“When you go job hunting, always remember that you’re selling!”
That’s the refrain from job counselors, coaches, resume writers and HR people. I don’t buy it, because “sales” is misunderstood as a task by most people. They think of selling as delivering a brochure — or a resume — and then reiterating what’s on it to the prospect’s (employer’s) face, while they stretch a big smile across their own.
That’s not selling. Selling — and job hunting the way I teach it — is all about focus and knowledge. When you’re job hunting, true selling is about focusing on the employer and addressing what he or she needs. And then it’s about using the knowledge you’ve developed to demonstrate how you will deliver.
True selling is not about you or your product. It’s about the other guy entirely. A truly good sales pitch is all about the person who needs something.
Geoffrey James gets it, and he’s been writing about sales for a long time. He used to author the Sales Machine blog for the now renamed BNet. And now he’s moved into more exciting territory, writing the Sales Source blog for Inc. magazine online.
James teaches you almost everything you need to know about sales to address an employer’s needs so he or she will want to hire you. Start with this incredible gem:
7 Steps to Closing a Deal Via Email: He should be charging for this stuff. If you’re going to follow up with an employer about a job you want, this is how you want to structure your e-mail. James even gives you tips about what not to put in it.
Check out James’ suggestion for how to instantly draw yourself into the employer’s world before your interview starts: Forget Small Talk: How to Craft the Perfect Icebreaker. (Forget about last night’s game or this morning’s big news story.)
Then graduate to Why the “Power of Branding” Is a Myth. I’m not the only other big mouth out here who says “branding” is totally misunderstood and a waste of time and breath. Before you spend another minute “creating your brand,” consider what James suggests: Your brand is what the employer experiences after you’ve worked there for a while. Trying to “brand” yourself to get an interview or a job just reveals you don’t know where the value is.
The Sales Source blog won’t give you career advice — not in any direct way. But if you study it, you’ll realize that you can bend the ideas James offers in almost every column — to help you get in the door, to convince an employer you can do the work he or she needs done, and close the deal on a job. Sales Source is about true selling. And it’s a lot of hard work. Just like that great job you want.