Monday July 15th 2024

Telling Isn’t Selling


I read a rather plaintiff and disturbing newspaper article recently which eloquently describes the financial and emotional impact that redundancy can have on a family.

Entitled ‘Jane’s husband doesn’t have a job any more…..and she can barely live with the shame’ it was written under an assumed name, Jane Simmonds, a freelance writer whose husband was made redundant and  has been seeking work for the past  four years.  During that time he has had just two contracts that lasted only a few months.  He also picks up the odd day or two from time to time.

The husband she refers to as Andy is very well educated with a History Degree from Cambridge, a Masters degree in Business and years of senior corporate experience in strategic management. So it’s not really surprising that he rejected his eight year old daughter’s suggestion that he could become a bus driver!

The article provoked a lot of online response; some was supportive but inevitably there were lots of spiteful comments as is sadly typical these days. But that’s neither here nor there.

There is no way that I plan to sit in judgement of Andy’s attempts to find a suitable job as I’ve never met him and know nothing about him other than what his wife tells us. So whether or not my following thoughts may be applicable to him I’ve no idea…..but they may well be applicable to you.

To give a little more background it’s worth mentioning that:  “Head-hunters are still calling with job opportunities. Sometimes they call a lot – three or four in one week. Sometimes there’s nothing at all. Each call is a possible way out of Andy’s predicament. Each possibility is researched in obsessive detail, prepared for like an Olympic marathon.”

And it’s the last sentence about preparing that got me thinking.

Is Andy missing the point?

People are more influenced by who you are rather than what you know.

That’s not to say that doing some research is not a good thing….of course it is.  But the key to success in any situation where other people are involved is how and what you communicate.

In a recruiting situation that may well mean coming across as someone it would be a pleasure to work with and to have on the team.  Not everyone is blessed with great looks, a compelling voice, a natural charm and a spontaneous wit. And you can’t fake those qualities either. However you do have attributes that attract people or you’d have no friends and you’d be leading a loveless life.

So what are the things that people like about you?

Don’t get too hung up on passing psychometric tests and rehearsing your answers to questions you expect to be asked if you are going to a job interview.  Think more about just being you.

I know that’s easy for me to say. I’m not looking for work.  However this is vital advice. I spent many years in a sales environment where I was paid on a commission only basis, so I know that you’ll never make a sale if you appear over keen or desperate.

What’s selling got to do with getting a job?


We are selling ourselves constantly. Being hired is exactly the same as making a successful sale. And people buy people first……they buy from people they like.

One of the most important things I learned early on in my sales career is that a sale is more contingent on the attitude of the salesperson than the attitude of the prospect. Put another way that means you have to go into any situation where you need to influence the outcome expecting to do so. That doesn’t mean wishing or hoping… means genuinely expecting.

Not being cocky or arrogant of course, but simply quietly confident and relaxed.

Clearly if you’ve spent four years getting knocked back as Andy has, it will be a monumental task to suddenly become sure that the next interview is going to be the one that lands him a job. But something in his approach has to change…..and my guess is that he needs to concentrate more on how he projects himself as a person rather than trying to impress with his knowledge and background.

That’s true for all of us all of the time.

In the recruiting process the interviewers have a need. They are looking for the solution to a problem. They want to make the right decision. If the candidate is appropriate in terms of fulfilling the skill requirements, and this would in all probability have already been established from the CV, then all he or she has to do is to demonstrate that they are the solution to the problem and hiring them would be the right decision. This is no different from any sales negotiation.

So the lesson is, learn to sell yourself!

Note: You can read Jane Simmonds’ article if you Google her name or ‘Jane’s husband doesn’t have a job any more’

And good luck Andy!


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