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“10 Years Of Experience…..”

by David Brock on December 26th, 2018

I spend a fair amount of time helping clients hire managers and sale people.  Usually, I’m in the final round of interviews. 

I look at their CV’s and LinkedIn profiles.  Usually, they are talking about their years of experience in selling.  “I’ve been selling complex solutions for 10, 15, 20…..years.”

As I look at their job histories, I see tenures of 1-2 years, every once in a while maybe they become “old timers” with 3 years in the same role.

You can probably guess what I’m going to say, but I have to say it.  As I look at their experience, I think to myself, “Do they have 10 years of experience, or 10 experiences of 1 year each.”

Some of you may be saying, “Dave, you don’t get it, I’m a millennial, we are supposed to change jobs all the time, it’s part of our DNA….”  or  “Dave, it’s not my fault, those were start ups….”  or “Dave, the world has changed…”

I get it, I understand those and the dozens of other responses I get when I look I talk to these individuals.

But it might be useful to look at what people like me think as we speak to candidates like this.

First, we know onboarding takes, on average about 10 months.  For the companies I tend to work with, often it’s much longer.

Second, the sales cycles are usually 9-18 months.

Third, unless they had a pre-loaded pipeline with the most qualified prospects, it takes time to build a pipeline.

Now add all that together, and people like me start asking the question, “How many sales cycles have the gone through?  How much experience do they really have?  Is it the success they’ve had a result of their experience, or did they get lucky and pick up an opportunity there predecessor had started?”

Of course, every once in a while, there will be job tenures of 1-2 years.  Things happen.  But when the majority of jobs a person has had have been for short periods of time, then one can’t help but wonder the depth of their experience.

What’s this mean for ambitious people who want to grow in their careers?  People are struggling to find great sales people.  The demand for talent is really high and people are willing to pay for the right talent. 

It’s tempting to hop from job to job, upgrading your pay as you go.  But you do this at the risk of building real skill, capability, and experience.  And that eventually will catch up with you.

As my friend, Andy Paul suggest, “Sometimes, it’s best to stick it out.”

As you build your career, you need to focus on continually learning and developing your skills and capabilities, you need to increase your depth of experience.  You need to see things through several cycles to understand what it takes to be successful and sustain success. You have to have failed and taken the time to learn from it.

As a hiring manager, I’m always concerned with people who move from job to job. With each hire, I’m making a multi-million dollar decision. I worry about being able to retain people as long as possible. The opportunity costs of open positions and ramp times are millions. Of course, it’s critical to have a retention strategy, to make our companies the “desired” places to work, that we are actively challenging and growing people. But I always, ask myself, “Will the person stick around long enough to recover my investment?”

There have been a number of times, where i have passed on a great candidate, purely because their track record shows consistent job hopping. When confronted with this concern, candidates always say, “Well this time it will be different…..” And I always ask, “Why…….”

Talent acquisition, development, retention will be the biggest issue sales leaders and sales managers will face in the coming years. It’s something that impact both hiring managers and those seeking new jobs.

From → Leadership

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