“The journey, not the destination matters…”

-T.S. Eliot

Of course, those of us in the twenty-first century can usually find this quote in the form of a cliché bumper sticker or an overdone tattoo. But when I grappled with Eliot’s words in the privacy of my own office, I realized that he stumbled upon a recruiting and sales gold mine.

Let me explain.

As the recruiting industry becomes less candidate-oriented and more self-oriented, poor recruiters are focusing solely on closing the deal – the BIG DECISION. They have lost interest in investing in the candidate, in helping them make small decision –  and candidates have noticed.

The same can be said of poor salespeople: closing the deal has become more significant than the small decisions needed before going in for the kill. Clients have lost faith in their sales representatives.

Both recruiters and salespeople should be focusing more on the journey – or investing in their candidates and clients to bring value through small decisions – and less on their payday. A closed job requisition or sale is only a byproduct of a positive journey.

The Big Decision

How can recruiters and salespeople learn to focus more on the journey and less on their personal gain? They must first replace the original destination – a sale or closed requisition –  with a much larger goal. Something a bit more sustainable.

In the recruiting process, the end goal is a BIG DECISION. The candidate makes a decision regarding his or her career, and recruiter’s job is to aid that individual in making the correct move. The salesperson aids the client in deciding on a good or product.

At first, it seems counterintuitive. By changing the end goal, recruiters and salespeople are more likely to focus on the journey. The key is to shift the lens from the self to the client or candidate. In this way, investing in the client or candidate becomes more natural.

The Small Decisions

But what does a positive journey look like? How must recruiters and salespeople invest in their clients or candidates?

The duty of a recruiter or salesperson is to help candidates and clients make little decisions that lead up to the larger decision. A small decision may include granting approval to opt into an email list, or be willing to consider the possibility of a better career opportunity.  The next decision could be reviewing a job description, when to send in an application, when to contact the employer, how to respond to interview inquiries, and various other matters.

While some of these details might seem insignificant at first glance, they create an experience that most candidates and clients won’t forget. This is a part of their unique journey, one that they might share with other potential candidates and clients.

Furthermore, a recruiter’s response in these small moments often determine a candidate’s response in the larger moments. Will s/he take the position? It depends: how was the candidate’s journey? The same applies for the salesperson and the client.

The journey matters. If you don’t believe me, believe T.S. Eliot.


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