As a job-seeker, your role is to market your good or service - in this case, yourself - to the buyer who is extending the best offer in exchange. Sound like sales? Essentially, it is. Luckily, the sales profession is full of superstars willing to share their secrets. Below are seven practical sales tips to ensure that you close the job deal every time. (For more, check out the Top 2010 Job-Hunting Tips.)
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1. Pass the Gatekeeper
Traditionally, gatekeepers have been admins, assistants and, in the case of job-seekers, human resources. With the influence of technology like caller ID, voicemail and email, it's harder, and more critical than ever, to get directly to the hiring manager. The key is to dangle a carrot before they can hit "delete". For job seekers, this means establishing credibility early on and how you'll deliver results. If you have worked for a competitor or have industry expertise, say so upfront. If you don't, reference something noteworthy that has happened in their company recently or research that has just been done in your industry. Doing so shows you are engaged in both the industry and that company in particular. (For more, see 5 Tips For Acing A Phone Interview.)
2. Know Your Audience
Sales people have different pitches for different buyers, and job-seekers should too. Technology today makes it simple to find out the back story on a prospective hiring manager. If their LinkedIn profile indicates a specific company or industry expertise, tailor your pitch to focus on points in your background that will be relevant and personal to them. If you can sense that your interviewer is stressed or time-crunched, don't sit in their office droning on about every point in your resume. State your core objective in the interview early on, and support it with three main points. If the conversation begins to flow and they probe further, elaborate. If not, they'll appreciate and remember your ability to be succinct when needed.
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3. Offer Excellent Customer Service
Customer service makes or breaks your chance of getting and keeping customers in sales, and the same is true on the job. In this case, your customers are the person you work for, the teams you work with and external clients. Just as you are more excited about doing business with a company that passionately embodies your mission, so are people you encounter on the job. Radiate enthusiasm and tell prospective employers why you are so interested in the job and company, and how you plan to maintain that level of commitment years into your career. Then, make sure you do just that once you've landed the job.
4. Establish a Relationship With One Key Question
Simply ask your employer "What is it that you want to achieve?" Then use this knowledge to address a proposed solution that your skills and expertise will offer in the position. (For more, see 7 Things You Should Say In An Interview.)
5. Always Be Closing
It is not likely that you will be offered a job on the spot (and not a good idea to accept one on the spot, either!) But good sales people are always moving towards the next step needed to close the sale, and so should job-seekers. Towards the end of your conversation, the interviewer will generally ask whether there are any additional questions. Seize this opportunity to close the sale. Just as a salesperson's job is to ask for the order, yours is to ask for the opportunity.
6. Follow Up
Stay top of mind with your interviewee and use your one last chance to make a good impression. Write a simple email within a day of the interview, reiterating what you can do for the company and thanking them for the meeting. Keep it short and to the point. It will express to the employer that you are not only interested, but adept at follow-through. (To learn more, see Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance.)
7. Network in Person
While tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have made it easier than ever to have plenty of social media and business connections, don't forget the power of a face to face conversation. Make a commitment to keep your "living and breathing" network as plentiful as your online ones. Join a club where you'll meet other like-minded professionals, strike up conversations, volunteer, or participate in local business events. While you should focus on just making connections, not specific leads, have a one minute "sound bite" down that will succinctly tell people about yourself. You'd be surprised how just a few minutes of face-to-face time can stick with people down the road.
The Bottom Line
Just as salespeople have formed a routine for effective sales calls, so should you as a job-seeker. Putting these tried and tested tips into practice can help you spend less time and energy looking for jobs, and more into developing the career you want. (For more, see No Wonder You're Not Getting Hired!)
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