J Patrick + Associates Blog

Tight Talent Market Calls for Open Minded Hiring

Posted by Daniel Sullivan on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 @ 11:50 AM
  • Sales Engineer hiring
    • Major Managed Security Provider (MSSP) hires a Project Manager with limited Security and some Sales Engineering background to handle its largest global enterprise customers in NYC...and the manager is ecstatic with the results!

    • Leading vendor of IP Networking and Wireless products hires  Sales Engineer to launch their latest Storage product line and support their largest channel partner in the Chicago region...and he's 55+ and been selling cars for the last year!
    • Major CLEC hires a Sales Engineer to support busy Enterprise account team in Northern Virginia...and the candidate has not been in Telecom since 2006!

    All of these sales engineering hires are placements J. Patrick has made in the last 30 days and are an indication of the tight market for sales engineering talent, as well as SE managers shifting away from hiring using a skills and experience checklist to meet preliminary minimum requirements, and towards hiring for attitudes and aptitudes, character and compatibility, personality and potential.

    Hiring managers are adapting to this competitive landscape by focusing on bringing in candidates who are flat-out strong performers in their most recent roles, and who have strong technology and sales process uptake talents.  Frankly speaking, what I hear most from frustrated SE (and Sales) Managers is mostly about employee behavior, not lack of skills or experience.  Employees are able to do the job but lack the motivation, consistent productivity and teamwork skills that make for good performance.  Managers grind their teeth talking to me about the veteran SE who just doesn't meet deadlines, perform well on demos or presentations, or simply "doesn't play well with others".   

    How do you take advantage of this opening in the market?

    We are starting to see the Sales Engineering market look seriously at candidates who are currently in technically-adept, customer-facing roles such as project management, professional services, consulting and service delivery.  So if you've given any thought to moving into Sales Engineering, now's the time to reach out to your network, approach your firm's SE or Sales management and starting applying online or via third-party recruiters to these types of roles.

    If you do, make sure you focus your resume on some of the most transferable skills, talents and experience you have, and to lower the threshold for SE managers to take you into consideration, take a look at:

    Technical Domain Expertise:  Where's your depth and breadth in technology subject matter? Certifications can often help here.

    Communications Skills:  Presentations, Demos, Documentation, Reporting, Metrics, Analytics.  All of these are transferable from post-sales/end-user contexts into the sales realm.

    Process & Teamwork:  Show where you can follow the firm's sales plan, consistently and with minimal direct supervision.

    High-performance, Low-Maintenance:  Managers are overwhelmed with time pressure, reporting, managing up and down.  They need employees who are proactive, energetic and coachable.

    Use the Summary, Skills, or Training sections of your resume to highlight these areas.  I’ve suggested to candidates that the build a Greatest Hits section of their resume (usually named something like “Selected Accomplishment, Highlights or similar) where they can discuss the Big Things they’ve started and finished, whether as an individual, team member or manager.  Think of this as your “brag list” where it’s perfectly OK to say what a Bada$$ Project Manager, consultant or sales engineer you are.   

    “It Ain’t Bragging If You Can Do It!”

    So if you think you have what it takes to move into Sales Engineering, or simply move up into the Senior individual contributor or management ranks, position yourself properly to take full advantage of what's happening in the tech hiring market right now. This may prove to be that moment that could turbo-charge your career.

    Good hunting!

    Dan Sullivan