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Job Hunting Success: Learn How To Sell

I remember Bill Cullen telling a contestant “everyone is a salesperson”, during a series of The Apprentice. The last 18-24 months has served to emphasise his point. We have experienced a significant reduction in available jobs, and a significant increase in competition for these jobs. This has placed even greater importance on our ability to sell our product effectively. Having said this, I am not convinced that all job seekers accept (or want to accept) this point. I hear resistance on a daily basis – “I’m not a salesperson, I’m ABC”,” If I wanted to be a salesperson, I’d be selling second hand cars”, or “I am no good at sales”. It is time job seekers accepted that WE ARE ALL SALESPEOPLE! Resisting can only lead to one outcome – negative job search results.

Some points to consider…

Ignore the customer(at your peril). Most job seekers take little notice of company requirements during the job search cycle. Any good salesperson will tell you, understanding the customer requirements is the foundation for any successful sale. Understanding the customer when job hunting is easy – you don’t even have to ask probing questions. The job description outlines the customer requirements. It is important to understand and highlight how you meet these needs. REMEMBER – Company requirements determine CV content and your focus during interview.

Product knowledge is not important(for those addicted to rejection). Many job seekers cannot communicate their key skills and achievements effectively. If you don’t know yourself, then how can the HR person get to know “you”. Brainstorm skills, experience, achievements, and identify your USP’s. Do this exercise in the comfort of your own home, rather than under the glare of the interview spotlight. Practice talking about your strengths and achievements until comfortable.

Wait for opportunities to sell(if you have plenty of time on your hands). Opportunities rarely land on your lap. You must go out and generate them. You can’t sell if you don’t have a lead, and you can’t get a job without an opportunity. If you are no on the phone (or meeting people), then you are not selling. Get proactive and get hired.

You can no longer rely on skills, experience and qualifications to get you a job. The ability to package and sell yourself to potential employers is key. If you don’t take responsibility for selling product “YOU”, then you will struggle in the current job market. It is unlikely that someone else will champion your cause. You can become more successful if you learn and practice the skills of exceptional salespeople. Transform your sales ability, and transform your job hunting results.

Do you want to learn how to sell like Hector Sleazeburger? Join “Measurability Careers & Jobs Club” on LinkedIn” (A group dedicated to helping job seekers).

Paul Mullan is an experienced career and outplacement professional with 14 years experience working within careers, outplacement and recruitment in the UK & Ireland. He is a former owner of Eden Recruitment and founder of career firm Measurability in 2006. Paul has delivered outplacement programmes for many leading organisations and ran graduate career workshops for leading third level institutions. He has worked with many individuals helping them define and achieve career goals through creative approaches to personal marketing and job hunting. Paul integrates traditional strategies with new Web 2.0 strategies to deliver optimum results. He is known for his up to date, creative and friendly approach to delivering career solutions. Paul is a recognised career professional regularly commenting on career related topics in the national media. He has acted as Career Doctor with Irish Independent and he is currently an online career expert with RecruitIreland.

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  • Good one Paul.
    I’ve talked to a lot of people in the last few months that were looking for jobs. I gave them specific tips and ways to get closer to what they were looking for but sometimes I feel either I’m in a total different frequency or the other person is not willing to try. Maybe they just want to stick to the old school ways: send a “letter”, wait for a call, etc. That just doesn’t work any more. In fact I’m surprised that very few people think about personal branding. Many see themselves as an individual who trade skills in exchange for a pay cheque behind the mask of X company.
    I guess the “sales person” is something that they need to pull now, but also consider staying with those sales skills in order to progress and find better opportunities.

  • Anonymous


    Thanks for the comments. I have put my reply on audio. Love the idea of audio/video for job seekers and myself, but been putting it on the long finger. This tool (tks to Greg) is so user friendly.
    Listen to my comments …..


  • Thanks for the comment Paul! Loved your Audioboo! great stuff man

  • This is great advice! The same old no longer works! It’s your ability to stand out from the crowd, to differentiate that is critical towards selling yourself in this market.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Niall for the comments

  • Aaron

    Selling is certainly the name of the game. It’s important to remember selling is a process, therefore important to keep it simple and effective –

    1) Establish trust: The salesperson must begin by bonding and establishing credibility with a new contact to improve the efficiency of the interaction. Without trust at the outset, communication is inefficient and progress slow.
    2) Be upfront: Verbally stating intentions for the interaction including the anticipated agenda of the prospect and the possible outcomes, sets the context for candor in the rest of the process.
    3) Qualify: Qualify or disqualify opportunities by:
    a) Identifying compelling reasons to buy (hire),
    b) Uncovering the resources they have to make the buy (hire), and
    c) Understanding the prospect’s decision process and criteria.
    4) Presenting to fit: Gain agreement to present solutions, in exchange for a decision, to proceed or terminate, then present the solution in the terms that the prospect used to describe their situation.
    5) Plan next steps: It’s critical for a healthy relationship that both understand what actions each are committed to, to get the relationship off on the right footing

  • Audioboo is cool! Nice one 🙂

  • Nice post Paul. I think part of the problem is the people who are job hunting have an employee mentality rather than an entrepreneur or employer mentality, and yes, they do expect to trade time/skill for a cheque at the end of the week/month, just like they were taught in school. They are finding it difficult to see themselves as ME.Ltd and brand themselves accordingly. I do believe that our children’s generation will have less problems with it, as they are coming into that market fresh and therefore more adaptable.

    Re the audio/video – I’m not a fan, I find it gimmicky and really don’t like it. It’s not for everybody, however for those that it is for, go for it. It would definitely be worth checking out, where possible, the preference of the person holding the interview, if it were me, I wouldn’t be interviewing them unless their other skills were exceptional.

  • Anonymous

    Great comments MaireadYou are dead right about the need to change the employee mentality when job hunting. This quote from Reid Hoffman (Founder of LinkedIn) sums up what you are saying – “Every individual is now a small business; how you manage your own personal career is the exact way you manage a small business.”Re: audioboo – Certainly is a risk that it may not be everyone’s cuppa tea. I agree it is a waste of energy making a noise to get noticed without a “product” to back it up. There are cases where a tool like this may workCV is not delivering. I meet people everyday with great skills, experience and qualifications. They have a great attitude, personality, and want to work. These people are applying for jobs (CVs/cover letters) and getting no response, even when they tick all the boxes. The feel invisible – so should try some other strategy to get noticed. When you feel personality, attitude and passion are part of your “product”. You can’t communicate these attributes on a website or a CV. Or at least it is quite difficult.When verbal communication skills are a critical competency for a role. When you talk quicker than you type, like me :-)Paul p.s – kids asleep so I couldn’t reply by audioboo 🙂

  • Excellent blog Paul!

    Many companies LOVE sales people or people who can sell because they can ‘persuade’ and thats critical.
    In an interview, a busines meeting, whatever – a seller is a talker, they project this aura of likeability (most that is!). So being a seller has merits.

    Selling yourself involves knowing all your strengths and weaknesses, aligning these and your past experience with the potential role. Prove that you can do the job, that you have before and that you can take the company forward – be positive…easier said than done, I know, and it does take a bit of tim and skill to master.

    Great points Paul!


  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the comments Tina – It does take time and skill – BUT worth the effort 🙂


  • Karma indeed!

  • Hi Derbhile – thanks for sharing. Didn’t know about the online press release options – cheers for raising the awareness.

  • Jason Eke

    Very good to read, especially when we are in a time when a lot of small businesses a re struggling and feel that they are unable to competitively participate in a lot of current marketing strategies. As a marketing consultant I always encourage my clients to get to know their local media staff (where possible) and develop those relationships.nFrom my own personal efforts, I am now on the regular mailing list of reporters and editors for several of my area newspapers and through these relationships I’m often quoted in articles written about events that I attend. Journalists are like everyone else, they will speak with the people they are comfortable with.nI would add, that looking for an angle that makes your story or perspective unique is also important.

  • Derbhile

    Thanks for comments, all

  • Thanks Kumar. LinkedIn is a very powerful tool my friend. The key is to connect with specific people, publish good content but most importantly make the effort to “connect” (care). People in your network will see the difference 🙂

  • Thanks for the comment Mairead.nThere’s always going to be overlap. That’s OK. Make sure though, that you meet face-to-face as many people in your LinkedIn network as possible. It works!

  • Thanks David.nFor now, don’t worry about the number of people that don’t belong to your market. Keep those connections. Simply, going forward, try to proactively ask absolutely everybody that you meet face-to-face “are you on LinkedIn?” And then send them an invitation or connect with them. Over time, you will see how valuable your network is. This approach takes longer (rather than just adding random people online) but it makes all the difference because the professionals connected to you KNOW YOU and also know what problem does your company solve 🙂

  • I guess I could filter them by in inviting them for a drink in Dublin – as most seem to be on the west coast of USA! That’ll be a good test of “friendship”.

  • I guess I could filter them by in inviting them for a drink in Dublin – as most seem to be on the west coast of USA! That’ll be a good test of “friendship”.

  • your post is really nice . i am totally agreed with your comments. thanks

  • Any strategy needs to include the all-important follow up. No point in letting the trail just fizzle away into nothing after all the hard work of setting it up in the first place. Thanks Niall, I agree completely with your comments.

  • Thanks Nishada, Delighted that the post helped and I can be guilty too! 🙂

  • Hi Angie, some great suggestions here. One I’d add is exceptional customer service, which for me is one of the best sales tools there is.

  • scott_duncan

    I’d be curious of your take how I can achieve all star. I understand that if I don’t, LinkedIn won’t help in ways of being searchable. Any help would be appreciated. I was recently laid off after 25 years, so that said, my age also becomes a concern.

    Your Industry and Location (Check)

    Current Position with description (Problem here is, I’m not working now)

    2 Past Positions (Check)

    Your Education (It asks me for “activities or societies have you participated in as a student”. I don’t have any, and I don’t really think (IMO) it would be smart to say Auto Mechanic when I’m looking for an IT job. Wouldn’t it be best just to say XYZ Technical School. Then years attended comes into play. Age discrimination possibly. ???

    Your Skills (minimum of 3) (Check)

    A Photo (200 by 200) (Check)

    At least 50 Connections (Check)
    Thanks for your time!

  • Well if you want, I’d be happy to take you through a good micro brewery; you might quickly find a new taste bud or two! 😉

  • Lol – actually I do quite like a beer too. We have a local brewery here – Dungarvan Brewery Co – and they are doing well. I like their stout

  • Elish Bul-Godley

    Welcome Jason , and what a fun way to start ! – Your Shoestring note made me think of another new one ” We’re Bootstrapping” aka we have no money to pay you

  • Ha yes! Great one. “Insurance Poor” anyone?

  • How about saving in real money, like gold and silver coins? I am getting hungry for bacon after reading your post… 😉

  • I struggle to see gold/silver as 1.) real money, because it can’t be spent, and 2.) the long-term value is relatively negligible. There is no risk, so there is little return. Just my two cents. 🙂

  • Alex Wilson

    Hi Niall,

    Reverse Merger is a complicated process. The start of a merger is a rough road for the employees and for the companies as well. Bear in mind that it is a merger of two companies, you will be sharing not only the benefits and assets but also the drawbacks and the liabilities before you could see and achieve good things. Visit to know more.

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