The parallels between selling and a dealing with a recruiter

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It is a good looking CV. But has there been lot of questions asked before sending it?

Photo credit: Rebeca_CE

“You can find my CV attached for your consideration.”

I had just introduced a friend of mine to a recruiter as I thought the opportunity this recruiter sent me might of interest to him. Following the email intro, my friend responded and, right away, sent his CV through. I was taken aback. Why did he not ask questions before sending his CV?

I might be obsessed with asking as many questions as possible when interacting with people in a business context. But, seeing my friend sending his CV right after the introduction, I could not help to see the parallel between a recruitment process and a sales process, at least from a candidate point of view.

Let me explain….

One of the framework I do use when preparing a sales call is More / Time / Fixed / Cost. In short, it reminds me to ask a prospect: “Tell me more about the situation at hand” then “How long have you been looking at this”, the Fixed stands for “What have you tried to fix the situation at hand” and finally, Cost is for “What is the impact on you and the organisation if you do not fix the situation”. Could my friend have used this framework when I introduced him to this recruiter? I believe so.

They say “Information is power”.

One could possibly argue this is not true anymore these days as we’ve entered a “post truth” democracy with fake information flying around but in “real” business, I believe this is valid… The one who has the more information is the one who can adapt what he has to say. For both a sales or a recruitment process . Sending a CV is sending a formatted information to a recruiter, not a personalised one. Doing a pitch or a demo without having asked lot of qualifying question is not putting a candidate or sales person in a best position. So my friend could have said something along the lines of: “This role sounds interesting. Would it be reasonable to share some more information about it to assess if there is a possible fit?”

More / Time / Fixed / Cost

I think this sales framework would have worked well for my friend. For instance, the type of questions he could have asked are:

More: Tell me what is the ideal background/profile that you are looking for? What type of candidates have been rejected / selected so far? What is the hiring manager background? Etc, etc…. In a recruitment context, this can help to tailor a CV to the optimal level.

Time: How long have you been looking to fill this position? If the role has been advertised a long time ago and if it is difficult to find a suitable professional, this can be seen as a good sign as the organisation is really committed to this hire and the decision might need to be made soon. On the flip side, if the search has just started, a candidate should probably drill on the urgency of the hiring organisation.

Fixed: As mentioned before, the only reason people buy is to get away from pain. A recruitment is, in a way, a buying process. Some money will be paid. So from the candidate stand point, it can also be interesting to understand the impact on both the organisation and the hiring manager if this recruitment is not finalised. I remember going though such a process a little while ago and when asking “What is the impact if you do not find someone” being told: “Well, we can work it out fine, we will be fine”. That did send some serious alarm bells in my mind :)

Cost: A follow on question to the “Fixed” topic is to quantify the financial impact of not finding the right candidate. This is a good data point to use in salary negotiation. Whilst a simple question can be “What is the budget/comp package allocated to this role”, quantifying what is the cost of not hiring helps to understand how one (the comp package) compares to the other one (the cost of not hiring). Always useful at the negotiation stage…

Clearly, a recruitment process and a hiring process are not exactly similar. But it feels to me that sending a CV to a recruiter is somewhat similar to starting a sales process by a demo. It is missing the information gathering step that is traditional is sales. As Daniel Pink said, we are all in sales and what is someone doing when trying to get a job if it isn’t selling himself?

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