shutterstock_256659028ONCE OUR EXECUTIVE RECRUITING FIRM DECIDES TO PRESENT A CANDIDATE to one of our hiring company clients for an open position, we stress to the candidate that, from that point forward, she needs to consider herself as being in the sales business. The response we typically get? “Oh, my gosh! (or words to that effect), I’m a chemist, an engineer (or whatever), not a salesperson! I don’t know anything about sales!”

Certainly an understandable response, but also absolutely the wrong mindset to adopt if you want to succeed in landing one of the really good jobs in today’s job market.

Make no mistake about it, even though the job market is expanding month after month, competition for the very best jobs is dramatically increasing. And, in order to land one of these jobs, you need to learn, adopt and then put into practice at least some of the key skills and approaches that top salespeople use day in and day out to stay at the top of the heap in their profession. Thankfully, that’s not as steep a hill to climb as you might expect. (To learn more check out Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human).


If you’ve never been in a sales position you may have a rather distorted idea about precisely what it takes to be a successful salesperson. At various times during my professional career I have been both a salesperson and a manager of salespeople, so I know there really is not much “magic” about the profession. To loosely paraphrase Thomas Edison’s famous remark about what constitutes genius, sales success is far more driven by “perspiration” than it is by “inspiration.” Coincidentally, the same is true for a successful job search, assuming of course that you have the qualifications, skills and experience to be considered for any position you seek.


There are a number of traits that are common to both the TOP salespeople and the TOP job candidates. Typically, these men and women . . .

  1. Are well prepared and well organized. Top salespeople always do the necessary homework to determine what a prospective customer needs, wants and/or desires before making an approach to the potential customer. Then they construct and execute a specific plan to deliver it. Top job candidates also take the time to learn precisely who is feeling the actual “pain” of not having a position filled, as well as why they are feeling it. Then, they devise and execute a plan that will allow them to show the hiring manager how they (the candidate) can be the solution to the problem(s), i.e., how they can alleviate the hiring manager’s “pain.”
  2. Have a high level of self confidence, belief in self and what they have to offer. Both top salespeople and top job candidates always have a strong belief in themselves and in the value of the “products/services” they have to offer. They automatically and consistently see themselves as winners. The only real challenge, as they see it, is convincing others of that fact.
  3. Sell “benefits,” not just “features.” Most salespeople are well versed in the key “features” of the products/services they are offering. “My ‘widget’ offers you ten features not offered by our competition,” they may say. The top salespeople say, “My ‘widget’ offers you ten features not offered by our competition and this is how that can benefit you (and then, of course, they spell out the key benefits offered). Likewise, top job candidates say something like this: “I have ten years of progressive achievement and significant accomplishments as a coatings chemist. That means I can begin making a substantial contribution to your team from day one.”
  4. Always take the initiative, consistently follow up “leads” in a timely fashion. Top salespeople consistently and routinely initiate contact with potential customers, and then, they consistently follow up on these “leads” in a timely manner to stay in the game. (NOTE: It is taking 6 – 10 “touches” today to break through the “clutter” and get someone’s attention.) Unless a job candidate is in a profession where the demand far exceeds the supply of qualified candidates (a rarity), top job candidates take this very same approach. They don’t make contact with just one or two hiring professionals or companies and then sit back and wait for a response. Both the top salespeople and the top job candidates makes sure to keep the “prospect pipeline” full at all times—and keep feeding it!
  5. Know and understand that they are merely playing a “numbers game.” Top salespeople know and thoroughly understand that many, if not most, “doors” simply will not be opened to them during the prospecting phase. How do they deal with this known level of “rejection”? Simple. They just knock on a LOT of doors because they know from experience that some of these doors will indeed open! Top job candidates quickly learn and implement this same strategy during a job search!
  6. Are “in it” until they “win it.” Because of the aforementioned traits, as well as many, many others to0 numerous to mention in this brief post, there simply is no “quit” in either top salespeople or top job candidates. They know who they are and are firmly convinced that what they have to offer has high value. They are therefore 100 percent committed to doing whatever it takes to achieve their goals, whether those be sales goals or the goal of landing a dream job. Clearly, they are “in it” until they “win it.”


Unfortunately, far too many job candidates are really nothing more than “me too” candidates, i.e., they look virtually the same as scores of other candidates vying for the same career positions as they. Here is part of what characterizes them . . . they . . .

  • Submit the same tired résumé, that usually is nothing more than a series of previous job descriptions, to job after job after job, and then wonder why they get no response.
  • Use the same “lazy,” “To Whom It May Concern” cover letter to accompany their résumé, if they even use a cover letter.
  • Apply for several positions then merely sit back and wait to hear something—anything!—from someone (anyone!).
  • Do or say nothing that differentiates them from the vast majority of other job hunters.

If this is a fair description of you as a job hunter you really can begin changing things by merely thinking and acting the way a top sales professional thinks and acts. It will take some work and may well require a whole new mindset, but it nonetheless is still doable. Certainly it can result in a job search that becomes SUPER-CHARGED—and far, far more successful and rewarding!