Like most other professions, there may come a point in your sales career in which you feel your growth has come to a standstill. When that time comes, you have an important decision to make: do you simply find a new job with a similar company, or do you take a leap towards a new career in a different industry?
If you are interested in making a larger career change, a business development role at a recruitment firm or staffing agency can be a great launching pad for success. Why? In addition to giving you the tools you need to further develop your skills and enhance your professional marketability, this type of position gives you a rare opportunity to break into an industry experiencing rapid growth. “The job market is arguably the strongest it’s been in years,” comments Theresa Mok, Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Corporate Human Resources division. “Hiring is on the uptick across the board, which has resulted in an increase in demand for our services across many of our lines of business. To ensure we can meet our clients’ needs, we are hiring for several roles internally, and are looking for seasoned sales professionals to help build and manage these relationships.”
While these are high-level positions, prior industry experience is not necessary. In fact, recruitment firms typically focus on a key set of transferrable skills as well as the candidate’s personality fit when hiring. “We work with professionals who have a wide range of backgrounds, and they all bring something unique to the table,” notes Theresa. “They do, however, all possess a core mix of professional skills and personal attributes.”
In other words, if you have developed a combination of the following professional skills and personality traits throughout your career, you have the foundation you need to transition into the recruitment and staffing industry:
Business Development Acumen: At the heart of it, this industry is all about relationship-building. That’s why a proven ability to not only identify, but also maintain connections over time is integral to success. “To do this job, you need to be prompt, focused, and persistent,” notes Jesse Siegal, a Senior Managing Director within The Execu|Search Group’s Temporary Staffing division. “However, you also have to be tactful with your communication. While strong prospecting and negotiation skills are very important, your job shouldn’t end when the deal is closed. As your clients’ needs evolve, so should your solutions.”
Excellent Phone Presentation: In a role where many of your conversations will take place over the phone, the ability to make a strong impression in a narrow window of time is key. Since you can’t rely on your body language to do this, the delivery of your message can make all the difference in whether your contact wants to move forward with a more detailed conversation or an in-person meeting. In sum, you need to be succinct and to-the-point.
Strong Client Interface: The ability to meet with prospects and clients is another critical component to success. More specifically, a track record of presenting your organization’s service lines, understanding your clients’ pain points, and proposing solutions that align with their goals are all skills that are indicative of a candidate who has what it takes to make this career transition.
Active Listening: In this industry, your ability to communicate effectively encompasses more than your written and verbal presentation skills. “Your willingness to take a step back and listen is just as, if not more, important,” notes Jesse. “If you give your client the opportunity to walk you through their challenges, you’re much more likely to come to a solution that best meets their needs.”
Enthusiasm For Learning: Since building a strong rapport with clients is such an important part of this role, possessing a natural sense of curiosity can take you far. “If you want to build and maintain a large client-base, your connections need to feel that you are legitimately invested in their success,” says Jesse. “You can help facilitate this trust by being inquisitive about their business and how you can better serve them.”
An Entrepreneurial Spirit: While you are working as part of a team, it’s also important to remember that you are ultimately responsible for your own success. In this sense, you need to have the self-motivation to develop your own personal approach and truly treat your work as if it’s your own business. Once you build your foundation, you need to have the tenacity to constantly push yourself to outperform your best day, month, and year.