December 5, 2023

Recruiters or salespeople: how to define it?

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The time has come for you to buy yourself a new mobile phone. The one you currently have is outdated, the specs are not up to par for today’s standards and you like your megapixel number to be high enough to see a speck of dust on pictures taken. Aside from the good specs, you also like to have a checked and well-known brand, you want the quality to be quality in practice as well as in marketing. As an android user, you will think of Samsung and you’re the type of person who wants their flagship phone because you’re not afraid to spend money for quality. With that mindset you go to the mobile phone store, you start checking the selection they have, trying to find the phone you have in mind and suddenly the person working there stops by and asks you what exactly it is you’re looking for. After hearing your demands, they offer you the newest Huawei model which has all the specs you’re looking for and for a much cheaper price. You’re reluctant but intrigued. You’re not quite sure what to do because you would like to get Samsung whose name speaks for itself but at the same time you can get the same effect for much cheaper price. They are persistent in trying to sell you that Huawei model, and with good reason. In the end, they convince you and you get out of the store with a phone you never thought you would buy.

The above situation is the same with companies. The same principle applies and depending on the company and their reputation, a recruiter will either take a role of a consultant in which they can truly advise on given competencies and skills because of a broad range of candidates or they will take a role of a salesperson in which they have to carefully assess the company’s brand, culture, benefits etc. to truly paint a picture for the quality candidate in order to make them interested. Sounds dynamic and hard? More than you think.

Signing contract – same in sales or recruitment

When a recruiter is just a recruiter

A recruiter’s job can be easier than usual with the right company. If a company has a really good reputation, a renowned brand, good benefits, good culture, good buzz word etc., a recruiter’s job becomes significantly easier than it would be otherwise. How so? For one thing, they don’t have to worry about the size of their candidate pool. They know they will make a good selection without much trouble and that is important. Next, they don’t have to worry too much about the sourcing channels, they can just post a job vacancy on the most popular choice or in the best case scenario – their company’s website. Many well-known companies receive a large portion of open motivational letters so in some instances, they don’t even have to advertise because they can just make a selection from scratch. 

In cases like this, a recruiter doesn’t have to be worried about candidates not liking the company or trying to impress candidates with their presentation. The reputation and buzz word speak for themselves and are enough for them to be interested. This is why Employer Branding is so important. When a recruiter doesn’t have to be worried about selling the position, they can be focused more on consulting the managers/clients. They can simply focus more on the quality aspect of the candidates and go in depth to try and find the right fit. This isn’t to say that they wouldn’t do the same if the situation was different but it sure makes the job overall easier than to be focused on both the selling aspect and the consultancy. 

When a recruiter is also a salesperson

Let’s follow the analogy from the beginning. You’re a recruiter in a startup IT company with about 15-20 employees. Your brand is new and it’s only at the beginning of trying to make its place in the market. The competition is fierce and you have to have a thorough knowledge of your startup’s mission/vision/culture/benefits package to impress the prospect candidates. With all that in mind, you’re also aware that every one of those candidates has at least 2-3 more companies they’re competing for. So how does that compare to the situation above? The majority of the work and energy a recruiter has to put into is only to make the prospect candidates interested enough to want to work in a startup, let alone selection, interviewing and everything else. Making them interested means working on Employer Branding entirely, onboarding, finding the good sourcing channels, defining the appropriate culture which will appeal to the prospect profiles, have a good financial package etc. When a recruiter is a salesperson, they are almost always referred to as headhunters as well. Headhunters contact passive candidates in order to make them interested in their company, a job hard enough by itself, but imagine the headhunting for a startup. Yeah, not a bright picture, but as anything else, if you’re good at what you do, nothing is so hard that you’re not able to do it.

Recruitment agencies are known for their services of offering candidates and specific profiles to their clients. An agency recruiter is almost always a salesperson because their clients can’t close their vacancies on their own for the majority of time. As we mentioned above, a headhunter from a recruitment agency will always contact the passive candidate with the intent to sell the position they have, in other words, sell their client as a company. Not only that but when they manage to sell the client, they in turn have to sell that candidate to the client. If someone asks you if a recruiter’s job is easy, you almost always have to ask what kind because if we’re talking about agency recruitment with specific niche which is not easily found on the market, this would be the hardest type of job in the HR field, in my opinion.

Picking a candidate

How does the labor market influence a recruiter?

The labor market today is very important because it influences the way a recruiter works. Everything mentioned above is directly influenced by the labor market as well. It affects how the candidates act and think and in turn it dictates how the HR or a recruiter should work in order to get the most exposure. For example, if a specific position on the market has an average salary of $50k annually, judging by the average benchmark across all the companies with that position/field, the candidates will act accordingly by that information. Another example, a blue collar position which is quite frequent and doesn’t require specific skills but is known for being in demand, the labor market will dictate to speed up a recruiter’s selection process in order not to lose a good amount of candidates. Why? Because that profile probably applied to five other sources with similar benefits. A good recruiter will be well aware of that sort of information and will define or change the process of their work in order to ensure quality and fast-paced engagement with the candidates. 


What is the definition of a good recruiter? What skills should a recruiter have? How should a recruiter act in general? In today’s swift and complicated market, a good recruiter will be a combination of everything mentioned in this article. The consultancy aspect is important but being able to sell a product, or in this case a company/candidate, is equally important if not more. The more a complete skillset a recruiter has, the better the overall performance will be.