Recruiting 101: How to Sell Top Candidates on Your Job Opportunities

January 31, 2014


In such a competitive talent market, tech companies need to learn how to sell candidates on their job opportunities. Find out what you need to break through.

I recently read Dr. John Sullivan’s “Top 25 Recruiting Trends, Problems, and Opportunities for 2014” article on, and one of the biggest points that got me thinking was in the “Sourcing Becomes Easier” section. Specifically, it was Sullivan’s suggestion that there has been a shift toward improving the various “selling components” of recruiting, as more and more candidate become accessible online.

Learning to Sell Your Job Opportunities — And What You Need to Do So

In expansion-stage hiring, specifically in the technology space, the market is competitive for talented individuals. Based on my experience, the largest number of hires come from outbound sourcing and tapping networks for referrals, as opposed to job boards or internal inquiries. Due to this, I cannot emphasize how important the “selling component” is to engaging and ultimately winning top candidates. It is vitally important that hiring managers know what they want in a role, and that they effectively relay this information to the recruiting team, who can use this information to engage prospective candidates. I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve worked with hiring managers who know exactly what a position will entail — from the profile needed for success and 30-60-90 day goals to the specific performance objectives that the candidate will be responsible for. They understand the position itself, and as it relates to the internal team, overall company, and even to the external clients and audience. On the flip side, I’ve spoken with hiring managers who know they need to fill a role, but are not clear on the performance objectives or goals of this position. This is much more difficult to recruit for. Why? As a recruiter, it’s not only my role to source these candidates, it’s also my role to engage them and provide insightful information on the role as it relates to the overall company goals. I’m on the front lines selling the opportunity to prospective candidates, while being realistic about expectations and goals. It is very difficult to do this without the necessary information. I’ve tried it, and it’s not an effective conversation when I cannot answer these questions on behalf of the organization. It typically does nothing to pique a candidate’s interest. In fact, many times, it can do exactly the opposite. I compare it to telling a sales rep to make a sales call without giving them the necessary information or collateral on the product/service. Is this effective? No. It is possible to recruit like this, and can be typical in a seed-stage or very small organization (say, 20-30 employees) where lots of things are still up in the air, and everyone is pitching in wherever they can. Once your organization is beyond that stage and slated for further growth, it’s time to get priorities in line and know exactly what you want when it comes to hiring.

The Collateral You Need to Successfully Sell Candidates on a Position

So, what do you need to know before starting a search? Beyond budget, timeline, and the usual suspects, you need to dig in on the following details:

Company Information

  1. What’s currently going on at the company? What is the company working towards? What stage is the company in as it relates to meeting these goals?
  2. What’s the culture like?
  3. Why would someone want to work here?
  4. What are the short-term and long-term goals for your organization? How does the role fit into the short-term and long-term goals for your organization?
  5. How will this role have an impact on the above?

Role Information

  1. What are the responsibilities for this hire? Get specific here, don’t settle for “coding” or “selling.” What specifically will this person be doing?
  2. What are the performance objectives? What are the 30-60-90 day goals and overall performance expectations for this role?
  3. How does this hire fit into the team and the goals of the team?
  4. What is the current structure of the team?
  5. Why is the role open?

This may seem like a lot of information, but the more information the hiring team has, the more information they can provide to the prospective candidate, and the more information they have to sell the position and answer candidate questions.

What if You Can’t Provide this Information?

If you do not know this information, the hiring team cannot screen the candidate against the necessary criteria (as it’s not in place). From there, the phone screen or informational interview turns into a less effective conversation and more of the candidate reiterating what may be found on a resume. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s possible that you should not yet be recruiting for the position. Set your goals prior to going out and recruiting talent. Otherwise, you are going to hurt your employment brand and overall ability to hire top talent. You will also have a difficult time hiring and ultimately retaining talent if you cannot iterate expectations.

Director of Talent

<strong>Carlie Smith</strong> was the Senior Talent Manager, Sales & Marketing at OpenView. She worked directly with hiring managers and key stakeholders within OpenView and its portfolio to lead vital searches and provided process guidance on recruitment strategy, including talent identification, strategic sourcing, relationship building, and competitive intelligence. Currently, Carlie is the Director of <a href="">Circle</a>.