Working in sales recruitment, I face the challenge of selling a sales career to less-than-willing graduates on a daily basis. The sleazy car salesman with his hard-sell tactics or visions of making endless cold calls from a 4 sq ft cubicle continue to plague perceptions. You don’t go to university and study sales; very few grads select sales as their long-term career aspiration. So selling sales really is a must.
It’s the role of the recruiter; but many argue tactics used to persuade prospective candidates are, shall we say, less than admirable. Publicising for an ‘Education Centre Nourishment Consultant’ (that’s a school dinner lady to you and me) is probably a stretch too far. But is it really wrong to ‘creatively’ promote roles to those whose passions lie elsewhere?
With more graduates than ever before, competition is fierce. The rise of ‘mickey mouse’ degrees (I’m a big fan of JK Rowling, but a degree on Harry Potter does seem excessive) and poor careers service has misguided many. So once that cap and gown are placed back on the hanger, one question echoes. Where now?
Those lusted-for jobs with ‘sex appeal’ - media, for example - or with limited availability (let’s spare a thought for those 14,500 LPC students vying for 4,800 training contracts each year) leave many would-be superstars out in the cold. If they’ve niched themselves into a corner, prospects seem bleak. In this case, I see the recruiter as delivering a public service.
So they’ve never considered purchasing or business development. Chances are, that’s because such careers don’t feature in the mainstream. Scrolling through uninspiring titles on Graduate Jobs, it’s hardly surprising those roles sink to the bottom of the pile. It’s here that we need to be more creative to spark interest. If we can get those candidates to pick up the phone and ask the first question, we can open doors to opportunities that never crossed their radar.
The bad press around a recruiter’s use of creative licence to pull in apps from ‘outside the box’ is unjustified. I did a quick inventory and among my own staff we’ve got people with qualifications in everything from marketing and business through to sports studies and law - all now championing sales as a long-term and lucrative career. Was it their plan A? I doubt it. But would they change now? Absolutely not.