great recruiter.