A Sales Guys Take on the Job Hunt

Lately, I’ve had a number of friends send friends to me who are looking for work. I’m always open to meeting, however, I rarely have any opportunities to offer up. Once it’s realized I’m job opportunity broke, the conversations usually turns to network and improving the job search. I’m not sure why my friends send people to me, but over the years I’ve dolled out the same advice –treat it like sales.

A received an email today from, yup you guessed it, someone looking for work a friend forwarded to me. Thinking about my response to him, reminded me of an article I wrote for the Rocky Mountain News 7 years ago.

A sales guys take on the job hunt:

You can see it as you’re looking through the storefront glass. the shiny red bike with the banana seat and the cool slick, tires is calling your name. You can picture the feel of the bike under you as you’re cruising through the neighborhood on a warm June day. You imagine the neighbor kids who stop playing to check it out as you ride by. You envision the exhilaration of pedaling as fast as you can down the street on this awesome, quintessential mode of kid transportation.

Do you remember how badly you wanted wanted this bike? Can you recall dreaming of the impact this bike could have in your life — how you would do just about anything to have it?

Today’s job market is the storefront window.

Are you a shiny red bike? Do employers press their face against the glass, wishing you were available to them? Do they imagine how much easier their life would be if you were on their team? Do they envision projects getting done faster, new clients coming through the door and their boss slapping them on the back praising them for a job well done?

Those who are successful accomplish this. They instill these powerful images and emotions in employers. They get employers excited about them. They craft compelling messages designed to communicate their impact in an organization. They build powerful visions of success, delivery and accomplishment.

To be successful in today’s job market, you must move beyond the traditional approach and build your own vision of success rather than over-emphasizing what you have accomplished in the past.

All too often we provide information about our past and what we did, offering little in the way of future results or vision. Employers are left with the unenviable task of interpreting our past accomplishments into future performance. So, use your experience and credentials to support future action — not just past accomplishment.

If you area a sales person, talk about how you will penetrate new markets, or how you will shorten sales cycles and drive revenue faster. Offer employers something they need. Keep in mind you are providing a service. The employer should be able to understand quickly what you’re offering and why it is beneficial. Your objective is to provide the employer with a picture of you working for them, to create excitement about how their organization will be beter because of you.

To build vision, think about these questions:

-What am I offering that they need? This is core to creating a powerful vision. Employers have needs: corporate goals that must be met, projects to be deliver, markets to penetrate, revenue to be generated, etc. Communicating your value in terms of what employers need will set you apart from your competition. A vision that does not meet a need is no vision at all.

-What impact do I have in and organization? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself what impact you have in an organization? What is it you bring to the table and how is the organization affected? We have become proficient in explaining what we did. But when looking for a job, it’s the best to look forward. When asking the question, “Why should I hire you?” employers are not looking for your credentials but an idea of how you will impact their life, team and company. Be prepared to give it to them.

-What objectives do I try to achieve? Far too often we are fixated on our credentials, never providing insight to our objectives. Offer employers the concrete measurable objectives you look to accomplish in your role. Ask yourself: as a (my role) I look to accomplish the following: Providing a vision of accomplishment only improves your probability of success.

-How do I measure success in my role or position? When we are good at something we now it. We know when success has been achieved and and what it looks like. Success is an intricate piece of vision; it is the measurement against which the decision is made. Determine your “success measurements” and use them well. Tremendous momentum can be gained here. Spend time outlining what success looks like. Be descriptive, make it as tangible as possible.

Decisions are made based on perceived value. The best way to influence a decision is to is through a powerful vision. The best candidates are not always offered the job. Those who provided the most compelling vision of success will find themselves accepting the offers. My advice is to be both! Employers have a picture in their mind of what their life would be like if they could just find that perfect employee.

Paint the picture for them and remember–you are a shiny red bike!