Increasingly, the job search is becoming a job in and of itself. Specifically, the job search has become a sales job. Not meaning something so basic as a cashier or other retail job, but the job search for the individual candidate has become like a high-powered sales/business development role in several key ways.
Leads– An open position for the candidate/job seeker is like a lead for a salesman. It is a need in the “market” so to speak. A lead for a salesman is an opportunity to fulfill a need with the product or service they are selling. In the job search, the product or service being sold is the job seeker.
Cultivation– Any sales or business development professional worth their salt will have gone out to “beat the street” as it were at some point in their career. Depending on the industry, they may actually have gone door to door, calling on their leads to verify that they are viable opportunities. So too must the job seeker. A job opportunity should be fully investigated before an application is placed or a resume sent. Who is the prospective employer? What type of organization are they? What is their focus, the goods or services they provide? Almost every potential employer has a website which candidates can view and educate themselves about the organization and the potential opportunity.
The Pitch– If you’ve ever worked with or been friends with a pro salesman, you’ll know that if they are any good at their job they are very convincing. They’ve got their pitch down cold. They know how to succinctly and convincingly describe not only their product or service but why the buyer needs them and can’t live without them.
This is where the “job hunting is sales” metaphor really rings true. Over the course of my career in Staffing and Recruiting, I have interviewed thousands of applicants for hundreds of positions in dozens of fields. I can count on one hand the number of candidates who have actually sold themselves, who have actually told me why I should hire them and how they can benefit me and my organization.
Here’s the dirty truth, employers do not hire based on how badly you need a job, or the reasons you are without a job at the present time, or the circumstances that have led you to that point. It’s not that they don’t care as human beings, but they have a job that needs done, and in order to be successful they have to find the best person for that job. If you as a job seeker are asked by a recruiter or Human Resources representative “why should we hire you?” and your answer is “because I need a job” or something similar, you are not in the right mindset.
In my last column I discussed the keys to a good resume. Your resume should be a reflection of yourself and your value as a professional. Examine yourself, be positive, and recognize your best attributes. What makes you a valuable commodity, and why can’t your prospective employer live without you on their team?
Closing the deal– Now this is the hard part. Even the best candidates may not hear back on every job that they interview for. But they stand a much better chance if they have presented the best image of themselves. A candidate should be dressed professionally, just short of overdressing. They should be well-groomed. They should have a firm handshake. They should speak clearly and with confidence. Making the interview a pleasant experience for the person conducting it can go a very long way towards getting a call back.
Now, even those that do get a call back do not always get a job offer. Sometimes they might be called to be told that they haven’t gotten the position. This is disheartening but it is also a good thing. It means that the person that interviewed you had enough respect for you as a candidate that they wanted to do the right thing and not leave you hanging. Being “gracious in defeat” and staying positive even at this disappointing juncture is crucial. Thanking them for the opportunity is crucial as well.
Who knows? A similar position may open and they will think of the positive experience they had when you interacted. If it is a Staffing or Recruiting firm, maybe the recruiter will want to pass your resume along to one of their colleagues and open other doors of opportunity for you.
Good luck and happy job hunting!