Two Job Search Tips From A Sales Pro

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: June 16, 2008 - 5:05 PM

Are you doing everything you can to find the right job? Kevin Donlin gives some advice on how you can refine your networking skills and target ideal employers to sell yourself like a sales pro.

Kevin Donlin

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Every job search is a sales campaign.

You knew that, right?

Before getting hired for any job – from accountant to zoologist – you must first sell an employer on the idea of "buying" the services you offer as an employee.

So, the more sales tricks you know, the shorter your next job search is likely to be.

With that in mind, I interviewed sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer, author of several best-sellers, including the "Little Red Book of Selling" and "Little Black Book of Connections."

He shared practical tips, based on his 30+ years of sales experience, that can help you find work faster in today's competitive job market.

1) Networking, from top to bottom

You know that networking is the most effective way to find the best jobs. So, why are you still unemployed? Possibly because you're networking wrong, or not networking enough.

In most cases, right networking produces right results, which will motivate you to keep networking until you get hired.

And how do you network the right way? Start at the top, where the hiring power is, according to Gitomer.

"Look at the chamber of commerce or where the biggest business meetings in town are held. Go to places where people with money and power go. Try your best to bump into those people. Shake hands and say hello to every single person that you can."

Gitomer then shared his own networking story.

"When I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina 20 years ago, I didn't know anybody. So I began to network. I would get the paper every day and look in the business section to see what events were taking place. I followed a '50-butt' rule – if there were 50 butts in a room, I put my butt there too."

At meetings, Gitomer met and shook hands with as many people as possible, which he found the easiest way to make valuable connections. "I didn't ask people for anything. I wanted to find out what they did and see if I knew anybody who could help them."

Get that? Gitomer didn't meet and greet with the idea of getting business leads. He sought to help people first, before expecting anything. By priming the pump and giving freely of his time and contacts, he later got plenty in return.

Question: What can you give away when networking that will make people more likely to remember you with favor – and job leads? Examples include specialized information, introductions to people you know, or even your time, if you're available to volunteer.

When you network with a "give first, get later" mindset, something strange happens. You stop feeling guilty about asking for job leads, and you start feeling good about helping people. Which makes those people happy to refer you to others … which ultimately leads to a meeting with your next boss.

2) Don't look for jobs – target employers

Gitomer tells the story of his friend, a marketing VP who was laid off by a bank. "He'd been searching for a job for three months, and he looked desperate, without a real goal of where he wanted to go."

The problem?

"He was looking rather than targeting. I would tell anyone who's been out of work for two or three months to pick five targets – the places where you want to go work," says Gitomer.

Once you have a list of employers, research each one and its competitors, looking for problems and opportunities. Brainstorm for ideas and solutions, which you can turn into a white paper or PowerPoint presentation. Then, tap your network to arrange meetings with executives at your target employers, where you can deliver your findings.

The moment you sit across from a vice president and discuss the profits or productivity you can increase for their company, you are transformed. You change from being a job seeker, which is a position of weakness, into a problem solver, a position of strength.

In fact, you may never go on another job interview again. Instead, you'll be having business meetings with executives who are eager to hear your ideas.

According to Gitomer, people don't like to be sold, but they love to buy.

Employers are people, too. And while most don't like to be sold on the idea of hiring more staff, they still love to buy.

All you have to do is provide research-based solutions to potential employers, and add up all the money you can save or earn them, until it's higher than the salary you want.

Point out – specifically – that you can produce $1.00 in profits for every 35 cents you're paid in wages, for example. When you do this, you're selling money at a discount.

Now, what employer wouldn't want to buy that?

Kevin Donlin is Creator of Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio and others. His free report, The Simple Job Search Manifesto, is found at
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Kevin Donlin