Hiring a high-performing sales executive is always competitive, with businesses angling to hire sales reps that will not just hit their numbers but be in the top percentile of sales. In years past, sales staffing agencies and executive recruiters would work with hiring companies and potential candidates to make the best possible match, and often the recruiting process resulted in the negotiation of an attractive offer package for candidates. But in today’s job market, sales positions are more sought after than in years past because there are currently more candidates seeking sales jobs than available sales positions. Sales recruiters are still assisting candidates looking for a new spot in sales, but much like the housing market, the seller or hiring company has the upper hand right now. So how does a sales professional stand out from the crowd to get noticed and snag a new position?
To Land a Position, Be Your Best Self
We’d love to be able to say that we know the magic charm for job seekers working hard to secure an offer for a quality sales position. And while some tricks do help candidates stand out from other applicants during their job hunt, the best way to catch the eye of potential employers is to be the best version of yourself during the application and interview process. Candidates can improve their chances of connecting with the right sales positions by being targeted, social, connected, prepared and consistent in their job hunt.
Gone are the days of crafting one, all-purpose resume to send on to potential employers. Potential employers use Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS to scan resumes for keywords and phrases that link the candidate’s experience with the job requirements. By creating a targeted resume for each job, applicants can make sure that their resume matches up with a business’s expectations so they can make it through to the interview process. But developing a fresh resume for each potential job can be time-consuming, so follow these steps to use a targeted resume for your job search.
- Create a “master resume” that includes all of your professional skills, your job history, and any relevant professional content that might be on a resume. This master resume is likely to be much longer than one you would send in with an application because it will be the storehouse for all of your resume information. But no one but you or possibly the executive search firm you are working with will see the master resume.
- For each application, scan the job posting for keywords relating to skills, job experience and traits describing the ideal candidate for the job. These keywords will be critical to crafting a targeted resume during the application process.
- Using a fresh copy of your master resume, narrow down your content to highlight the keywords, experience and traits that match the job posting to ensure your resume returns with a high match to the ATS. Remove content that does not apply to this position without leaving unexplained gaps in your work experience.
- Adjust your objective to reflect the job posting so that when your resume makes it into the hands of the hiring team, they will see that you are a good fit for this position.
- Keep a copy of each targeted resume in your electronic files, labeled with the job it was created to reflect.
When a sales professional is seeking a new position, networking is a very important aspect of the job hunt. Being discreet is critical to candidates, but connecting with potential employers doesn’t have to include directly discussing job opportunities.
- Attend in-person networking events and join networking groups to get to know others in your industry.
- Build your online presence with social media platforms like LinkedIn. Create meaningful industry content, make connections with influencers and industry leaders and interact with others on discussion boards or groups.
- Follow and interact with podcasts or other informational events connected to your industry to be visible to decision-makers. Not only will you learn valuable industry content, but you will also expand your networking pool.
In addition to networking, connecting with sales search firms is a powerful tool for job seekers. Find an excellent executive recruiter like Treeline to help you get your foot in the door of your dream job. They can take your most valuable qualities and experience and repackage them in the most appealing way so you can have the opportunity to interview for the job you’ve been wanting. Sales recruiters typically have relationships with those who want to hire sales reps or have a positive reputation in the industry for bringing qualified candidates to potential employers. And having someone with that kind of power on your side can be just the extra push you need to get that interview so you can bring your resume skills to life in person.
Another way to stay ahead in a competitive job market is to take the time to do your research for interviews. Delve deep into understanding the company’s products or services and what makes them unique in the market. Think about the interview as a sales call. Your research should go beyond just looking over a company’s website, although their website is the perfect starting point for finding information. In addition, familiarize yourself with the job description and prepare meaningful questions about the position that were not presented in the job posting. Treeline conducted a survey of Chief Revenue Officers and Vice Presidents of Sales across the US about the most important thing sales executives look for in a new hire. They reported that job seekers should be able to answer these two questions successfully based on their research and preparation for the interview process.
- What do you know about our company?
- Why do you think you would be a good fit at this company?
It can be easy to get discouraged in a tough job market, but being persistent will increase the odds of you finding a job you love sooner rather than later. Continue to apply for jobs even if you haven’t heard back from previous applications. Don’t stop to wait on a phone call for an interview with that perfect opportunity before you move forward with other positions. A company’s timeline to contact potential candidates may be lengthy while some companies that hire sales reps may move through the application and interview process much more quickly. Partnering with executive recruiters may allow you to learn about a company’s interview timeline, helping to alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with job searches. But until you have accepted a job offer, continue to persistently apply for positions that fit your skills, experience and interests so that you will have the best chance to stay ahead of other applicants in a competitive job market.
Staying Ahead of the Competition
Landing a sales position can be stressful when candidates are plentiful, but the potential jobs are not. But being your best in an employer-driven market can help you stand out from other qualified candidates. When an employer is more selective when filling an open position, a candidate who has focused on being the best candidate possible is more likely to catch their eye as well as make an impression on sales recruiters who can help leverage their efforts into a new opportunity. Being smart in your job search is the best way to stay ahead of other candidates on the hunt so you can lock down the sales position you’ve been wanting.