7 Ways to Approach Your Job Search Like a Salesperson and Win
How do you approach your job search? Ever thought of thinking of your potential employer as you would a valued customer? The idea of providing the best customer experience is getting a lot of coverage in the media. We hear about customers wanting to be wowed and needing the vendors, restaurants, and service providers they depend on to go the extra mile to win their business. Businesses are doing all they can to ensure that at every touch point, customers are getting their very best services and products and that every interaction leads them closer to brand loyalty and affinity.
What if you were to apply those same principals to your career transition? What are some ways you can create a 5-Star customer experience with every recruiter, hiring manager and team member who sees your resume or meets you in an interview? How could you wow those you meet and make them think of you as the trusted resource and expert they want on the team?
When you start thinking of your job search as a sales opportunity to a potential VIP customer, you’ll want a few tools to make sure you win the business. Here are 7 sure-fire ways to up your job search game:
#1: Create memorable networking interactions
The best sales people try to find ways to help people realize how much they need what they are selling. To do that, the sales representative must first make a personal connection and listen to the customer. The same can be true of networking. If you can approach networking with the goal of giving someone else a great experience instead of networking to get something for yourself, you may find that you don’t even need to ask for help—people will give it unsolicited. Create a personal connection by asking the people you’re networking with about their careers, work, or personal lives. Find out what matters to them most and what challenges keep them up at night.
Once you understand their needs and questions, ask what you can do to help them solve a problem or accomplish a goal. Can you connect them with a great marketing person? Can you refer them to software for better inventory management? Can you share ideas with them about ways you tackled a pesky Wi-Fi issue in your home?
During that conversation, share enough about yourself to form a bond and find reasons to check back in every few months.
#2 Engage in interesting small talk
Every great sales person I know talks to everyone around them. While you may not be as gregarious as most sales reps, set goals to go out of your way to connect with other people. An easy way to start is with small talk. To begin, be curious about their lives. Use small talk as an opening to bigger conversations. Still stumped? Here are some great examples of small talk questions to get you started:
- How did you fare during the recent rain storms?
- That road construction up on HWY 301 is a doozy – have you had to drive through there recently?
- Are you a baseball fan; I was shaking my head after that missed call last week.
Let these micro topics expand into bigger topics – about how storms impact business, how road construction ultimately improves infrastructure, or how sports is a great way to connect with family and friends. Once you’ve broken the ice with small talk, you can move the conversation naturally into larger topics.
#3 Share your expertise
Once you know more about the person you’re networking with – their field of work, industry, or professional focus, you can expand the conversation into areas that will resonate with them. If you don’t have much to say in the moment, explore the topic further and return to the conversation at another time and share what you learned about it. It demonstrates investment in the relationship. Of course, you already have contact information from your first interaction and you’ve established that you’d love to stay in contact.
Whether in a networking situation or during an interview, be a teacher and a student. Empowering others with what you’ve learned ultimately benefits you and as you share ideas and identify unique needs, you expand your own knowledge in new directions. Even if you’re an expert in your field, seek to learn from others. Openly explore others’ questions, perspectives, and opinions on a topic. As an expert, you use these explorations to understand more about the topic and become better at communicating about the topic in ways that resonate with people.
And finally, even though you may be a subject matter expert, it’s wise to be humble. There’s no need to call yourself out as an expert. There is always more to learn, and mastery of a topic is truly an open-ended endeavor.
#4 Market yourself well
Every successful company engages in marketing to raise awareness, create dedicated audiences and assist the sales efforts. When you’re looking for a job or advancing your career, you’re the product you’re hoping someone will buy.
Similar to a sales opportunity, when someone believes that you have the actual, precise experience they need, they will have greater interest in what you have to offer. Maximize this interest. Create SMART (Situation, Metrics, Action, Results, Tie-In) stories that generate a connection between your past successes and the challenges of the organization you’re hoping to join. Before your first phone conversation, have ten to fifteen clear and concise stories ready to go. Focus your topics and accomplishments on the needs of the employer. Keep each story focused on one situation or project– not three years’ worth of work.
Take opportunities to talk about your continuous investment in your topic of expertise and the sources, strategies, and methods you use to stay on top of your game. Give examples of your expertise. Whatever your strong suit is – technology, marketing, sales, accounting – be ready to share SMART Stories that demonstrate how you’ve used your expertise to achieve goals and solve corporate issues. Share examples that show you’ve built that expertise in a variety of settings, industries, and situations.
#5 Be your own super hero
Career transitions and job searches can be draining emotionally and mentally. Sales people have learned to bounce back from rejections and move on to the next prospect. It’s not so easy when the product being rejected is you. To get a little of your mojo back, try some power poses aka super hero poses. Here’s how:
- Stand up tall, position your feet hip distance apart, put your fists on your hips, puff out that chest, and raise your chin – just like a super hero would stand.
- Now repeat positive messages to yourself and enjoy the encouraging, confident feelings that come from channeling your inner super hero.
#6 Go all in
Many people in career transition will say they are giving it their all. They’ll say that they are doing everything possible and have nothing left to do. However, every now and again, it might be worth asking yourself if there isn’t a little more room to put in a bit more effort. Whether you’re currently unemployed or looking while working part time, successful job searches take time. Think of your efforts as a full-time job or, at least, a part-time gig. Dedicate some time every day to your efforts and plan on carving out a half-day every weekend.
If you can’t image how you might spend all that time, here are a few areas where you might find you could put in some extra effort:
• Preparation: Revise, revisit, and rehearse your SMART Stories as a great way to expand your transition efforts and give a little more. Your SMART Stories are essential to communicating the tangible ways you have made an impact throughout your career.
• Research: Stay on top of trends in your industry—whether related to emerging technologies, new startup companies, or economic impacts driving industry changes--knowing what is happening is key to having relevant and timely conversations during interviews and networking meetings.
• Company Lists: Now may be the perfect time to add on to your target company list or to reach out to someone at those companies. To add to your list, conduct searches online using phrases such as “[Marketing] industry companies” or “best companies to work for in [your target market].” Then leverage LinkedIn to see if you know anyone or can identify appropriate hiring managers for your field at those companies and send an introductory message.
#7 Tailor your resume
Another thing we talk a lot about at RiseSmart is tailoring the resume. This could be the difference between someone looking at your resume and seeing the general skills and experience they need and someone looking at it and saying “Wow! They’ve worked on projects similar to our needs.” Or, “This is great; they’ve worked with our target customers!” Take the time to make your resume great by tying your exact experience to the needs of your future employers and defining the ways you’ve contributed to company successes in your career.
Applying the ideas of a stellar customer experience in your job search can help you stand out as that professional who is the perfect answer to someone’s needs. It will take some effort, research, and preparation. Make this a goal as you progress forward in your search.