Job Seekers are Sales People

Submitted by: Tom Martens, CCC Career Coach Volunteer and MNG Facilitator

Something I have noticed in my one on one sessions with folks at the Center is a lack of recognition that job seeker are, in my opinion, sales people.  What, you say?  Let me point out the similarities and see if you don’t agree. 

Salespeople are trying to convince a customer that their product best meets the needs of that person, and uses their knowledge of the product to build a case for purchasing.  Job seekers are in the process of trying to convince an employer that they are the best person for the job, and using their knowledge of themselves to build the case for hiring them instead of another candidate. 

Having been in sales for most of my adult life as a salesperson and sales manager, I think that an approach to the job search that adopts some of the best basic selling principles could be a great help in getting that ideal position.

First, know your product.  What I mean is, do you know your strengths and weaknesses in terms of the skill sets that the potential employer is seeking?  Do you know how to discuss those strengths with specific stories that demonstrate the skill and how you were able to use it in previous positions to bring value to your organization?  No product is perfect, all of them have weaknesses.  Do you know what yours are, and are you prepared to discuss how you have, or are working to, overcome them?  Are you prepared to emphasize your strengths and minimize your weakness?  Do you have an idea of what kind of work situation you will thrive in, and what type of working relationship you would like to have with your supervisor/boss?  These are just a few questions to ask, but a deep self-analysis is a critical part of your job search I believe.

The other aspect of selling that I think is critical is know your customer.  Do you know what skills they are looking for in the position?  Do you know what the goals are of this department/position?  What will you be expected to help them accomplish if you are hired?  What are the needs of this organization?  Some of these questions can be answered by doing some networking with people in your target organization; understanding and analyzing the job description; and asking pointed questions during interviews or phone conversations with HR representatives or hiring managers within the organization.  

These two basic items add up to what I call the Value Proposition.  In other words, showing how your skills and experience can help the target organization meet their needs.  Start to think in terms of presenting yourself as a solution to the needs of the organization, and I think you will be putting yourself in a much better light than the majority of your competitors. 

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