Don't Sell Yourself Short

How Sales Experience Helped Me Land a Job in Account Services

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Carly Rullman
Carly Rullman
I often hear people my age say two things about a sales job: They are too good for it, or they don't think it stands out on their resumes.

I beg to differ: A sales job could be just the stepping stone they need to a promising future in account services.

In my senior year of college, I had a little extra time on my hands, so I decided to get a part-time job. I was walking through my college when a flier caught my eye for a position as an account executive at the school's popular newspaper. I didn't quite know what it entailed, but the idea of working on campus and earning steady income each month piqued my interest.

After I interviewed, I was fortunate enough to land what I'd soon realize is an awesome job for a student -- or for anyone else, for that matter. It wasn't even the money but rather the experience. Each day I sold advertising space to local businesses that were aiming to reach the college market. It took a lot of footwork, literally, going to each business and selling what The Crimson White had to offer. I learned to put together proposals, pitch those proposals, keep up with a daily call sheet, build and establish a client base, execute good customer service, and handle the hustle of real work experience. I also learned what it meant to make and exceed goals and how to work not only for yourself but for the betterment of the company.

By the time graduation came, I had already added my work experience as account executive to my resume. Prospective employers never overlooked it. Sales experience communicated the following:

I am a self-starter. Sales are something you have to work for and are mostly 100% commission. Those who have done sales have to take the initiative to get out there and do well.

I am driven and can prove to you my success. Sales are a lot about the numbers, and this is something you can display on your resume. For example, I regularly exceeded my monthly goal by 125%. I sold as much as $32,000 in ad space each month.

I have experience dealing with people on a regular basis. This is a quality highly valued in today's economy. Customer satisfaction is key to keeping companies afloat.

I'm not too good for any job. I've been rejected, felt discouraged, been rejected again, wasted gas, broken a heel, been yelled at, lost a client, gained a client.

When I first embarked on the job search, I knew I wanted to be on the account-services side of an agency. What I now realize is that while sales experience can be helpful in landing any job, it is especially helpful in understanding account services.

I recently started working at a small agency where I'm learning the ropes of being an account coordinator. And I'm learning that, to be successful, you've got to understand the client/company very well; establish a relationship with them -- both on a professional level and a personal level; be super-organized; and care about what you're doing -- all things learned while in my sales job.

So don't overlook a job in sales, if that opportunity presents itself. If account services is really where you'd like to make your career and can't seem to break into it just yet, then start off with at least one sales job. You will be glad to say you've had that experience, and it will speak volumes to your employer, show in your work and ultimately give you the necessary preparation for work as an agency account executive.

Carly Rullman is from Charlottesville, Va., and recently graduated from the University of Alabama. She majored in public relations and Spanish and served on the award-winning advertising team, as well as the forensics speech team. She worked as an account executive selling advertising space and marketing for UAB athletics before becoming an account coordinator at Scout Branding in Birmingham, Ala. She also helped build the communications department at Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass., through a summer internship. She also enjoys practicing public relations, blogging, and researching and using social media. She is a member of the Red Mountain Theater Co., Birmingham Rotaract and Young Professionals of Birmingham.
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