By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B
If anyone asks you “What do you do for a living?” how do you respond? Most people answer with their job title and their company, as in “I am the owner of VF Transport” or “I am the head of production with MQ Manufacturing” or in my case, see my info above. Nothing wrong with this type of response but on the other hand it isn’t really the answer to the question. Saying you’re the owner doesn’t mean that you “own” for a living, nor does saying you are head of production mean that you “produce “for a living.
The best answer to the question, believe it or not, is one that most people tend to avoid. We don’t want to admit that the answer is something that all of us do, day I and day out, regardless of job title and name or type of company that we work for. Even some people who do this for a living call it by some other name as though there is some stigma attached to it. And yet the answer when viewed as a career provides those who do it well the greatest opportunity to make more money than any other career choice.
So, what is this answer? The answer to the question “What do you do for a living” is “I sell, I am in sales”.
The owner of the transport company sells every hour of every day. He sells himself, his products/services, his company’s capabilities and solutions. If he doesn’t sell his company will die. The head of production at the manufacturing plant sells his ideas, his boss’s ideas, the opportunity for advancement for his team, his vision. If he doesn’t sell there will be little or no production and he will be out of a job. And, as Director of Recruiting and Operations, I sell everyday as well. I sell candidates on great career moves; I sell hiring managers on great candidates; I sell my boss and other stakeholders on new and better technology that has a better than expected ROI. I sell, I am in sales.
This is a concept that is not easy for everyone to accept. Even those who are in a sales position (recruiters included) have a difficult time saying “I sell, I am in sales.” And yes there are those who would argue that not everyone sells and use as an example those starving artists who create their art for its own sake and would never think of calling themselves salesmen. But isn’t that why they are called “starving artists”?
From my experience in the recruiting field, the one group that has the most difficult time accepting the concept that “we sell, we are all in sales” is job candidates, active or passive. Most have been told by recruiters and career coaches that as job candidates they need to be selling themselves, especially to the hiring managers; that they are the product and that their resume is their product literature; that job search is all about selling and marketing themselves. All true, but very difficult to accept.
I have a suggestion for those job seekers who struggle with the “I sell, I am in sales” concept. Instead of thinking of selling just yourself, as though you were a product, think of selling what the buyer (hiring manager) needs. Think of selling a solution to his/her problem since as we all know the only reason that a company is hiring is that they have a problem, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but a problem nonetheless. Think of selling an increase in revenue from a problem territory; an increase in collecting receivables; a better return on the investment made in a new ERP system; a quicker turnaround in invoicing; a better quality pipeline for new business; a better and more responsive customer focused web site with social media channels.
If you think of selling what the buyer needs, your chances of making the sale will be that much greater. Making the sale means that you will get the job offer. Now that is selling!
My hope is that someday, when any one is asked the question “What do you do for a living” everyone will answer “I sell, I am in sales.”
Now, are you buying any of this?