What Can a Kirby Salesman Teach You About Looking for Work?

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Baby boomers find job search success by applying tried and true sales techniques.

Not many people truly aspire to be a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, but baby boomers, thrust back into the job market as a result of company downsizing, may find quicker success in landing a job by recalling what the Kirby salesman said and did.

The employment market has changed dramatically over the last 20 years. Massive layoffs have replaced job security, leaving thousands of baby boomers looking for work for the first time in decades. The simple three-step process—fill out an application, interview, get hired—that may have launched a career no longer seems to fit. Upbeat television commercials for Monster.com create the impression that all you need do is post your resume online and jobs will come knocking at your door. If only it were that simple.

“I frequently meet with professionals who may have been with the same company for 20 years or more and are suddenly unemployed,” states Norine Dagliano, Certified Professional Résumé Writer and president of ekm Inspirations, a professional resume writing and job search-coaching firm. “They contact me because they know they need a resume, but in talking with them further, I find they really want to know how to effectively look for work.”

Dagliano, who conducts job search workshops for dislocated workers, takes a unique approach to helping people understand the job search process. Creating analogies between job search activities and some common life experiences, she helps clients to recognize that they already have the knowledge and skills to accomplish their goals.

“Most people over 40 remember the Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman coming to their door, so I begin by brainstorming some sales techniques he used,” stated Dagliano. “I remind them that looking for work is all about selling their knowledge, skills and experience and the prospective employer is the buyer.”

Dagliano has captured some of the key points that surface from these brainstorming sessions:

1. No one ever bought a vacuum cleaner because the salesman needed money. If you are looking to earn an income, position yourself as a solution to someone’s problems instead of a problem looking for a solution.

2. Vacuum cleaner salesmen really know their product and know why it beats the competition. Market your features, benefits and value to the company. Brand yourself as unique and outsell the competition.

3. People in the market for a vacuum cleaner normally do not advertise. Stop spending all your time looking on line and in the newspaper. Scope out the territory and identify potential buyers. Cold-call and tap into your network to make contacts.

4. Vacuum cleaner salesmen give dynamic sales presentations. Prepare and practice your interviewing skills. Know how to answer key question and confidently overcome objections.

5. Vacuum cleaner salesmen always ask for the sale. Sell yourself then ask for the job.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for job seekers to deal with is not making the sale. Dagliano offers this last important bit of advice: “Try not to let your ego get in the way by taking rejection personally. Quite simply, the employer may not be in the market for what you are selling, or already has another product in mind.”

For more information about using sales tools, techniques and strategies to find employment, you can contact Norine Dagliano, CPRW at (301) 766-2032 or visit her Website at http://www.ekminspirations.com


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Norine Dagliano
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