5 Ways Recruiting Can Learn From Sales

Dylan Weiss

Dylan Weiss

5 min read

At first blush, it might seem like recruiting and sales are completely different functions in your organization. After all, recruiters are often part of the HR team, and they are focused on hiring and building a great team. Salespeople live in their own part of the organization, focused on selling your company’s products and services.

But if you zoom out, recruiters and salespeople have a lot of similarities. They are both focused on finding leads, pitching a product, and closing deals. They need many of the same skills, including great communication, attention to detail, and the ability to build rapport with others. That’s why we’ve compiled these five key ways that recruiting teams can learn from sales.

  1. Understand your prospect’s journey

In sales, it is essential to understand everything you can about prospective buyers. Why might they be in the market for your product? What problems can your product solve? How much will they pay for your product? What other products are they considering?

If a salesperson doesn’t understand their buyer’s journey and map it out, they don’t know when to ask for the sale or how to convince the buyer to buy.

As a recruiter, if you don’t understand what your candidate wants to know about your job or why they’d be interested in your company, you won’t be able to close them.

Here are some key questions to ask and explore as you engage with prospective candidates:

  • What does your candidate need to know about your company?
  • What issues might your candidate have in their current role?
  • What is your candidate’s motivation for seeking out a new role?

2. Generate outbound leads

Outbound leads are leads that you go out and find (the opposite of inbound leads, or leads that come in and find you). Outbound leads are a crucial part of a sales’ teams success, and they can be a crucial part of your success as a recruiter as well.

You may be used to the process of having candidates apply for roles, then sifting through resumes to choose the individuals you want to interview. That model works in some cases, when you have a highly desirable role or a tight job market. But it also has its pitfalls. These include having to sort through tons of resumes to find people who are actually compelling candidates, not getting enough resumes from the right people because they haven’t (or can’t) find your open role, and limiting your search to only active candidates.


Generating outbound leads can give your recruiting team a big advantage. Outbound leads are often passive candidates, meaning they aren’t actively looking but are open to a new role. But they may be highly qualified and a great fit for what you’re looking for. They simply have to be told about the role and why it could be such a good opportunity. That is why it is so important to reach out to candidates and generate outbound leads.

3. Establish meaningful relationships with candidates

Just like sales, good communication is essential to recruiting. The best salespeople and recruiters know that they have to establish a good rapport with their prospects so they can build a trusting relationship.

Nobody wants to buy a product from someone they don’t trust. They might be worried about getting scammed, or they might feel the salesperson doesn’t have their best interests at heart. But if you can build up a meaningful relationship with open communication, your prospect is much more likely to really listen to what you have to say and seriously consider what you’re selling.


4. Actively manage the candidate pipeline

The best sales leaders manage their pipeline and identify bottlenecks. They analyze where the biggest opportunities to improve their performance are, and then they go after them. Similarly, recruiting needs to identify where most candidates fall out of the process, constantly analyzing which stages or moments have the highest drop-off rates. Are candidates falling out of your pipeline during the initial phone screen? Or is it after they interview with hiring managers? Whatever the culprit is, a deeper analysis can help you fix it.

One way to improve your pipeline management is to use lead scores. Lead scoring is a system that helps sales reps identify promising prospects based on their behavior (such as how many times they’ve viewed content on your site) and profile data (like industry or company size). Lead scoring can also be used in recruiting: Managers or recruiters can assign points to candidates based on how well they fit a role and organization. For example, assign points for having industry experience or for having a Masters degree. Then collect that info in one place so that you can easily view and prioritize leads with high scores.


5. Utilize technology to save time and streamline your processes

Many recruiters have too much on their plate. Without the right tools or resources, recruiters have to rely on their own expertise and know-how. For example, a recruiter might need to quickly get up to speed with hiring for a new department or learn about new technologies a team is implementing. Recruiters often find themselves in this situation because either the company's hiring needs change quickly or they’re expected to do more (and better!) with fewer resources.

Regardless of the cause, it's not a good thing for recruiters’ productivity and effectiveness.

That’s where a tool like Covey comes in. Covey connects everyone in the hiring process so teams can identify, source, engage and hire better talent, faster. That kind of streamlined workflow can help your talent team get their time back to invest in the highest leverage activities.


Built for endless use cases
across all talent teams.

Ready to see Covey in action?