You're likely to see sales positions advertised no matter what the overall job market is doing. But not all sales jobs are created equal; when unemployment is up, companies know that they can trim back their offerings a bit and still get plenty of applicants. If you want to get a job that you're not regretting within a month, you'll need to put your best foot forward.
1. Know What You Want
What kind of job attributes are most important to you? Do you prefer working closely with a sales team, or prefer independence? Do you like to have a base salary or enjoy the challenge of pure commissions
? Is telecommuting a big plus for you? Are there specific industries or types of customers you prefer? Make a list with the most important factors at the top, and then keep this list in front of you as you peruse the job ads. If you really need a job now you may need to compromise on some of these factors, but hopefully you can at least find something with the top two or three items from your list.
2. Prepare a Cover LetterYour cover letter – sent with your resume – is the first thing hiring managers read. If they don't like what they see, your application will stop right there. So write up a good general cover letter, and then take a few seconds to customize it for each new position before you send it in. Double-check that your contact information is correct and that you have the recipient's name spelled correctly.
3. Review Your Resume
If you pass the cover letter test, the next thing the hiring manager looks at is the resume
itself. A good resume should spell out your qualifications and successes clearly (and honestly) and also talk about what you're looking for in your next position. Like the cover letter, your resume should be fine-tuned and customized each time you apply to a job. One section that's important to include is your reason for applying to that particular job and why you think you are a good fit for it.
4. Research the CompanyThe more you know about your prospective employer, the stronger your position. A quick trip through the company's website won't cut it. Look through your network of contacts until you find someone who works or recently worked for the company. If you can't find someone, put out the word to your contacts that you need to find someone at Company X and see what they turn up. If you're not familiar with the company's industry, you should definitely do a quick cram so that you know at least the basics.
5. Collect ReferencesMost companies will ask you for at least three business references and some want even more. Get your names together before the interview, and be sure to contact those people and let them know you're going to list them as a reference. Also keep in mind that if a company is serious about you, it will probably talk to other people – for example, your former managers. That's another reason why it's important to be honest on your resume and in the interview.
When you're getting ready to apply, try to arrange it so that your interviews
for less desirable jobs come first. That gives you a chance to polish your interview skills and try out your answers to some of the more common questions. A little practice interviewing will make your truly important interviews much more comfortable. And if you blow your early interviews it won't matter so much.