How Thinking Like a Salesperson Can Help You Land Your Dream Job

two businesspeople looking over a contract

The moment you step on the job market, you’re selling yourself. Yes, you, the job seeker, are a “brand,” and each touchpoint you have with a potential new employer is an opportunity to “sell” that brand, that vision of your candidacy, the promise of yourself as a future team member and employer. Every resume or CV you send, every cover letter or email you draft, and every interview you walk into is a kind of transactional activity where you are attempting to convince, through a number of strategies, a new employer to invest in you, your talents, and your background. You’re selling, well, you! You’re selling your competencies, but you’re also selling a promise of the value that you could bring to their organization if they choose to hire you. 

If the job market is so clearly a sales landscape, why then don’t more job seekers approach the market with the mentality of a salesperson?

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For many, especially without any background in sales, the mere thought can be intimidating or, for some, even off-putting. Some people may imagine that this means being aggressive or gimmicky, although that couldn’t be farther from what really works. At its core, approaching the job market with the mindset of a salesperson means having a clear understanding of the value that you bring, a firm grasp on the needs and priorities of the organization or department you’re applying to, and the ability to clearly and powerfully speak to all of these things. Doing this well and successfully selling yourself to an employer requires the utmost sincerity on your part, and should never come across as inauthentic on disingenuous.  

So, how exactly do you approach the job market like a salesperson?

1. Do you research

Find out as much as you can about the needs, goals, or challenges not only of the department you’d be working in but also the wider company or organization as a whole. By figuring out what their main priorities are, you’ll be better prepared to frame your candidacy around these needs and present yourself as a real “value add” to the company.

2. Ask great questions

When you’re in the interview, ask a number of questions to the hiring manager or committee around what they’d like to accomplish and their specific needs. By showing a sincere, authentic interest in trying to understand their pain points and the goals they’d like to meet, you’ll come across as genuinely concerned about the organization and you’ll also be able to zero in – in person and in real time – on where you can add the most value.

3. Understand your own value

Job candidates who have a holistic, deep understanding of their strengths (not just hard skills here, but soft skills and personality or character traits as well) make the best candidates. When you’re prepping for the interview, don’t spend all of your time researching the employer. Take a few minutes to reflect on your own unique strengths and how best to communicate these attributes. When you’re in the interview, these will become your “selling points,” as you clearly lay out the benefits the employer will gain if they bring you onboard.

4. Know how to communicate that value

The most successful job interviews happen when candidates know how to skillfully and persuasively draw clear, powerful, and meaningful connections between what the employer needs and what they, as a potential new employee, has to offer. Once you’ve done your research on the company and thought about your own strengths, it’s time to lay out exactly how your skills and experiences respond directly to what the interviewer is looking for. When you get to this point, be clear and specific – this is where you’re really “selling” yourself and your candidacy.

5. Be prepared for push-back

Anticipate objections your interviewer might raise, and give thought to how you will turn any potential “negatives” around your candidacy into “positives.” Remain confident, calm, and upbeat when you’re challenged in the interview or questioned on any gaps in your resume, and use those potentially awkward moments as opportunities to reframe or redirect the discussion in your favor by highlighting your strengths and value. A great salesperson always handles objections or negative feedback with ease and finesse, using this moment to clearly lay out the benefits of what they’re selling… in this case, yourself.

6. Be a good “closer”

The end of the interview is a great opportunity to reiterate your strongest points or circle back and address any areas you may have faltered earlier in the interview. Remember to keep up your energy and confidence levels even to the very end of the interview – it’s human nature for people to remember their final interactions with someone, so make sure you’re presenting your best self even in the last moments of the meeting. It’s also an appropriate time, along with asking about next steps, to convey your enthusiasm around the position (remember, they want to know if you’re as interested in them as they are in you). So, now that you know a little more about the role and the organization through the interview, you can reiterate what a wonderful opportunity you think it is and how perfectly suited you are for the role.

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