Job Search: The Five Stages Of The Professional Process

By Simon Ward

The I Got Hired™ concept is simple: it pitches you, the job seeker, as a product, and getting a job as a sales process where you must sell yourself; the product, to the employer; the effective buyer of your services.

There are five simple stages to the sales process:

1. Research your customers (employers)

2. Know your competition (other candidates)

3. Design a great product (develop skills and experience)

4. Pitch your product professionally (apply for jobs and interview effectively)

5. Close the deal (get the job, the salary and the terms you want)

Let’s consider researching customers, or in this case, employers. Before applying for a job – and certainly before applying for interviews – research and understand the employer’s background. This means more than just glancing at the website. It means reviewing their website closely and systematically asking questions like:

– ‘What are the company’s values and do they align with mine?’

– ‘How do they treat employees?’

– ‘What are their products and services?’

– ‘How much market share do they have?’

– ‘Are they a leader in their field?’

– ‘What do their customers say about them?’

– ‘ What do their employees say about them?’

– ‘ Can I build a career here?’

Try to target employers you have an affinity with and to whom your skills and experiences and values are well suited. This is what recruiters will be looking for, so you will be giving yourself a head start if you adopt this approach.

Stage Two – Know Your Competition

All good sales people will research the competition to establish what they are up against. So you must do the same by researching the candidate market place and understanding what skills and experience candidates in the market place are likely to possess.

– What specialist qualifications do candidates have?

– How qualified are candidates in general?

– What level of experience do they tend to have?

– What skills do they have?

– How quickly have they been promoted?

This will tell you whether you are pitching too high or low in terms of job opportunities, or whether you need to update or improve your skills or experience. It will also tell you your strengths and weaknesses compared to the market.

Stage Three – Design A Great Product

A sales person is only as good as his or her product. In this case the product is you and your skill and experience. The most effective and successful employees are focused on constantly developing these skills and experiences. Even Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, still considers himself to be ‘very much a student’ and believes that continuous self-improvement and learning are essential to success.

Seize every opportunity for training at work and welcome challenging work assignments and experiences that expand your skillset. Teach yourself new skills using books and resources on the web. It’s never too late to get a degree; bear in mind that graduates earn 85% more than non-graduates.

Stage Four – Pitch Your Product Skillfully

Good sales people know that they need to pitch their product well in order to secure the sale and you, as the candidate, must sell yourself effectively in order to secure that all important role. You must act professionally at every stage of your contact with clients. Nothing and nothing should be taken for granted. Improve and tailor your resume for each job you apply for and prepare meticulously for every interview you attend.

Stage Five – Close The Deal

A sale must not be taken for granted until the contract is signed; every good sales person knows that final negotiations and closing the deal are the key part of the sales process. As a candidate, selling yourself (the product) to the employer, you must negotiate and close the deal effectively and professionally too.

This requires knowing your own worth, as well as knowing the employer’s needs and financial resources, and conducting a professional negotiation to secure the best deal you can.

But there is more to being a professional than doing professional things, it’s about doing everything professionally – the secret of being seen as a professional is not just what you do, but how you do it.