For the past 10 years I’ve been observing how women conduct a job search. And although my work has been focused on women, I’ve also seen how plenty of men search for a job. And the fact is that even in the most robust economy, I contend that a very high percentage of today’s job seekers would never find a job.
Very few people—even at the most senior levels—search for a job in the same comprehensive and professional manner that they would tackle a paid assignment.
And very few people realize that to find a job you have to be a great salesperson. Whether or not you feel comfortable in a sales role is of no consequence. Unless you are able to clearly, succinctly and persuasively sell your fit for a job, your status will remain “unemployed”.
Like many of you, I was never interested in a sales career. I don’t think that I have the “I can sell ice to Eskimos” persona. And if I don’t believe in what I’m trying to sell, I find it a difficult, uninspiring and totally not fun slog. When I really believe in something, though, I can start my sales engine.
Your job search sales job should be powered by your belief in yourself. You believe that you have strong skills and expertise. You believe that you have impressive experience. You believe that you have made valuable contributions. You believe that you are a strong fit for the job.
In a job search you are selling a service…your many talents.
Think of the best sales professionals you have ever known and incorporate their attributes into your job search. Great sales professionals are:
- Tenacious…they keep at it no matter what. If you’re a tenacious job seeker, you’re not working half a week, saying that there’s no sense looking for a job during the holidays/over the summer or losing steam after rejections.
- Resourceful…they always find new leads and “work arounds”. A resourceful job seeker knows that there are not enough days in the week for all the strategic networking anyone can cultivate.
- Persistent…they never think about “bothering” people: they persist to the close! A persistent job seeker finds ways to stay in front of hot prospects and keep a potential “sale” moving.
Ask yourself if you are approaching your job search like a low energy back office mail room clerk…or an energetic, tenacious, resourceful and persistent 10 times winner of the highest sales award. If you’re stuck in the back office, rev up your engines and start a job search in earnest.
- Approach your job search with the same professionalism as a paid work assignment.
- Be honest about whether your job search is suffering from a bad economy or your own job search approach.
- Recognize that if you believe in your skills and expertise, you can sell your skills and expertise.
- Adopt the attributes of the best sales professionals: tenacity, resourcefulness and persistence. —KAS
6 thoughts on “You’re Not Unemployed, You Have a Sales Job”
Fabulous advise! I think so many of us do not build up our confidence when job hunting and so the process can be debilitating – this does not have to be the case! Take that VitC and go for it – there are so many talented women out there and we need to feel more empowered- especially in this weird economy/political time! Thanks for the words of encouragement!
This is great encouragement, but seems to put all the blame on the job seeker for not landing a job. It doesn’t address any of the real challenges faced by job seekers in today’s economy. Those over 40, those who’ve been unemployed for more than 6 months, and those who have a high salary history but no higher education all face really tough odds of getting hired, no matter how good they are at interviewing and selling their skills. Attitude and personality are certainly very important in the job search, but they don’t often trump a degree or age or employers seeking the most skills for the least dollars.
Nice post. We all need all the encouragement we can get. Heidi – you also have some good points, but I think that Kathryn was just trying to let us know that we need to apply our full effort to our job searches. She’d have to write an entire book on how to overcome the age discrimination, lack of advanced degrees and being out of work for a while. Hopefully she’ll touch on these topics as she continues to share information with us.
Heidi, you are absolutely right that these are challenges for job seekers–but not insurmountable challenges!
What I have found is that many job seekers throw up their hands and say that they will never find a job because of these “excuses”–instead of honestly asking themselves if they are conducting a job search in a truly professional and comprehensive manner. (The Job Seeker’s Reality Quiz is a great way to find out if a job search is lacking: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9lives)
Age is an issue if you make it an issue (projecting a lack of confidence) or if you act old, outdated or tired. There are some companies that seek out younger employees–but that’s more the exception than the rule (advertising agencies, internet companies to name a couple). I know a 60+-year-old man who waged an all-out job effort–very strategic, no stone unturned, huge networking via Linkedin–and he found another senior-level job (in about a year’s time) when most would have predicted he would be “put out to pasture”. He was determined to find a job despite his age, the economy and any other possible negative–and he did. Others don’t because they assume age, the economy and other negative factors make it impossible.
Most employers recognize that it’s hard to find a job in six months. If you have been looking for two years without a bite, that’s a different story. Again, making sure that you have covered all the job search basics is imperative. The key is telling a compelling story about your job search and making it clear that you have been active, engaged, networking, interviewing.
More companies discriminate against job seekers who do not have a college degree than job seekers who are over 40. There are quite a few companies that will not even look at anyone who does not have a college degree–and that is a tough nut to crack. In this case, it’s even more important to make sure that your accomplishments(using clear metrics)are dominant on your resume.
Finally, it’s not my intention to place “blame”. My intention is to make job seekers at every level and salary range wake up and realize that often they are not doing everything they can possibly do to conduct a professional, strategic and no holds barred job search. Good luck!
What I take from your initial blog is a job seeker needs to have confidence in him or herself. Lack of confidence is projected very quickly in a job interview or even when networking. You know you are great. Let other people know it too by exuding that confidence.
Nancy, you hit the nail on the head. Confidence is key in a job search. If you don’t exude confidence in an interview, the potential employer doesn’t have the strong feeling that you will have the right “presence” on the job to interact with clients or their senior team. A person who does not project confidence also does not appear to be someone who will contribute to meetings, take initiative or help to advance the overall business objectives. Anyone who does not have confidence has to work on getting it…or risk a very long job search.