A Career In Sales
I love information technology. I’ve been fortunate, in that I’ve always known what I wanted to do [professionally] and then be able to pursue that with vigor and passion. Over time, as I move up and through my career ladder, I’ve deliberately aligned myself with people who’ve garnered my respect, and conversely, people who recognize my values. As such, I’ve worked for a series of companies fitting a certain profile. Until recently… with some changes in my [personal] life, I suddenly find myself craving something different, something outside of what I’ve known. Making career changes is not the simplest of tasks and required that I exercise some skills I’ve not used in some time.
For one thing, I had gotten rusty at interviewing. Not because I haven’t had to apply for one position or another over time, but because I had selectively favored companies whose audience already favored what it is that I do. I hadn’t needed to walk into a cold room, as there often is an insider recommendation easing my application for employment. This time, it was different. Or the same. I had just forgotten. I’m back at the catch-22 of starting out — wanting a position without the exact experience required, and wanting the experience without some prior qualified position — remember that period of your life? Luckily, my fellow feyn-mates worked with me on re-activating and exercising those dormant muscles of selling my highlights to the prospective (hiring) audience. As engineers, we are not foreign to the concept of sales. I don’t just mean working with the sales team down the hall. Or vendors who routinely pitch us one type of wares or another. We ourselves participate in selling daily, even if we’re not fully cognizant of the act.
We are selling, when people accept the solution we’ve proposed. We are selling, when people adopt the practices we’ve been espousing. We sell to our bosses on time lines and deliverables. We sell to business stakeholders, even if it’s fraught with negotiated terms. We sell to one another in the team, in dividing up the tasks or assignments. For those of us who manage people, we sell the motivation for achieving corporate goals, occasionally. And of course, at the end of the day, we sell to our customers by reminding them how the product meets their needs. It may not always be slick brochures and rib eye lunches, or extolling past accomplishments and regaling perspective employers with an engaging narration — those things definitely help, incidentally — but as professional engineers, we just happen to be able to take the next step past selling sketches on a napkin. We do more than pitch. We can build it.