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Lead Sales Reflects About What He Would have Changed in His Job Interviews

I work in the educational industry, and my current title is Lead Sales for Educational Products. I have held this position for a year and a half. I searched for a little over a year before I heard about this position from a friend who also works at the company.

I relied on technology extensively for my job search. Every day I searched job boards and websites such as Monster.com. The local newspapers in my area also post classified ads on their websites, and I searched these too. I liked completing my job research online because most sites tell you how long the job has been posted. You can tell when the job has been filled because the ad or job posting is removed. I found this to be helpful, so I wasn’t waiting on a call for a job that had already gone to someone else.

If I was applying for the exact same job tomorrow, but with a different company, I would try to make myself stand out more by changing one thing I did. In the interview, I was too focused on selling my educational experience, and I should have been more focused on selling both my educational experience and my sales experience to match my experiences with the job description a bit better. Even though I had experience in both areas, I feel that I concentrated on one over the other.

I did use technology to connect with other professionals in my field. I used an online career service and job board that was offered through my local college. This online tool allowed me to search for jobs and connect with others who hold the same degree I do. Once I started e-mailing a few of the people I met this way, we started sharing information about who was hiring and what the interview processes were like. I think I was better prepared for some of my interviews because I knew what they were going to be like in advance. For example, one time I was warned that the interview was going to be conducted in front of a panel. Knowing this in advance helped me prepare for it, so I wasn’t as nervous as I would have been.

One of my interviews was a complete disaster, and I left in tears. I had applied for a job based on its title, “Sales Professional.” I thought I was qualified based on the job title, so I hadn’t paid much attention to the actual job description before going to the interview. I was so desperate for a sales job that I wasn’t worried about anything other than getting the job. Once the interview began, I started explaining my business degree and other sales jobs that I had held. The interviewer said that my sales background was excellent, but asked how I would handle the other responsibilities of the job. I didn’t even know there were other responsibilities with this specific job. The interviewer then asked if I had read the job description. I blushed and admitted that I had not. I was quickly escorted out of the building. After I cried over my embarrassment, I went back to the website where the job was listed to read the job description. The job description said that a sales professional was needed who was fluent in at least three different languages. I was mortified because I should have known that before applying. Since I only speak English, I shouldn’t have even applied. I read every job description after that experience.

The most important lesson I learned on my own about a professional job search is to speak up with people you know. I had looked at job sites online, I had read ads, I had sent resumes, and I had placed a million phone calls. But I wound up getting the job because of a friend. If I had mentioned to her earlier that I was looking for this type of career, I could have saved myself a lot of time looking for a job. Next time, I will make sure to mention my job search to family, friends, neighbors, or anyone I meet. Now I know that contacts can come from any source.

I did use my university’s Career Services program, but I only used the services that were online. I learned which jobs were available locally, which was important to me because I did not want to have to move for a job. The university’s program was most useful to me because I knew that the jobs advertised on the site were legitimate because the school verified job postings before listing them. I felt more comfortable applying for a job that I had learned about using Career Services than I did applying for jobs listed on other websites.

If I could redo one event from my professional past, I would have picked up a minor in college. A business degree will always serve me well, but I feel like you never know where life will take you. I should have added a minor in another field just to be sure that I had options for other jobs. Perhaps if I had minored in a foreign language, other job opportunities in the sales field would have been open to me. Or if I ever want to switch fields, a minor in another area would help me do just that.

About the Author
This is a true career story as told to SalesJobs.org, which among other interviews include an Interview with an Ad Sales Manager and a Vice President of Sales.

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