From drab to fab: How to really sell your career story

How To Sell Your Career Story

//Photo Taken By Christina Slaton//

There’s a certain stigma about sales people right? That they’re sleazy over-exaggerators who you can never trust with telling the truth. But I must say, there’s something to be said for a person who can make something “kind of OK” sound “kind of AMAZING”.

I’ve grown to appreciate their charisma and confidence, and realized having the communication skills and gifts of a sales person may not be such a bad thing. You may not be destined to sell software or cars, but tapping into those sales techniques will help you immensely with selling your career story.

Think about it. After graduating college and being thrusted into the real world, you’re forced to learn quickly how to sell yourself. Post grads are presented with a similar dilemma: How to make yourself sound utterly fabulous to an employer when in reality you have a whole lotta nothin’ on your resume. The ones who get the job are the ones who can talk the shit out of their career.

Recently, I’ve encountered a more intense pressure to “sell my story”. Because I essentially work for myself, half of my “job” is spent acquiring more work – meaning a lot of hustling, talking, and networking. All of which is code for selling.

And because I don’t particularly care for the taste of ramen noodle packets and cheap wine, I figured in order to make my career work and be successful, I needed to get good at selling my story.

So I grabbed some bits of knowledge from people who KNOW SALES.  Here are some of my favorite sales techniques to use in an interview, with a potential client, or at a networking event.

1. People don’t ask for facts in making up their minds. They would rather have one good, soul-satisfying emotion than a dozen facts. – Robert Keith Leavit

This is basically the “tell me, don’t sell me” rule. Anyone can list off their career accomplishments and accolades, but who cares. Make the person your talking to or interviewing with FEEL something when you talk about what you do or what you can offer. For example if you’re passionate, your number one goal should be to make them feel passionate too.

2. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar

Understand your audience and cover the information MOST applicable to them first. I hate to break it to you but there are probably pieces of your career story that the person you’re talking to, couldn’t care less about. So assess the person and filter what you say. Hint: what they want to know above anything is what YOU can do for THEM, so focus on that.

3. If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.  – David Ogilvy

In order to sell yourself it’s essential you know your unique selling point. I’m sure there are a lot of people who do what you do or studied what you studied. So how do you stand out? Creativity sells because if something is creative it means it’s different, and people LOVE different. So let me ask you, how are you different than the pack?

4. You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. – Patricia Fripp

Selling your story is not about you talking at someone, it’s about forming a connection with another person. The best sales people are the ones who create actual relationships with the people their working with, and then continue the relationship beyond the point of sale. So don’t be fake. Be authentic and genuine, and engage with the person sitting across from you.

5. A good ad which is not run never produces sales. – Leo Burnett

Ah, good ol’ Leo reminding us that if you don’t put yourself out there to begin with, you’ll never have a chance of making it. Getting up and going to that interview, or approaching that chic Account Director at an event is half the battle. You’ll never know anything if you never try. So just DO IT.


So what do you say? Are you ready to start selling yourself?