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Selling the Sizzle, Winning the Talent


Why do you choose one restaurant over another? It’s likely not the price—or at least not just the price—because most restaurants charge about the same as their competition. Location probably factors into your decision, although restaurants tend to set up in areas where there are a variety of dining options. It’s probably not even the menu; most burger places have similar options, steakhouses serve the same cuts, and Italian restaurants tend to serve many of the same dishes.

Telling candidates what’s in it for them is key to sparking their interest and filling clients’ open jobs.

You have many choices when deciding where to eat, and the more attractive or unique the restaurant appears to be, the more likely you are to choose that establishment. The restaurants that are the
most appealing tend to thrive, while the ones that do little to differentiate themselves struggle and frequently go out of business. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak” is an old marketing adage that means the focus should be on the experience, not the specifics.

The same concept applies when recruiting, and yet we almost always lead with the tasks the candidates will perform on the job, not how they will feel and benefit. Too often, job postings read like wish lists and job descriptions, rather than as a marketing tool to attract applicants. If restaurants were to take the same approach as we do in advertising our jobs, their ads would sound something like this:

  • Read a menu and select items for consuming
  • Eat your meal withia reasonable amount of time
  • Review and pay the bill

The ideal customer must possess the following:

  • A friendly and positive attitude toward all staff
  • Appreciatiofor the opportunity to dine with us
  • Ability to eat quickly so we caturthe table for more paying customers
  • Adequate financial resources to pay for the meal (such as credit card or cash)
  • Generous tipping and five-star Yelp reviews are a plus

We are in an unprecedented labor market where there are nowhere near enough people to fill open jobs—and this isn’t a temporary Vaccine situation.

Customers that meet the above criteria can expect to receive a chair, a table to eat on, menu with items for purchase, a full range of utensils, and complimentary water with their meal.”

Really? Does that make you want to eat there? Of course not.

Adopt the Talent Perspective

The above may seem a little over the top—but it helps illustrate how candidates view poorly presented job postings. When we make the job postings all about the employer and job tasks, we are behaving as if candidates have no choices—and that they have the privilege to apply for our job openings, if they meet the right criteria.

How we advertise our jobs makes as much sense as the above ad for a restaurant. We need to stop focusing on how we want the customer to eat the steak, and instead sell the “sizzle.” What is it about our opportunity that is more attractive than other jobs? How will their life improve? How will they be treated? How will they feel?

Ask Clients the Right Questions

Instead of focusing on the job and the work an employee “gets to do,” focus on the benefits and rewards inherent in that opportunity—that is what candidates need and want to hear. And, in order to effectively communicate these benefits and rewards, we must help train our clients to think in these terms, too. Ask your clients the important questions that will result in the skillfully and strategically presented job opportunities that attract top talent.

Remember, an unsellable job is essentially an unfillable job. We are in an unprecedented labor market where there are nowhere near enough people to fill open jobs—and this isn’t a temporary situation. All indications are that we likely are in a decades-long labor shortage. There is no such thing as “our fair share” of the applicant pool. We have to attract and retain more than our fair share, and we can accomplish that by selling our opportunity better than others. Sell the sizzle, win the talent.

Tom Erb, CSP, is president of Tallann Resources, a national consulting and training firm specializing in the staffing and recruiting industry. As a consultant, trainer, and speaker, Erb has helped hundreds of companies create and execute sales and recruiting strategies to grow their business. He is the author of Winning the Staffing Sales Game: The Definitive Game Plan for Sales
Success in the Staffing Industry. Learn more Follow him on Twitter @TomErb_Tallann.

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<span class="publication-name"><em><em>Staffing Success Magazine</em></em></span> <span class="publication-separator">-</span> <span class="publication-issue">May–June 2021</span>
Originally Published In

Staffing Success Magazine - May–June 2021

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