Ask James Caan – Issue 119
What would you consider are your unique selling points? How would you demonstrate this to a potential employer?
When there is an overabundance of good candidates, employers are spoilt for choice. This means, grabbing the attention of a potential employer has never been so important, especially if you’re looking to change industry.
Take this example from Jas, a sales representative looking to move into marketing.
Despite gaining a Master’s in Marketing, Jas feels his opportunities are limited due to his location and lack of practical experience.
He asked me:
‘I have very little practical marketing experience, but how am I supposed to get my foot on the ladder without having to move away? Or do I look at it realistically and realise that perhaps a career in marketing is not meant to be for me?’
Jas, it’s an extremely competitive job searching market out there, especially in today’s climate. The number of applications per job is increasing, but so is the calibre of candidate.
For many sales people a few years into their career, the leap from sales to marketing can seem an attractive choice – with your Master’s in marketing, perhaps an obvious choice. And sales people have a wealth of skills that are easily transferable to a career in marketing.
So how do you differentiate yourself to catch the attention of a prospective employer?
Sales and marketing are very similar in many ways. Marketing is everything that you do to reach and persuade prospects and the sales process is everything that you do to convert these prospects and close the sales – both necessities to the success of a business.
But one of the biggest issues faced, is shifting your outlook from ‘what can I close?’ to ‘what can I influence?’
Consider what you can offer and identify how you would make a contribution to the business. Your sales career would have given you a good understanding of customer and business needs, in addition to honed communication, networking, and persuasion skills – all perfect traits for a career in marketing.
Show employers that you know how to harness your sales skills to succeed in a marketing position. What skills really make you stand out? Historically, how have you added value in a marketing capacity?
For example, instead of listing pure sales achievements on your resume, why not focus on your creative drive, out-of-the-box thinking and planning skills that got you the sale?
You mentioned in your email that you felt your location might be reducing the number of opportunities available to you. If this is the case, Jas, I suggest writing a list of everyone you know locally that is working and exploring the options available to you.
One of the best ways to find a job is through a combination of networking and direct contact. Sales people often have a great number of useful contacts so you should be ahead of the game.
When you’re restricted by things such as location, the challenge of identifying opportunities is multiplied, so you have to be as proactive as possible and take action.
Combine your investigative and entrepreneurial skills to discover vacancies and market yourself to success. Cold call businesses and find out as much information about the type of position you’re seeking. Start to understand the steps that may need to be taken to get to your desired career.
By expanding your knowledge of companies and opportunities available to you, it should become easier to identify positions within your local area. And remember to keep faith. You will get results and eventually, the marketing job you want.
Does anyone have any more tips to help Jas move from a career in sales to a career in marketing? If so, why not share them with the group below?