How many times have you heard that metaphor? Job hunting is like sales, you just have to sell your own competencies and design your “product” to fit the needs of the “customer”.

If the sound of that phrase seems to have “contrived” written all over it, or it makes you shudder a bit, then you’ve come to the right party. Let’s face it, sales isn’t for everyone. So how do you sell your skills and talents on the job market when the concept of selling makes you wince?

We’re gonna dig into this one and open it up. This metaphor actually has some hidden gems of truth buried in it. The good news is that you don’t have to be salesperson of the year to use it to your advantage and present yourself with glowing confidence.

I’ve paid attention to how this metaphor is often used by people who are sales oriented. Consultants, career coaches and recruiters often have a passion for sales, because that attitude is inherently linked to what they do: selling and boosting ideas and talent. I confess that I’m part of this bunch. I dig sales, and I understand why this metaphor is so popular. That said, I can understand why it doesn’t motivate everyone just because it works for me.

Let me help you break this semi-scary saying down into three manageable steps so that it works for you.

When you just don’t like selling (or even the sometimes awkward pressure of being sold to) this metaphor about job hunting and sales can easily lead to frustration.

Fear not, friend. If the metaphor about selling yourself as a job hunter doesn’t work for you, it’s OK. You can be a great job hunter without learning to be a salesperson first.

Forget about the metaphor itself, and instead internalize the three most important points that it’s all about. Let’s break it down to the 3 most useful essentials.

  1. When you are hunting for a job, focus on employers and their needs. You are certainly not begging for someone to employ you, but rather you are offering your skills in a package that is designed to be interesting to the employer. This attitude shifts the attention away from yourself and makes you feel more confident about making a cold call or shining in an interview. You are offering something of great value, not asking for anything. Paradigm shift!
  1. You need to be active when you are job hunting. A majority of jobs are unlisted, and it isn’t as difficult as you think to be considered for these. You just need to be the one to make the first move. “How the heck does that work?” you may be wondering as you scratch your head. Follow the news to find out which companies are growing and stay aware of what’s going on in different fields. Find out who the contact person could be in the places that interest you. Set up meetings with anyone who might be able to give you tips or send you in the right direction. Remember that if you never ask, the answer is always “no”. Just ask!
  1. When you describe your competencies to an employer, you need to be able to condense them to address the employer's specific “pain points”. How can you address the areas where they need help and answers? Just like in sales, you need to be able to communicate to the customer the key points about you that are important to them. Build up a positive vibe from the first contact, and listen to their needs.

Pitching yourself to recruiters can feel a bit like a sales game. You don’t have to feel bad if that concept doesn’t really speak to you as a person, but you can gain valuable insight from it. Follow the three pieces of advice above, and you’ll be pitching with awesome confidence while staying true to yourself.