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How do I get into sales & marketing?

Working as a recruitment consultant, I’m often approached by people who are looking to change careers. They often tend to come from a financial background, but that’s not always the case, and they want to move into media. The problem is, they’ve moved a way up the career ladder in what they do (and have the salary and resulting lifestyle that accompany it) and are not so keen to start at the bottom.

This, unfortunately, is a big problem in today’s competitive marketplace.

What employers are looking for are proven hard skills – not transferrable soft skills that require a gamble. Yes, you may have experience of running a team, and yes, you may have managed budgets before, but if you’ve spent your career working as a financial adviser, you’ll lose out to media sales people when it comes to account managing Mediacom.

If that sounds harsh – well, it is I’m afraid. Part of this problem is the fact that sales (and, to a lesser extent, marketing) is seen by some as a career that relies on nothing more than the gift of the gab and a bit of creativity – something that pretty much anyone can do if given the chance.

That’s so wide of the mark as to be painful, but it is a commonly-held misconception. To become a good sales person, or marketer, you need qualifications and experience – the same as any well-paid job.

So, if you want a career change and are looking at moving into sales and marketing, what are your options? There are two approaches to take.

Option one is to accept a hefty pay cut and look for entry level jobs. Even then, you may find yourself missing out to recent graduates with relevant degrees, but you stand a reasonable chance of getting your foot on the ladder. Once you’ve done that, you will have to work your way up. Again, that might not be as quick as you think it will be either – you could be looking at significantly lowered wages for a period of years – and, of course, there’s absolutely no guarantee that you will be any good in your new career – or that you’ll actually enjoy it.

Option two is to invest in retraining, gaining appropriate qualifications to demonstrate your capability and enabling you to at least have a chance of entering at a higher level. Again though, be warned that you will be up against people who have qualifications AND experience, so there are no guarantees that you will be successful. It does give you a fighting chance at least, and demonstrate commitment to your new career.

If you’re looking at training courses and qualifcations to get you ready for that big step, I’d recommend Reed Learning who run a plethora of training courses for all manner of industries. If you are after something a little weightier, then the CIM run certificates and diplomas in sales and marketing that can really help you to stand out from the crowd – and give experienced marketing and sales professionals an edge too.

The link to this week’s episode of The Apprentice? Well, the hard skills required (namely experience of the food industry and how to run a catering business) was what pretty much everyone was lacking and that is what made it so difficult for them to succeed. Those hard skills, that actual transferrable experience of having done this in the past, is invaluable to employers and that is what makes changing career a challenging, but not impossible, proposition.

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1 comment | 26th April 2012, 09:34:07 | Posted by Rob Forsyth in Recruitment

Comments

Kapiram says:

Sorry you feel that way. Professional sales people acllatuy use wisdom and knowledge to guide people to the best decision, even if that decision is to not buy.I believe you are referring to the stereotypical, plaid-jacketed used car salesman.No worries, but you haven't met my team.

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