You need faith in what you sell

Published: 14 Mar 2016

“I’m fed up with the cold-calling. I don’t want to sell anymore.”So begins almost every conversation we have with an agency recruiter looking to move in-house.
You do not stop selling when you move in-house. The topic of selling — or not — has been widely debated. I’ve always believed it is intrinsic to a great in-house recruiter; that’s evident right now and not for the reasons you might suspect.
One of the most consistent reasons we see for in-house recruiters wanting a new role is they no longer have faith in what they are selling.
In agency, you can go and find new clients when you fall out with existing ones. That’s not possible in-house. When the only thing you are selling is no longer something that you believe in, you have a problem — and it’s increasingly common.

Why so?

Most of the problems appear to be rooted in something we’ve all been championing — the ‘candidate experience’. By no means is candidate experience now a smooth, consistent and outstanding event across the recruiting world, but it is getting better.
For many in-house recruiters, this has been supported by investment in branding, selection tools and candidate swag, all of which help the sell. At its heart should be a theme of ‘what it is like to work here’ — but this is often missing.
This is where things start to become challenging. When the work experience does not match the candidate experience, the role of the in-house recruiter is horrible. There’s no hiding place from a colleague who feels they have been miss-sold a role or a hiring manager who feels a new team member ‘does not get the culture’.
As a recruiter, there are not many places to go either; you cannot change the work experience, you might be part of a longer-term cultural shift on work life in the talent team, but you cannot do it alone.
Now is probably not the time for the recruiter to dial back the candidate experience. It may well be the recruiter’s personal investment — it will certainly be something the business has spent time and money on.

Catch-22. With that, you have a group of trapped in-house recruiters, working in a role they want to deliver, but delivering something to candidates they are uncomfortable selling for a business they no longer have faith in. For this group, there often really is only one option, which is finding a new home. That is fraught with risk.

What if the candidate experience is great but is papering over the cracks of a creaking workplace? A good candidate experience is important but it should not supersede an honest assessment of the working environment.
We’re moving into the next age where the day-to-day work experience will be increasingly important when people are deciding where to work, facilitated by the likes of jobs and recruiting marketplace Glassdoor. We need to embrace this as an attraction and assessment tool, not fear it, because for recruiters it’s going to shape our own experience.

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