Sudarsan Ravi

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Recruitment - HR or a Marketing/Sales function?

Recruitment - HR or a Marketing/Sales function?

What? Recruiting bunched up with Sales, Bizarre! It deals with People and is a HR function. Why even think about changing that?

What next? Are we going to start offering commissions based on successfully hiring employees?


We live in an era of dwindling attention spans and impatience. Add to that lofty expectations and you have the recipe for 30% attrition. In this environment, companies are constantly hiring. Till about 15 years ago, recruiting constantly was unheard of. Recruiting was seasonal, demand based and loyalty amongst the employee workforce was high. In such a scenario, it made a lot of sense to keep the recruitment division within the HR function since they dealt with people and clubbing recruitment with sales would be dismissed as a bizarre thought.


It still doesn’t make sense to club recruitment under Marketing or Sales. The focus of recruitment has always been on people and that aligns well with the HR function. However, there is much that can be learned from the Sales process. After all, in both Recruiting and Sales, there are clear targets to be met. Both functions deal with convincing the outside world to engage with the company. Both functions face similar pressures to churn out quick results. It is worrying that in most companies, the two departments tend to work in isolation. After all, how many companies have their Sales managers train recruiters or share notes? We have tried to capture a few important lessons here. While each of these could be a topic of a blog post (some other day), here is a short summary.


Branding your company


Marketers tend to keep the message consistent about the company and what it stands for. Coke is about “Opening Happiness” while Nike states “Just do it”. It is important to know what your company stands for and share it on every communication. Not just on calls with candidates or potential candidates, but with existing employees, alumni, etc. This is not about repeating a standard vision statement or mission statement but sharing one thing about your organization that leaves a memory imprint. Consider the impact of this statement to a prospective candidate - “We believe in valuing independence and initiative and respect our employees for the talent they are” or “We are a meritocracy that demands excellence. That is the environment you are being considered for so put your best foot forward during the interview process”. Employment branding is currently restricted to just being noticed on campuses or on job boards but there is scope for much more.


Building your sales funnel


Every company focuses on building a pipeline of clients for their sales force to target. They usually focus on having resources dedicated to identifying potential clients. As recruiters, it is imperative to have an optimized set of active candidates that have been shortlisted after contacting them, getting their latest profiles and confirming interest in applying for the position. It is better to isolate and measure the function of hunting for candidates (be it on job boards, social media) from the process of interviewing them. This results in improved efficiency and measuring each stage gives you the data points to optimize every stage further.


Customer Support


Treat your employees as your customers. Focusing on HR functions (once an employee is hired) as if you are handling customer support and customer queries has huge benefits. The patience needed to deal with employees comes naturally for customers. The same level of urgency and sense of importance will result in a big change in perception within the organization. Also, since HR is considered to be the voice of management and reflective of their beliefs, it provides the opportunity to influence the mindset.


And like satisfied customers get you some referrals and newer customers, your employees start to feel a part of the workforce and align with the company goals. They start to contribute more to the hiring process and spread the goodwill around.


What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think recruitment and sales have things in common? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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