Hi, I’m Irwin! I’ve been a software sales leader for startups like Okta as well as large corporations like BMC and Cisco. Now, I work as an industry mentor to help people land great jobs in sales through workshops and 1-on-1 mentorship. Check out my article with steps to help you land entry level sales jobs.
Bootcamp grads want to use their new skills to land a tech sales job after graduation. But there are often hundreds of university grads competing for the same positions. Many of these candidates have years of experience studying business development, tech sales, and operations. Some applicants may even have internship experience at top companies. As a bootcamp grad, how can you stand out to recruiters and hiring managers?
Patrhise has helped over 700 people land their dream jobs in tech. We’ve put together a list of practical tips and tricks so you can land entry level sales jobs faster.
1. Optimize your resume and online profiles
Your resume and LinkedIn profile need to stand out from the competition. Experience is important, but communicating your experiences so they sell yourself to employers can be even more important. After all, recruiters can’t see an applicant’s experience, they can only see how well they describe it.
Instead of passive statements on your resume, consider using active, story-driven statements. You should focus on the specific impact you’ve had and the strategies you used to achieve those results. A story-driven resume shows employers your accomplishments and skills at the same time because it provides context to each task.
For sales work, be sure to include quantification as well. Numbers and percentages like your conversion rate, the size of your sales, and the amount of new clients you have added to the company roster are good places to start. You should also mention the specific strategies and skills you used. For example, crafting compelling cold emails to generate leads using data scrapers to create personalized messages for warm leads are good skills-based tasks.
If you have just graduated and you don’t have any formal sales experience, you should describe the work you did at your bootcamp. Most bootcamps feature hands-on projects and workshops, so you can include these projects on your resume. You can also put your past experiences into the context of sales, using story-driven technique to show how skills overlap. Did your work ever involve persuasion? Maybe you convinced a customer to try a new product or even persuaded your boss to give you more responsibilities.
Side projects & applicant tracking systems
We also recommend that you work on side projects as much as possible. These will differentiate you from your fellow bootcamp grads who might have similar experience from your clases. You can find freelance work on Upwork or with friends who might need help. You can also volunteer to do pro bono work for a non-profit to increase your experience if necessary.
Finally, make sure that your resume is optimized in case the company is using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to parse the resume. Even if they are not, recruiters spend, on average, 6 seconds per resume, so you need yours to stand out. Review the job description and match the keywords as best as you can on your resume (while still telling the truth). For example, if they mention knowledge of “Pardot” as a requirement and you have “Salesforce systems” on your resume, change that to include the keyword “Pardot.” Both an ATS and a human recruiter often match direct keywords to decide if an applicant moves forward.
To paint a fuller picture of your tech sales background, you should also optimize your LinkedIn by expanding on the information you included in your resume. Your LinkedIn profile can host links to your website, previous work, and even testimonials.
2. Find jobs that match your skills and experiences
As a sales bootcamp grad, you should be able to recognize roles that match your new skill set. Focus on entry level sales jobs that fit your background so you can improve your odds of getting an interview and land your dream job faster.
In general, tech sales jobs fall into 4 categories: outbound SDR (sales development representative), inbound SDR, enterprise SDR, and account executive roles. Outbound SDR tends to hire the most recent bootcamp and college grads, prioritizing energy over experience. These roles are intense and require high energy salespeople who can push through with cold leads.
- Mass emailing
- Making 50-100+ colds calls per day
- Bulk messaging and manual cold lead generation
Inbound SDR roles are much less intense. These jobs involve working with warm marketing leads, contact form submissions, email subscriptions, calls requesting product info, and any other inbound interest. Companies hiring inbound SDR roles tend to have well-developed markets, with lots of interest in their product. These companies tend to be big and well-known, meaning there may be more competition when applying. Many companies also pay inbound SDRs less than outbound SDRs as warm leads tend to be easier to convert. However, if you are an expert at converting warm leads and prefer a more laid-back sales experience, these roles could be perfect.
Enterprise SDR, or strategic SDR, involves mapping out potential customers to create personalized cold emails, usually based on their LinkedIn profiles. These roles involve cold calling and many of the job duties of outbound SDR, but tends to require more strategy. In addition, some knowledge of data science and tools like data scrapers is a plus for this role..
Account executives generally work with existing customers to keep the relationship positive and close deals. AE jobs selling SaaS technologies involve fostering client relationships, meeting with stakeholders, and closing high ticket deals. If you are more suited to serving existing clients and closing with short meetings, sometimes even just one call, then this type of role could be perfect.
3. Reach out to recruiters, hiring managers, and other bootcamp grads
Writing a compelling cold email to a tech sales recruiter or hiring manager not only gets their attention but also shows off your persuasiveness and skill as a salesperson. You can also use LinkedIn to find hiring managers and recruiters who will be evaluating your application. Joining their network will give them extra exposure to your profile and help you draw more attention to your application. Consider reaching out to your fellow bootcamp grads as well to expand your tech sales network.
The goal is to find a recruiter, hiring manager, or senior team member at your company of interest who also has shared interests or experiences. You’ll have better luck networking with someone if you have something in common, like growing up in the same city or sharing the same hobby. Just like with sales, warm leads convert better. You can find a hiring manager’s email addresses and then check it with tools like Clearbit and Leadfinder. If you prefer to add someone as a connection on LinkedIn, be sure to include a personalized note that highlights your connection and expresses your interest in their work.
Bootcamp grads can also network with fellow alumni through the bootcamp career center. Even post-graduation, you can reach out, introduce yourself, and explain that you’re still actively looking for a job. If you’ve already taken advantage of their career center, don’t be afraid to reach out again and ask for help. Bootcamps are expanding their network with new hiring partners all the time and can point you to new companies seeking bootcamp grads. Bootcamp career services often have alumni groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Slack that can offer terrific networking opportunities as well.
4. Research the company to prep for your behavioral interview
An understanding of a company’s mission and culture is extremely important to interviewers. Before your behavioral interviews, you should research the company mission, history, culture, values, and, of course, products. Even if you’re familiar with the company, you should still check their about pages so you explain how your values and goals line up with theirs.
For example, you probably use Google every day, but may not know that one of their key values is that “It’s best to do one thing really, really well” than to be competent at many different things. You can use this value in your elevator pitch and it to inform your answers to their behavioral interview questions. If you are asked about specialization versus being well rounded for example, you might think the interviewer wants to hear about the importance of being flexible and having a diverse skill set, but after researching them you can see specialization is more in line with their company values.
Use our list of behavioral interview questions from top tech companies to start thinking through how you would personalize your answers.
5. Study key sales concepts and work through technical interview questions
As a bootcamp grad, you may have spent less time selling and learning sales strategies than your competition. To prove that you are ready for entry level sales jobs, you need to ace any technical question that comes up.
Your interviewer may ask you about the sales cycle, details of your target market, or lead generation. Often the interviewer will present you with a hypothetical sales scenario and ask how you would make the sale. They could also ask you about a related or competing company and how you might improve their sales. Most of the technical questions will test your knowledge and understanding of the following:
- The sales cycle
- Lead generation
- Story-driven sales
- Acquisition vs expansion
- The four Ps of marketing
- Their target market and product
- Pivotal agreements
Review these fundamentals so that you can explain each one, and reference these concepts when presented with a case study or sales scenario question. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of sales and marketing questions from top companies.
5. Brainstorm questions to ask your interviewer
Preparing thoughtful interview questions can prove your understanding of the company and help you stand out in an interview. Posing smart, technical questions can help you showcase your tech sales knowledge and persuasive skills. Asking questions about the company’s culture can also prove that you have done your homework and are excited about their work. You can check out our list of best questions to ask interviewers and tailor them to fit any company.
Using our tips and tricks, you can further stand out to recruiters, get more interviews, and improve your interview performance so you can land entry level sales jobs with ease. Fellows who join our program see their interview scores double and their application responses triple, landing a job in only 3-5 months on average. If you are interested in working 1-on-1 with a mentor to improve on all phases of the job search, join Pathrise.