As a new grad looking for an entry-level position in a company, you shouldn’t overlook the sales department as the perfect place to wedge yourself into your new career. You’ve probably tried to picture what life is going to be like after college. For most new grads, starting their careers means working from the bottom in their target discipline and climbing their way to the top; either through one company or through a series of lateral moves within different companies.
This all sounds a little easy when it is distilled down to one (slightly long) sentence, but as most newly-graduated job seekers know: this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Just because you have a top-notch education and an unquenchable thirst for success, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t hundreds more out there like you: a giant pool of talent that are all vying for the same positions you are. You have to stand out and get noticed to get your resume in front of the right pairs of eyeballs, a statement so often repeated that it has probably just become noise at this point. But don’t tune out yet, because in the face of all that competition there is a super secret way of inserting yourself into a company… and we’ve already spoiled it but we’ll say it again: sales jobs.
The ABC’s of Sales Positions
If you haven’t seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, you’re probably at least familiar with the oft-repeated line spoken by Alec Baldwin’s character: ABC – Always. Be. Closing. It is supposed to be the mantra of the salesman, the person who is on the frontlines of a company getting a product or service in front of businesses or customers. It can be hard, lucrative work — and that’s what makes it a great first job for a new grad student. B2B or B2C sales positions can have many more positions available than other departments, meaning that a sales job can be a perfect first job simply based on the fact that it is an available job.
“I didn’t go to school for sales, though!”
While that is almost certainly true, you probably did go to school for some other marketable discipline. Let’s say it was engineering, and EngineerCo has a job opening available for Jr. Project Lead – an excellent entry level position for a young upstart like yourself. However, because everyone is looking at that same job, the competition is tough and you end up being passed over for an interview. Bummer right? Yes, except that while everyone else is drooping their heads and dragging their resumes elsewhere, you’ve sneakily and expertly already got an in with the same company through an open position in the sales department.
Why Sales is a Good Starter Position for a New Grad
Once you score a sales position at a company, you have one thing that every other applicant doesn’t have: a job. More importantly, you have 40 hours-a-week at a job in a company that all those other applicants want to work for. This is the proverbial “foot in the door” that your Dad won’t stop talking to you about. Getting into a sales position is no small feat in itself, but the skills that the job requires are probably already ones you possess from your time in college. Social networking, an outgoing personality and the desire and capacity to learn are all necessary to complete higher-education, The best part is that a position in sales can teach you new skills that you can use anytime in your career, no matter what company you are with.
What Sales Can Teach You
By its very nature, sales is a demanding results-oriented position that requires you to know the company, business, and product that you are selling. Familiarity with the ins-and-outs of a business is going to give you insight that an outsider isn’t going to have, even if they are in another department in the same company. Sales requires you to be outgoing, knowledgeable and persuasive — three traits that you can carry with you to any job in your career. Looking at every sale as an opportunity to learn more about the customer means that when you do transition into another position, you’ll have direct consumer knowledge that can be invaluable.
Closing is Important
When Alec Baldwin repeated his famous “ABC” line, it’s more than just good movie writing. Learning to close in a sale can create a workflow for any situation in your career, and it doesn’t have to be a physical sale for those skills to crossover. If you are on a team that is pitching a product to your department lead, you are essentially selling yourselves and your team’s vision. Imagine if someone on your team possessed and has proven themselves with those exact skills. Now imagine that person is you. Hey, you just got promoted to team leader in our book! Selling and closing are happening all the time, from salary negotiations to convincing a co-worker to take a project in a certain direction. A sales job can give you those skills while you make money using them. Nice combo.
Networking can Supercharge your Career Path
“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” We’re really busting out the college-cliches, but this oft-repeated platitude does illustrate how important networking is for your career. In a sales department you are going to meet a lot of people, and not even on just the customer side. Turnover means you will be meeting new coworkers all the time, who may move onto other companies in the same niche. Meeting the right people and connecting with the right customers creates a personal private network of people who can help you transition out of sales once you are ready. Most first-time workers out of college don’t leave their entry-level position with hundreds of contacts, but if you play your cards right you can make your LinkedIn profile the most profitable outcome of your time in sales.
Starting in Sales Gets You Started
This is especially important if you are a new-grad in dense cities like Sacramento, San Francisco or New York: getting a job right after college graduation can keep up the momentum that shouldn’t be lost after school is over. If you can get a great entry-level job at the company you’ve always wanted to right off the bat, then you are in great shape! However, if you are like most people and the perfect thing doesn’t drop in front of you right after school, then a sales job will benefit you and your nascent career more than being a barista would. Getting started is getting started, no matter what the capacity. Your career will have lots of twists, turns, and opportunities in it, so waiting to start your career because you can’t find the perfect first job is only going to delay everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Big cities and big markets will always be competitive, so be sure to look at every angle when you are looking for that first big opportunity. Sales positions in Silicon Valley are a much easier entry-point than grinding through the crowds of people who are vying for more competitive positions. Get started in sales, learn the ropes, earn some money, and move up from the inside!
Want to talk to a recruiter about finding a sales position in areas like Sacramento, Silicon Valley, New York, or elsewhere? Contact Premier Talent Partners so we can fast-track you into the career you really want!