Monday, September 22, 2008

Back Up Your Claims To Get That Ag Sales Job

The competition for good sales positions in Ag is getting more and more intense. Each night on the news we hear about company consolidations, collapsing markets, bankruptcies, and corporate downsizing. Great sales people that have been displaced in other industries are seeing Ag as a great opportunity. These people may have been previously in Ag, or possibly grew up in a rural setting and want to return. At any rate, with the increased flow of new job seekers into the Ag market, your competition for winning a great sales position is increasing as well.

One of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack in an interview is to back up your successful career with a “Brag book”. A brag book is a folder or binder that you use during an interview to assist you in explaining your skills, showing your past success, and how these experiences make you a leading candidate for this Agronomy Sales or Seed Sales position.

This folder should include any notes or letters from others that comment on how you did a great job, annual review information, examples of presentations you’ve given, newsletter articles or sales letters that you have written, certifications you’ve attained, and awards that you have earned. This is an ongoing project that will change and expand as you move through your career. The key thing is to keep it current!

I encourage you to bring a Brag Book to your next Ag Sales interview. This compilation of work and success will undoubtedly show that you have initiative, professionalism, organization, and a passion for success. It may be all the difference you need to place yourself above the rest.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ag Recruiters - Friend or Foe

Let’s say you have a successful career in Agricultural Sales where you are breaking sales records, earning great bonuses, and have the quality of life you have always been looking for. You love your job, and your employer loves you.

Then one day your phone rings. You’re expecting it to be a client but it turns out to be Mr. Johnson from ABC Company. You’ve never heard of this person or his company, but quickly find out it’s a recruiting organization. In the next 30 seconds you find out that Mr Johnson has been enlisted by a major Ag supplier (which happens to be one of your major competitors) to hire someone that does exactly what you do. You have a decision – take the call or not.

Most people are naturally leery of taking calls from recruiters. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll be overheard. Maybe you’re so happy you can’t imagine being anywhere else. Or maybe you’re just too brutally busy to bother with the call. Before you say "no thanks", consider this:

  1. Headhunters are paid by the company that wants to hire you, so nothing comes out of your pocket if you end up taking the position.
  2. Headhunters (at least the good ones) aren’t cold callers. Odds are they received your name after a detailed search for qualified candidates by asking their contacts in your industry for referrals of good people. Quite often, the hiring company themselves may have specifically targeted you as one of the people they want!
  3. Even if you recognize that this particular position isn’t a fit for you, by taking the call and being respectful, you’ll have developed a relationship with the headhunter who might call you again with another opportunity. And that one might be the perfect fit!