recruiting sales career

Why Recruiting is a Great Place to Start your Sales Career

So you want to start a career in sales: Great – sales wants you. Working in sales offers a high degree of autonomy and performance-based monetary rewards, so it can be highly satisfying and fulfilling. But sometimes it can feel tough to get into if you don’t have any experience. So one way you can jumpstart your career in sales is by starting out in recruiting.

Why? First, recruiting is sales. And second, many of the same skills translate over if or when you cross over into a sales role.

But, aside from that, there are several advantages to starting your sales career in recruiting.

Benefits of working in recruiting

Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get differing opinions on what recruiting is like. Generally, most people in recruiting find it highly fulfilling and rewarding. Here are a few of the benefits of working in recruiting:

  • Highly rewarding – both financially and emotionally.
  • Build highly-applicable skills – that are sought after and have a high degree of market-crossover.
  • Help people achieve their goals – working through the entire recruitment process from sourcing to briefing, to coaching through the interview and beyond, you get to help people achieve what they want.
  • Variety – few days are the same.

You’ll find that many of these qualities lead to a huge crossover into sales. In fact, many successful sales leaders started in a recruiting role. Here’s what they have to say:

“Recruiting has helped me tremendously in my sales career. I had to learn creative ways to connect with people while they were working. I usually did not try to find a specific person for a specific job where I was recruiting. Rather, I tried to find the best people who were experts in their field who were ready to make a change. This prepared me for sales when I would take those candidates to market. If they weren’t the right fit, it would open a conversation about who was the right fit. Timing is everything and taking the time to consult the client about what their particular needs are will win every time.” 

Justin Groves, Client Solutions @ iLab

Aside from the opportunity to practice and improve soft skills that are essential in sales, working in recruiting will help you build and expand your network in various industries.

“When I started as a recruiter straight out of college I had no idea that 25 years later I would still be leveraging what I learned. One particular benefit is the diverse company knowledge I have. All those hours on the phone speaking with hiring managers and potential placements were hours of learning about companies, thousands of companies in dozens of different industries. This knowledge served me well as I began my sales career. A shared experience with a company was often the first connection I made with prospects.”

John Booth, VP of Marketing @ Cipher

So without further ado, here are our reasons to go into recruiting first:

10 Reasons recruiting is a great place to start

1. Recruiting is sales

It doesn’t matter if you’re an internal recruiter, a contract recruiter, part of an agency, or independent – you’re selling. But rather than a product or service, it’s your job to sell the company, company’s culture, the position, and more.

Unlike in “normal” sales, recruiting requires you to “double sell”: first, the candidate to the hiring manager; then the company and position to the candidate. This means your selling chops will become developed – possibly even faster than if you started directly in a sales role. So when you transition over, you’ll be ahead of your peers.

2. You develop essential sales skills

Again, if you approach recruiting as sales, you’ll develop many skills that a salesperson usually has. That’s because selling is a fundamental business skill, especially in recruiting. As a recruiter, you need to communicate well. Talking to candidates and hiring managers will definitely hone your communication and active listening skills. Qualification questioning is also needed in recruiting, especially when you’re screening candidates.

3. You learn how to communicate with diverse people

In recruitment, it’s all about people – it’s the name of the game. Working with diverse candidates, clients, and colleagues spread across different departments, offices, and even countries leads to you spending a lot of your day communicating with others. Whether it’s on the phone or in person, this volume of communication means you learn how to build rapport quickly, and have meaningful conversations with senior business leaders.

Plus, you also build your professional network, which is invaluable in any career.

4. You develop great time management skills

Recruiting is fast-paced and every day will be packed with important tasks, meetings, and other activities. To succeed, you need to be able to handle them all, often quickly. As such, you’ll learn to manage your time well. Prioritizing and staying organized are essential skills for sales, too, so the crossover is clear.

5. You learn to solve problems effectively

The world of recruiting, as it deals with people, can be unpredictable and difficult. So, faced with unexpected situations and unforeseen issues, you’ll learn to think on your feet and come up with good solutions. Problem-solving skills come in hand in every industry, and if you make the jump over to sales, you’ll be well-prepared to think on your feet with clients.

6. You become target-driven

To stay on track and focused, you’ll set sales targets and KPIs. Using these and other targets, you’ll be able to track what works and build and nurture relationships with candidates and clients. In sales, it’s not much different, and you’ll be used to hitting and exceeding these targets, so it’ll be nothing new.

7. You learn resiliency

Success doesn’t happen overnight, and highs and lows abound in sales. Starting in recruiting, you’ll face rejection, people will let you down, change their minds, or otherwise do something you didn’t want them to. Learning to be patient and persistent and not take these things personally when recruiting will help you handle rejection from clients in sales without falling apart or becoming despondent.

8. No experience necessary

In many places, you don’t need any experience to apply to and get into a recruitment job. Simply demonstrate your willingness to learn, an adeptness with people, and determination to beat your goals. While entry-level sales jobs may abound, they won’t pay as well as a recruiting role. And once you have experience in recruiting, you can easily make the transition by demonstrating the skills and results you’ve gotten in recruiting and how they transfer.

9. Climbing the ranks goes quicker

Many people who get into HR prefer to go into other fields, like training, development, and OD – more predictable areas. That means recruiting has a high “pass-through rate.” Stick with recruiting for even a little while, and it’ll take you less time to reach a managerial or senior status than in other areas. Having clearly demonstrated leadership skills and a job title to match look good and can be leveraged.

10. You’ll quickly find out if you’re any good

Unlike in other fields, it doesn’t take years of practice to become competent at recruiting. That means you can quickly find out if you’re likely to be successful. And with many skills and qualities shared with sales, you can use recruiting as a means to see if you’re going to like sales, if you have what it takes, and what you need to work on if you’re determined to make a go of it.

Conclusion

Recruiting has a lot of things in common with sales – that’s indisputable. But being able to quickly enter, learn, and grow skills that have a high crossover – while earning a competitive salary and making a difference – can help you jumpstart your sales career faster and better than accepting an entry-level sales job instead.

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James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.