Tips for IT Resumes and Interviews from a Sales Perspective

Tips for IT Resumes and Interviews from a Sales Perspective

Would you like to maximize your IT interview and career leverage? Do you want to stand out from competitive applicants with a better IT resume? If so, the following strategies may be for you.

80% of Salespeople are Untrained

Have you heard the radio commercial about the business promoter who is advertising a sales training course to business owners and sales managers?  I have heard this ad on national radio for years, and the theme never changes. The advertisement claims that more than 80% of “professional” salespeople have never read even one book on sales training.

This advertisement suggests people who depend on selling for a living need to be trained to say the right thing, or not say the wrong thing, in a timely manner. It’s no wonder that somewhere in the 80% range (or higher) of sales people either completely fail or perform at less than desired standards, shortening their career and income potential.

A Cautionary Tale

Does effective verbal communication training only apply to sales professionals? Not by a long shot! I want to share with you an experience that happened to me in May of 2017.

I had just moved into a new house. In fact, the whole neighborhood was dotted with new build homes and families were moving in every day. The very next day I answered a knock on the front door. A young (maybe late teens) man was canvassing new residents soliciting (presumably representing local, well-known) pest control services.

Before I could almost say a word past “Hello” he blasted into my face every feature and benefit his company offered and every reason I should sign up on the spot, including the “biggest” discount the company has ever offered! This lasted about 90 seconds, which seemed like 90 minutes.

Whew! What just hit me? I immediately realized what was happening and politely thanked him and wished him success in the neighborhood. Obviously he had little to no communication training and was only following a script.

Now, let’s dissect at what just happened.

The young, uninvited sales person was asking a total stranger (me) to fork over an annual financial obligation to his company. In this case, a total stranger who has just paid a large down payment on a new house, a major closing expense, a revised insurance payment, the utility companies’ requested deposits, as well as bills to the Internet company, the trash company, and the moving company.

If you have ever moved, you know what I am talking about! I was tired of paying people. In other words, the timing was poorly calculated, not to mention the sales strategy. So, how does this relate to interviewing for tech jobs?

You are a Salesperson, Too!

What’s the solution for getting hired as a technician? One solution is to train on what to say, when to say it, and how to say it – the same way salespeople are trained. Have you ever considered applying for a position from a salesperson’s perspective? If not, maybe it’s time.

Developing and perfecting timely verbal skills is an asset that can carry you throughout life. Specifically, develop and practice on how to construct wording on a resume and how to respond to questions in an interview. Consider learning these skills from a “selling” perspective. It’s actually easier than you might think.

Remember! You are selling yourself to an employer. You are a salesperson, for now and always. It does not matter what position you are applying for. Even if your job description is not described as a “selling representative,” you are still representing yourself (your department, your company) as an effective prospect and effective employee post hire. Many people construe being friendly as a skill. It is not. Being friendly is a characteristic, not a skill. Everybody can be friendly, but only the practiced can convert their amiable nature into an effective skill set.

New Trend in the 1990’s: A Need for Individuals with Two Skill Sets

By the 1990’s, organizations of all kinds were implementing PCs and networks at an increasing rate. More and more companies were finding the advantages of operating their own LANs and IT departments. Companies and organizations needed more competent people to operate them. As the need for more technical personnel evolved, the need for people-oriented technicians evolved too. Industries everywhere were screaming for people with technical knowledge that also had the ability to work appropriately with people.

But there were few individuals who combined both effective people skills and technical skills. Those that did vaulted to high-income status. The fact is – people skills and technical skills are two completely separate skill sets. And each skill set needs to be developed (or trained) separately.

Adding some sales techniques to your skillset can help you nail interviews and propel your career to new heights. So let’s get started!

Tips from the Sales Perspective for Resumes and Job Interviews

I’ve read many books on selling, including authors Tom Hopkins and Zig Ziglar. What I’ve learned from these writings, even though I consider myself a tech and not a salesperson, is that getting what I want is much easier with just a few strategic and timely words.

Selling strategies provide tips on how to get more of the things you want out of life with less effort (fewer words). All you have to do is learn a few strategies and timing for those strategies. And I’m all for that! What about you?

The following are tips I have gleaned from reading best-selling and communication materials (not from resume-building and interview developing resources) that can help all of us IT professionals obtain and keep the career position we desire.

Tips for Resume Writing from the Sales Perspective

1. Create a list of every skill or duty you have performed at each previous position.

This is also known as a skills assessment. Some listed items might seem totally insignificant at the time, and most likely would never be shared in an interview or on a resume. But you never can predict when any one of these seemingly insignificant assets might get you hired. (See the next step to consider when these might apply.)

2. Put “Page 1” material on Page 1, not on Page 2.

Do not blow past this step. Read it carefully. Put “page one” material on Page 1, not on Page 2. In this step, “pages” are a metaphor, not specifically the number of pages constructed for a resume. Some of your assets will belong on “Page 1,” some on “Page 2,” and some on “Page 3.”

Carefully analyze what the potential employer desires (in the job description area) in a new hire. For example, if they are looking for certifications place them on the first page, along with any other educational or experience requirements.

Page 2 information might include length of time at an employer, or the total experience you may have had with you certification experience.

Page 3 information might include any continuing education or related training experience. This is not typically shared at a first interview, like Page 1 info would be. Page 3 information should only be shared at a very strategic time when the information would be totally relevant to the conversation. This might only occur during a third (or final) interview.

3. Present your personal history in a hierarchical format.

Short, abbreviated information on Page 1, and slightly more detail can be provided on Page 2. Page 3 information ideally should include supporting information in more detail than provided on Page 1 and Page 2. The same format can be applied for a personal interview. Provide general “overview” information at first. As an interview becomes more in depth, begin to share more detailed information.

This is the best time to provide more detailed (Page 3) information because this is when the interviewer is ready to “hear” you. If an interviewer is not ready to receive your responses, he/she will not “hear” you. I was not ready to “hear” what the young pest control sales person was offering. Result: no sale.

Short, simple, and direct is a good formula for developing a resume. This is how “selling” works. Provide the most relevant content on page 1. If more information is desired, provide it (Page 2). If still more information is desired, then provide it (Page 3).

Poser, Amateur, or Professional?

During a job interview, chances are your interviewer is subconsciously or consciously trying to determine if you are a poser, amateur, or professional. Which of these images do you want portray? More importantly, which of these do you want to be?

Practiced responses can assist in determining how an interviewer perceives you. Professionals are people who have practiced! Professional sales people are people who have practiced their sales pitch. Professional musicians are people who have practiced their instrument and music, or they would not be in the band! We techs also have to practice our verbal/people skills to sustain our technical careers at the highest level. Here are some tips on becoming that professional.

Start with reading just one book on selling.

You can easily pick up a used book for pennies. Again, some of my favorite authors include Tom Hopkins and Zig Ziglar. Another great resource is Dr. Stephen Covey’s international bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Read and practice what you have read. I know of few successful people who have not read this book. I even took his fantastic course.

Strategically place your verbal communications in the most appropriate and timely manner.

To demonstrate this strategy, consider these simple military and hiking strategies.The enemy is attacking. You have 10,000 rounds of ammunition. They are just in range of your firepower. Do you want to expend most of your ammunition just because you can reach them at a great distance? Or do you want to save some or most of your ammunition in case you have to engage them at close quarters? This is like saving some information for “Page 3” or the third interview.

You venture on a three-day hike in the mountains. Do you want to eat all your food on the first day, or do you want to ration food resources for the entire excursion?

Writing resumes and interviewing for a new position are very similar. You have a number of assets that can help your prospective employer determine if you are a good fit for a particular position. Direct, specific, and timely answers to questions can be much more convincing during the interview process, rather than randomly expounding all of your assets at less than a timely manner.

Are You Ready to Interview?

When you are sitting across from an interviewer or writing a resume, do you want the person considering your skill set to think of you as a poser, amateur, or professional?

We can do better.  Let’s learn from the history (mistakes) of others. History is “screaming” that we need to be appropriately discerning how we verbalize communication to potential employers, coworkers, family members, and to anyone else we encounter. History has shown the value of combining technical knowledge with good interpersonal skills. Study, practice, and perform.

If you need help brushing up on your technical skills, LeaderQuest can get you the training you need. To request more information on our IT, cyber security and networking training, click the link below!