Have you thought about how looking for a job is very much like being a sales person? Think about the comparisons:
- You have a product to sell - your skills and experience
- You are looking for someone to buy it (or in this case hire you)
- You have to know why your product is better than the competition's
- You have to identify where you want to sell the product
- You have to identify who is buying
- You have to have marketing materials (resume, business cards, marketing plan, etc.) that entice people to buy
- You have to get before the customer and make a sales pitch (interview)
- You have to determine if it makes good business sense to make the deal
- If so, you have to close the deal
Unlike an actual sales job though, you just have to land the one sale (for now). You don't have to go back out there immediately to do it all over again the next day.
You will notice in the list above, updating your marketing material is not first. Ask yourself, how can you create the sales brochure and owner’s manual for a product without knowing how it works and why someone should buy it over the competition’s product? You can’t.
So before you update your resume and before you try to sell your product (we’ll call it interviewing), you have to understand
· your accomplishments
· your abilities
· your interests
· your personality
· your values
You also need to recall the things you liked and disliked about your previous companies, bosses, and roles.
Shortcutting this process will sabotage your job search efforts. Yes, I said that if you skip this step or don’t spend adequate time conducting this inventory, you are setting yourself up for job search failure. If you don’t know the value you bring to an employer, how can they know?
How do you conduct this inventory, you ask?
1. Ask others: People tend to diminish things in themselves that come easy to them. For instance, in my previous job, when I took over a new team, I set up appointments to meet the internal customers and asked them for their input. Not only did they trust me enough to share their thoughts, many of them invited me to their internal team meetings – meetings that no one in my department had been invited to before. I didn’t think it was a major accomplishment because people typically warm to me quickly. A co-worker is the one who pointed out to me that not everyone has the same impact. Ask family, friends, and former co-workers, anyone who knows you well.
2. Consult previous job reviews: If your bosses were good at writing performance reviews, they included your accomplishments and may have even quantified them. Gather that information.
3. Take career and personality assessments: Introverts will not like a job that requires them to be in front of people a lot. Knowing your personality will help confirm the right job for you.
4. Other: You can use one of the Aptitude resources listed in this blog or assessments provided by a job search coach to help gather the key information about you. Check out RightChanges.biz
Did you notice that earlier I said “for now” when it comes to going out the next day to sell again? That is because there is a new truth about today’s job market. That truth is: Your next job is not your last. You will be on the job market again. Do not try to get away with the minimum to find your next job. Instead, learn how to do it right and learn how to do it well.
Your career may not be sales. For now though you are a sales person and to be successful, you have to know your product – YOU!