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The morning you wake up with the inspiration to begin a job search is a little scary. There is the factor of the unknown. Yet, you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone to open the doors to new opportunity. It's been a while since you last looked for a new sales home. How do you go from where you are today to a new, fresh opportunity?
Know what you want. In sales, you often work with the profile of your ideal client. The same applies when looking for a job. You need to know what the ideal fit is for your sales pedigree. If you don't know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it?
Develop your marketing tools. Marketing tools? Yes, that is what a cover letter and resume are all about. When you think of marketing, you also think of messaging. Many forget this when they develop their cover letter and resume. However, these marketing tools communicate a message, a story. The key is to make sure they convey the story you intend.
While the easy thing to do is to create one cover letter and one resume, it is not the most effective way to pursue a new job. As someone who has screened thousands of these documents from sales candidates, I can share with you a little nugget of insight. Hiring managers ask themselves a simple question when they first peruse your cover letter and resume. "Do they want my job or just a job?" We know when you are mass emailing your marketing tools just like prospects know when you mass email them.
In sales, you are taught to make sure your message matches your audience. Sales is not taught as a one-size-fits-all, but rather a template that is adjusted to match the need and circumstance. When prospects feel that they are the sales call of the day, they don't respond. The same applies to hiring managers. Hiring managers are looking to hire people that want to work in their organization. They can feel when someone just wants a job, not necessarily theirs. Thus, when they get that feeling, your candidacy for the job goes into the trash.
The cover letter is one of the first ways it becomes obvious that you are treating this as a mass event. The sales person applies for a specific job, but the cover letter communicates a message that says they want a different job. It is not intentional on the part of the sales person. After all, they paid a copywriter a thousand dollars to create this masterpiece. Copywriters are very helpful to those in need of assistance in creating the story of their background. However, the effective cover letter recipe has three ingredients to it, making it somewhat difficult for the copywriter to unilaterally assist you.
What you've done. The resume is an extension of the cover letter. The message should be the same. Highlight the results and areas of expertise that are most relevant to this opportunity. I'm not suggesting that you leave certain jobs or employment off your resume. However, package each one as best as you can to convey the synergy between you and the company.
From the job posting, you can usually infer what is most important to the sales manager. Those usually can be found in the section of the job description that highlights the candidate requirements for the job. Include bulleted descriptions and statistics that map back to those elements.
While the work to customize these marketing tools may seem huge and painful, it really isn't. Earlier, I mentioned that you should start the search process by identifying the right home for your sales skills. The reason for that recommendation was to give focus to your search. It allows you to laser-in on those opportunities that best match you. Thus, isn't it worth the time investment to customize your marketing tools for those job prospects that are best suited for you? Wouldn't you do the same thing in pursuit of a major prospect? I certainly hope so.
Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right sales people, on-board them, and focus their sales activity using his sales architecture
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