When you think about it, closing a sales deal and landing a job offer really aren’t that different from one another. In both cases, you have to identify the right contacts, thoughtfully reach out to them and convince them that you, above all others, are the right person to help them solve their problems. The only difference is, while salespeople pitch prospects on a product or service, job seekers are pitching prospective companies on themselves as a candidate.
Given the parallels between the two, job seekers can learn a lot from salespeople. In fact, there are a number of best practices that have emerged in the sales world over the years that those in the market for a new job should keep in mind.
Do your homework, no salesperson would ever call a prospect without thoroughly researching the company and tailoring their approach. Your job search should be no different. Your resume, cover letter and any communications you send should have content specific to the company and position you are applying for. Know the company history, future, successes, failures, products, competition, etc.
Go to the decision maker, inexperienced salespeople often spend countless wasted hours pitching to a person within the company who does not have the authority to make the purchasing decision. The same is true for job seekers. Identify who is the person you would report to, go directly there. This is the person who can make the decision who gets the offer. This is rarely the recruiter, they are the gatekeepers. They source and screen candidates but rarely have the final say.
Share your success stories, just as salespeople tell how their product or service has solved a problem or saved money for their customers, show how you have contributed to company objectives for your previous companies. Tell stories, people relate to and can visualize a story. Quantify, where possible, the results to show your impact. You want to make them feel confident that hiring you is the right decision.
Make it a two-way conversation, top salespeople listen to their prospects more than they talk at them. An interview should be a two-way exchange of information and not an interrogation. Ask questions to gain insight into the everyday duties of the job and company culture. Ask probing questions to understand the job and then relate your experience to help the interviewer better see you in the job.
Follow-up, follow-up communications gives you the opportunity to ensure your application has been received, thank the interviewer for their time, reiterate your enthusiasm for the role and restate what makes you an ideal candidate for the position.
While there is no universal way to guarantee that you get the job offer, there are a number of things you can do to improve your odds. Taking a page from the top sales pros might just land you your dream job.
Rick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice Rick has been a career consultant for over 25 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.
Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.
Contact Rick at: Rick@CareerDevelopmentPartners.com