How young sales professionals in the HR Outsourcing services space can break into the booming industry or make their next move up the proverbial ladder (And for those who aren’t quite the young whippersnappers they once were: how to get your swagg back).
When you’re young, there’s really nothing that you can’t do – or so you’d like to believe. Unfortunately, for young sales guns looking to break into the HR Outsourcing sector, or even for experienced individuals looking for their next career move, there’s generally not much going for you.
[sws_pullquote_left]Candidates who are forced into an application process that initiates with internal HR and not the direct sales manager may feel the organization isn’t looking to hire at all; they’re looking to punish qualified job seekers with absurd requirements, internal process, and paperwork hoops. [/sws_pullquote_left] For starters, having little or no marketable real-world documented sales success or direct experience in a highly specific role can be a tough hiring sell to the VP’s of Sales and those respective external HR recruiters they utilize to bring industry talent to the sales team. The simple truth is that high performing HR Outsourcing service providers require a minimum of 2 years of direct HR service sales experience.
Those tenured sales executives looking for mid to upper-level HR services sales or sales management positions which carry higher quotas and thus lucrative commissions are often highly specialized bearing absurd experience requirement thresholds of 10 years or more.
And to make matters worse, candidates who are forced into an application process that initiates with internal HR and not the direct sales manager may feel the organization isn’t looking to hire at all; they’re looking to punish qualified job seekers with absurd requirements, internal process, and paperwork hoops.
Those trying to break into the industry or even the confident 2-3 year newbie with a small taste of sales success find that it’s often not what you know – it’s who you know. In many ways, the world of HR sales, regardless of whether selling high-end enterprise HR technology, employee benefits, or PEO services, can feel like an old boys’ club, a tribe of old lumbering dinosaurs, ruled by industry veterans and recruiting gatekeepers who pick bros over brains.
In other words, there are some big ol’ dinosaurs blocking your way.
This can be incredibly frustrating. But here’s the kicker: successful firms need brains, not bros. Experience is great, but it doesn’t guarantee greatness. Likewise, while big, scary dinos ruled the world for ages, eventually they were displaced by more agile mammals, and a curious species of bipedal sapiens with no sharp claws, no thick hides, and no big teeth – just brains.
You can leverage change to your advantage.
4 Ways To Displace the Dinos
1. Be a Product of the Times
To understand people, you have to really know where they are coming from. Nowhere is this more true than in the HR Outsourcing industry. People know people,not computers, not an algorithm, not a pre-determined formula, and certainly not an antiquated sales process based on smiling and dialing.
As a young gun, you know what your generation is all about. And for companies looking to hire and retain the best and brightest of this generational crop of future leaders and innovators, your first-hand insight and understanding of this demographic are incredibly valuable.
In the cutthroat world of the competitive marketplace, clinging on to backwards thinking can be deadly – just look at America’s automobile sector pre-bailout. They were absolutely in over their heads with notions that the government would protect them from competitions; that American consumers would continue to buy gas-guzzling SUVs despite the rising cost of fuel; and that Americans would put up with shoddy quality and workmanship. They were wrong, and they paid for it.
Companies need to innovate to stay competitive. With over 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, HR recruiting executives across the nation are looking to recruit a new crop of innovative leaders who will help their respective firms navigate the choppy waters of our so-called new economy.
Times have changed – you get that.
2. Don’t Sweat the “What”, Sweat the “Why”
Youth isn’t an excuse for ignorance. Neither is not being prepared for your next career move. With so much information on demand at our very fingertips, not knowing is inexcusable. In other words, know your stuff. Stay current on industry topics, get certification if necessary, and have a deep understanding of relevant HR practices. That being said, don’t let the what, the technical drivel, get in the way of the why.
Front-line hiring managers looking to fill vacant HR positions certainly consider qualifications. But in a tough job market where even a great number of very experienced and very well-connected industry veterans are looking for work, don’t count on your resume to get you in.
Rather, look for what makes you special, and more importantly, why that matters. In a world in flux, the bullet points will always be up for debate. As opposed to simply procuring a list of qualifications, tell a solid story. Tell them why they need you, not how you can fit into their lists. Just be sure that you can follow up your words with the appropriate actions!
3. You Are a Digital Native, Speak Out!
The established old timers complain that this generation of professionals was born with iPhones glued to their faces. They’re just jealous that an almost instinctive understanding of the digital landscape is coded into your very DNA. As digital natives, your inborn fluency allows you, like Neo in the Matrix, to navigate a world the dinosaurs can’t see at all.
Did you know that nearly twenty percent of Americans simply do not use the internet? Not at home, not at work, and certainly not on their phones and tablets. There are many people who don’t know the most basic productivity applications and tools of the trade. This has become more and more apparent as technology continues to flash forward at record pace.
Are you an excel ninja? Put that on your resume. Are you good at HRIS, web-based HR applications, and other HR technologies? Great! Relevant computer skills are in high, high demand. Remember, the dinos can’t do any of these, and generally can’t learn new digital skillsets as easily as younger, more tech-conversant professionals.
There’s a pretty good chance that there are a good number of middle and lower-middle HR positions staffed by baby boomers who don’t know the difference between an inkjet printer and a typewriter, just cruising until retirement. And those cushy jobs are just waiting to be filled by someone who will actually make a difference. Use technology to your advantage to help that transition process along.
4. Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Being (relatively) young doesn’t necessarily mean that you have nothing to offer and that you are entirely at the mercy of recruiters. You have room to grow into anything given time, training, and the right environment. For employers, that means that you have no bad habits to break, only good habits to learn. Better yet, you often come into the workplace offering a level of tech savvy many older industry veterans couldn’t hope to attain.
Companies want that. They need that. Even more so if you are an HR Outsourcing professional WITH prior experience. They absolutely cannot compete, let alone thrive, in a changing economy without the right talent. You want to make sure that they understand that you are that guy.
Tell them, and ask for a chance to prove it.
Getting into the old boys club is an exercise in futility – so why bother? Rather than relying on a checklist of obligatory experience bullet points, or trolling every single HR networking event from here to the moon in hopes of generating some good leads, move forward by evolving. Displace the old boys!
Be a product of your times, fully immersed in the why of what you do. Leverage technology to your advantage, and always, always be prepared for one thing: change.
Are you ready for your next career move?
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