Which Industry Do Staffing Firms Belong To?

Recruitment as an industry is not unfamiliar to the discussion, and one of the most divisive concerns among industry professionals is whether recruitment is sales- or service-based.

Why do people use terminology such as ‘sales’ in a negative sense while referring to recruitment? Professionally, the qualities that make someone a strong salesperson ought to be praised, but instead they are mocked and looked down upon. Recently, we discussed where recruitment should go within the realm of professional services. Indeed, that is precisely what it is: a professional service.

Alan McBride, the chairman, cited Adam Smith and the elements of capitalism to explain the key components required to operate a business: “Labor, Capital, and a Means of Production” or, as we prefer to say, “Men*, Money, and Machines.” Lawyers, bankers, accountants, etc., who provide the means to protect these elements, are highly appreciated and esteemed, but what about us?

Not that there aren’t some shady characters in the profession who deserve the bad rap they get, but in my experience, the vast majority of recruiters and HR pros are committed to doing the right thing by their customers and candidates.

Recruitment is a combination of both, but it also strongly depends on the type of business and industry you recruit for. Perhaps the unfavorable impression of ‘Sales’ over the past few years has encouraged a shift toward marketing recruiting as a more service-oriented business, but sales and sales skills remain crucial.

Recruiting success is doubtful if you cannot sell the value of your service, the prospects you represent, and the clients you operate on behalf of. There are countless blogs titled “Cold-calling is gone” and “KPIs are dead,” but there are indisputable connections between these factors and billing success. What the sector may be doing better is strategic recruiting, in which no call is truly “cold” since the consultants have taken the time to extensively research their market, network effectively, and have the business sense to reach out to the proper people. Perhaps recruiting is more suited to the “work smart, not hard” philosophy than sales.


The recruitment sector plays an important part in the competitive employment market of the present day. Despite the rising digitalization of certain procedures and processes, recruitment experts continue to provide essential experience and services to both organizations seeking new employees and individuals seeking new career prospects.

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