Connections and Keywords are the Secret to Landing Sales Jobs

As unemployment lines continue to lengthen, sales professionals in search of work are finding they need more than just a resume and telephone to land a job.  In today’s market, they need to know how to make the most of online networking and job search tools.

The online job search site is one of the most basic tools for people seeking employment today. However, it’s not enough to simply post your resume on these services. You must make yourself stand out from the masses by sprinkling in the keywords employers are looking for when culling through the millions of other resumes posted on the web.

In fact, this is true whether you’re posting your resume to a job site, submitting it on a company’s website, emailing or even faxing it. The reality is that most large and many small companies use software to scan resumes for specific keywords. If your resume doesn’t include them, it will never be seen by human eyes.

One way to know just what those magic words are is to read ads for jobs that you’re interested in. Look for common phrases that you can work into your resume to increase the chance that it will stand out when hiring managers are doing their own searches.

For example, here is an ad for a sales representative for an IT solutions company. If this is the type of position you’d most like to have, working the bolded keywords into your resume and cover letter is a very smart first step:

We are currently looking for a sales representative to work out of the Manhattan office. Candidates must have past experience with selling in New York City. Responsibilities will include developing and aggressively growing sales through prospecting, cold calls and relationship development within a defined territory; developing and maintaining strong client relationships; evaluating customers needs; and establishing and maintaining a high level of quality and timely service to customers for maximum retention. Requirements include a minimum of 3-5 years sales experience selling IT services; BS/BA degree; ability to utilize a structured sales approach and methodology; proven success in cold-calling, prospecting, and closing business; ability to develop new business as well as maintain accounts; willingness to work hard and succeed; exceptional communication and interpersonal skills; excellent organizational and presentation skills; conscientious and detail-oriented; competency with MS Word, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint is a plus.

Don’t be afraid to customize your resume for every position you’re pursuing. The results are definitely worth the extra work.  (Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search now offers a resume service, so if you’re interested in getting expert advice, call 866-487-4156.)

You also need to establish a professional online presence. This will serve as the foundation for a network across which you can access referrals, recommendations and job opportunities. LinkedIn is one of the best options for building a professional (rather than personal) network. A basic profile is free, and lets you post your qualifications, build connections and join groups that share common professional interests.

Make sure you are diligent about using LinkedIn and other professional networking sites. Login at least once a day to search for new job opportunities – another area where your keyword proficiency will come in handy – participate in group discussions and invite or accept connections. And don’t be shy about asking connections to recommend you and make introductions.

However, even in today’s technology-driven world, it’s important to make a personal connection. Go to networking events offered by professional and community associations. Ask your colleagues and friends to introduce you to prospective employers. Then follow up on those introductions by requesting a meeting.

Finally, never forget the importance of thanking anyone who has taken the time to help you with your search, whether it was in the form of an introduction, a meeting or an interview. A personal note still carries a great deal of weight.

2 thoughts on “Connections and Keywords are the Secret to Landing Sales Jobs”

  1. Hi
    Very interesting article with lots of good tips. I always advise my candidates to adjust their CV each time they apply for a particular job.

    I also recommend attending networking events and trade shows to make the “face-to-face” contact and build trust and understanding with the the target hiring manager.

    One of my friends landed a top CIO job through attending meetings of an IT trade body and getting onto the managing committee where his future boss was the Chairman! I have also heard this work with charities.

    Always keen to network – have many contacts in Sales and Marketing in EMEA.

    MYC is a boutique recruiter focused on the EMEA market.

    Best regards
    Mike Knuckey
    MYC Search

  2. Excellent advice Michael! I am an avid networker and believe in the power behind someone putting a name with a face.


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