Why ‘Features & Benefits’ Recruiting Isn’t Working


By Phil Harwood

In the world of sales, it is widely understood that selling features and benefits is not an optimal approach. The same rules apply to recruiting. However, much recruiting today remains focused on features and benefits. Why is this and what’s a better approach? 

The problem with selling features and benefits is that it fails to connect with the deeper reasons that people make decisions. In addition, competitors can easily match or beat whatever feature or benefit you might be highlighting as a competitive advantage. It also promotes a bidding war in your local market, creating a race to the bottom that nobody wins.

So what’s the alternative? The heart of selling involves understanding “the why.” It involves uncovering the prospect’s deepest motivations. What is the core problem they are trying to solve? Once we know this, we are in a much better position to determine if our solution is appropriate for them and, if so, to help them understand why it is their best option. A feature or benefit may be important at some point in this discussion but it probably isn’t going to be what their decision is primarily based on.

The same rules apply to recruiting. Applicants are not as interested in features and benefits as they are in understanding how your company is going to help them achieve their career goals. The key is to connect with applicants at a more personal level with a focus on their needs.

These two different approaches are polar opposite of each other. The features and benefits approach is tone deaf. The employer is not interested in what the applicant has to say or cares about. The employer is only interested in telling the applicant how great they are. What a turn-off.

On the other hand, the second approach is highly attractive. Here, the applicant sees an employer who is genuinely interested in their success and their future. It’s not about how great the employer is. It’s only about the applicant and how the opportunity fits into their plans. How refreshing. 

Here’s the deal. Many employers would acknowledge that the second approach is the preferred approach and they would argue that it describes their organization. But when you look at their job postings,  recruiting messages, and onboarding materials, the first approach is being utilized throughout.

In addition, many employers are using the same strategies for recruiting that they’ve been using for the past 5-10 years or longer. If you’re looking for a new strategy that actually does work, I invite you to take a look at Team Engine. This just might be the solution you’ve been looking for. 

Now go forth.

Tags: Recruiting , Features , Benefits ,