I probably spent 25-30% of my time recruiting last year; It’s part of the job. I never considered myself suited for sales. I also used to think attracting candidates wasn’t a significant part of the job, but recruiting is definitely a sales gig. Especially at a smaller company, where you’re trying to build up a team, one’s ability to sell candidates on the opportunities, and win over other companies is one of the most challenging parts of being a leader in an organization.
One of my former colleagues always reminded me that “hiring people is a pass/fail exercise – there’s no partial credit” (paraphrasing). It’s also often a team effort. Any time I have someone come on-site to talk to a half-dozen people, I will coach the interview team on the “selling” vs. “vetting” intent of the on site interview. Things that move the dial toward vetting:
- weaker performance on previous recruiting touch points (coding tests, phone screens)
- a résumé with many open questions
and a couple of things that move the dial toward selling:
- the candidate is in high demand (multiple irons in the fire, or a job offer already on the table)
- the candidate is high value – strong match for the position and is appropriately priced
Of course, this is as much art as science. If you need help selling, consider looking outside your department for help. Having candidates talk for 30 minutes with the marketing or sales departments (whom tend to cheer-lead more than engineering-types) can go a long way toward winning over candidates.