6 Ways to Bring a Sales Pipeline Strategy to Your 2024 Job Search

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February 19, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • How the job search is like a sales pipeline
  • 6 sales principles for landing your dream job
  • How to use the Teal Job Application Tracker like a sales CRM system

Like sales, job searching without a strategy can lead to missed opportunities.

Without a clear path, you can easily find yourself lost in applications and waiting for replies without any real sense of direction.

Instead, imagine your job search like a sales pipeline. A sales-inspired job search strategy where potential opportunities are identified, contacted, and moved through phases toward a final job offer—improving your ability to target the right roles and organizations, move through their process quickly, and find your next opportunity like a pro.

Understanding the job search pipeline

A sales pipeline organizes the journey of a potential sale (prospect) from first contact to closing the deal, broken down into key stages. Organizations might call these stages by other names or rearrange the order to fit their needs, but the overall concepts are based on universal sales practices.

A graphic of a sales pipeline
Applying a job search sales strategy to create a pipeline can streamline and clarify your job search process. 

Here's how to organize your job search into stages of the sales pipeline:

  • Prospecting: In sales, you look for potential customers. In your job search, prospecting is about identifying opportunities where your skills and experiences align with what companies need. 
  • Qualification: In sales, this step filters out leads that don't fit. In job searching, it means evaluating roles based on their job descriptions and researching companies to determine whether they match criteria like compensation and company culture.
  • Outreach: Initiating contact with potential employers mirrors reaching out to prospective customers. This could be applying for a job and networking over social platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Nurturing: Building relationships is key in sales and job searching alike. Opportunities will rarely just land in your inbox.Keep in touch with your network, follow up on applications, and engage with potential employers to stay on their radar.
  • Presentation: Much like a sales presentation or demo, this is your chance to show off your unique value proposition, typically through a series of interviews.
  • Negotiation and closing: Negotiation in sales compares to the job offer stage, where you discuss and agree on the terms of your employment and then? Close the deal.

Writing your pitch

Every good sales rep knows the power of a well-crafted pitch; it's what connects a tangible solution to a prospect's problem. In your job search, that pitch is your resume.

Your resume isn't a personal narrative; it's a sales document to market your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. It's here that you are the business and the brand, while your skills and experience are the product.

Like a sales pitch highlights a product's unique benefits, your resume should articulate what sets you apart. The goal? To showcase the top 10% of your experience, that's 100% relevant to the role you're applying to.

Teal Founder and CEO Dave Fano echos this: 

Your resume is a sales document—a pitch designed to sell your skills and experience in a way that aligns with what a company needs—not a historical overview of your entire career.

Here are some basic steps to create a job pitch (resume) worthy of attention:

Step 1: Start with a professional summary that showcases your career in aggregate—focusing on top achievements, skills, and impact.

A screenshot of a professional summary
Use your professional summary to draw attention to your most impressive achievements.

Step 2: Build out your 'Work Experience" section. Focus on positions relevant to the roles you're applying for and use resume bullets to showcase achievements, skills, numbers, data, or metrics. 

A resume work experience section
Create a "Work Experience" section that is relevant to the jobs you're interested in.

Step 3: Add additional sections for:

  • Education
  • Certifications
  • Hard skills (like tools and tech)
  • Projects
  • Awards and scholarships
  • Volunteering and leadership
  • Publications
  • Interests 
An example of a finished resume
Make sure your resume is a comprehensive but relevant overview of your career.

Pro Tip: Remember the best time to apply for jobs is as soon as they become available, if possible. 

Build a base resume with all your work experiences, skills, and achievements to speed up your application process.

Then, choose the ones relevant to the roles you're applying for—incorporating keywords from each unique job listing. Tailoring your resume (including target job title variations) for every role makes it clear to a hiring manager or recruiter that you have the specific skills they're looking for.

Write your resume with Teal

Having the right tools in your tech stack can help you streamline resume creation—giving you more time and energy to dedicate to your job hunt.

With the Teal AI Resume Builder, you can create, write, analyze, and tailor your resume in one platform.

6 sales principles for landing your dream job

1. Generating the right job prospects

Finding the right new job starts with knowing where to look. Identifying target markets, companies, and roles as leads (potential opportunities where you can match your skills with a need) and more can help you streamline and simplify your job search.

Here's how you can generate the right leads to build a more focused job search pipeline:

  • Know what you want: Get a deep understanding of what your ideal career path looks like. What does growth and success look like for you?
  • Research industries: Dive deep industries that interest you. Look for trends, growth, and the companies leading the way.
  • Understand company cultures: Every company has a unique culture. Use social media, job postings, company websites, job boards, and reviews on platforms like Glassdoor to get a sense of what it might be like to work at a variety of places.
  • Leverage your network: Your professional network can offer insights you won't find in job descriptions. It's not a "hidden job market." These connections can provide more inside information on opportunities and key decision-makers.
  • Use your tech: The best job search apps can help you filter opportunities by industry, role, location, and more—matching you with the best fits in less time.

2. Qualification

Just like a salesperson assesses whether a lead has the potential to become a customer, you should evaluate whether or not a job opportunity is a good fit. In sales, not every lead is followed; the same goes for the job-hunting process.

Lead qualification isn't just about checking boxes on requirements but also about considering if the company offers what you're looking for in terms of culture, growth, and balance.

It's a two-way street: the job and company should meet your needs as much as you meet theirs.

To narrow down your search to the best (and most qualified) opportunities...

  • Research company culture
  • Dig into role requirements
  • Identify growth opportunities and skill gaps
  • Evaluate work-life balance
  • Understand company stability and growth

Even if you're trying to find a job fast, having qualified job prospects fill your pipeline will save you more time when it comes to applications and interviews. That said, If a company and role meet the minimum criteria you're looking for, move them on to the next stage of your pipeline.

3. Outreach and networking

You've found a few prospects and qualified them through your research; now it's time to make a move.

In the sales process, outreach can include emails, cold calls, or events. In an organized job search, similar efforts would be applying, reaching out to contacts for referrals, and connecting with hiring managers, recruiters, and other people in your industry on professional platforms like LinkedIn.

Step 1: Before you hit apply, study the job ad. Incorporate the right keywords and skills into your resume.

A screenshot of keywords highlighted in the Teal Job Application Tracker.
Use Teal's Job Application Tracker to find the right keywords in every job posting.

Step 2: Check in with your LinkedIn network. Do you know anyone at the company who could tell you more about the position? Have you built a relationship with someone who would recommend you? Reach out to them.

Step 3: Apply directly through the company website whenever possible.

A screenshot of Teal's Autofull Application tool
Save time on every application with Teal's Autofill Application tool.

Step 4: The application is the key to getting your foot in the door for an interview, but building relationships with prospective employers and expanding your network within your industry are also part of outreach and managing a solid job search pipeline.

Organize your job search pipeline with Teal

Teal's Job Application Tracker is like a CRM for your job search.

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) streamlines and organizes customer and prospect interactions—helping businesses track sales pipelines.

In the same way, Teal's Job Application Tracker is a central platform for managing your job prospects.

Instead of juggling multiple applications and missing important, timely follow-ups that could cost you an interview (or your dream job), keep all your job search details in one place—from the roles you're interested in and the applications you've submitted to the connections you've made—never miss an opportunity again.

4. Following up on applications

Lead nurturing is vital to sales and job searching because it involves maintaining contact and building relationships with potential customers (employers) over time.

Nurturing during your job search, specifically through follow-ups, the goal is twofold: 

  1. To keep your application top of mind for hiring managers
  2. Build relationships without becoming intrusive

When it comes to the art of a good follow-up, Sales Leader Dan Hawkins has some advice to share:

Take the initiative, be proactive, and communicate with a balance of confidence and humility.  

Recruiters and hiring managers love to see candidates take initiative. There's no need to wait until you're scheduled for the interview to reach out and build a connection with the hiring team.

To do this, Hawkins suggests:

  • Dropping them a note indicating you've applied
  • Including a summary of your unique value proposition (think of this as a light pitch)
  • Touching on something you've uncovered in your research that aligns with your skills or values

Finally, if you have common connections, leverage them (with permission) using the following template or something similar: 

"I've connected with Angela and Brad, and they both thought I'd be a good fit for the role due to my [specific skill 1, specific skill 2] experience at XYZ Company."

Data from Teal on how to job search highlights the majority of Teal members who got interviews in 2023 heard back within 4 to 15 days after applying. This means most job seekers have more than one opportunity to reach out, connect, and touch base.

A graphic showing it takes 4 to 15 days to hear back about an interview
Wait at least 15 days before closing the loop on a specific application.

Best practices for following up on job applications

Following up on job applications is a delicate balance between persistence and patience. Here are some best practices:

  • Timing: Follow up once a week for three weeks to show interest without overwhelming busy hiring managers and recruiters.
  • Use a template: To streamline the process, use a follow-up email template (like Teal's!) to keep your message professional and to the point.
  • Attach your assets: Including your resume and cover letter again can make it easier for a hiring manager to find your application.
  • Be persistent, not pushy: It's important to express your continued interest in a position and company but respect the hiring process by maintaining boundaries.

5. Presenting your offer with a solid interview

If your resume's role is to get you an interview, then the interview's role is to land you the job.

In this pivotal stage, you can present your offer (remotely or in person) to convince a hiring team that you are the right fit for the role.

Approach a job interview like you're delivering a sales presentation or product demo. Except in an interview, the product you're promoting is a package of your skills, experiences, and the unique value you offer. 

Remember, the company has a problem: a gap in their team or skillset; you're the solution. Now is your time to sell them on why.

To start, preparation is key:

Deep dive the company: Get into their products, services, challenges, culture, and values.Understand their ideal customer profile (ICP), the pain points they're experiencing, and the ones trying to solve for their own customers. These details will allow you to tailor your responses with context and demonstrate how you can contribute to their success.

Understand the role in detail: Read the job description (more than once) and identify the key skills and qualifications required. Think about examples from your past experiences and tie them to how you meet the needs of the job.

Practice: Develop concise, compelling answers to common interview questions. (Try using an AI tool like ChatGPT for job interview prompts.) Practice delivering responses in a confident, engaging manner.

Sales tips for job interviews

Hawkins, who not only leads sales teams but also serves as a hiring manager, has several sales tips to offer job applicants going through the interview process.

Job interview sales tip #1: Take a multi-threading approach to relationships.

Building relationships and knowing when and how to leverage them throughout the interview process is a differentiator. 

Engaging multiple stakeholders who influence the decision-making process is key to winning a deal. In sales, this is called 'multi-threading.' Seasoned professionals know the value of this approach and multi-thread as early in their sales process as possible. 

As a hiring manager, candidates who tap into their network or are proactive in connecting with hiring team members always stand out. Likewise, candidates who engage potential hiring team members early in the process can stand out and increase their chances of moving forward.

Job interview sales tip #2: Find the right stakeholders.

If you're unsure of who to engage, Hawkins recommends simply asking. Consider the following options: 

  • "For this role, who is typically involved in the interview process and hiring decision?' 
  • "If I move through the process, who from [company name] would I typically meet with?"

Job interview sales tip #3: Leverage previous conversations.

As you multi-thread and move through the interview process with various hiring team members, Hawkins recommends always being prepared with 1-2 key takeaways from prior conversations and leveraging them in the next interview.

Here's his simple 3-step process:

  1. Repeat your takeaway (closely using their language when possible)
  2. Align your skills, specific experience, passion, etc., to the key takeaway, showing how you can help contribute to this
  3. Ask the interviewer a follow-up question about the referenced takeaway and anything they might prioritize for the hiring role

Below is what this could look like:

"During my discussion with [name], they mentioned a key initiative for the [name of position] is to [initiative mentioned]. We discussed how my experience in [experience that ties to that initiative] at [company name] would allow me to contribute to this [initiative name or concept] immediately. What other initiatives or projects do you see as a priority for me and the team if I join?'

Job interview sales tip #4: Close strong.

End the interview with a strong closing. Always ask thoughtful, well-researched questions. And as often as you can, tie those questions back to the conversation and pain points to show:

  1. You were actively listening.
  2. You deeply understand the company and the problem(s) they're trying to solve.

6. Closing

When you reach the offer stage of your job search pipeline, it's important not only to know but also to articulate your worth to negotiate what fits your needs. To do this:

Know your minimum

Determine the lowest offer you're willing and able to accept. Explore salary information websites and consider your financial needs, the cost of living, inflation, and industry norms. The best strategy is to have a range of what works best for you.

Articulate your value

Be ready to explain why your skills and experience are in line with the salary you're asking for, using specific examples of how you can contribute to the company.

Consider the whole compensation package

Sometimes the salary is non-negotiable, but other benefits or perks can be. Consider what's important to you, whether it's flexible working hours, professional development opportunities, or health benefits.

Bonus: Handling rejection and feedback

Every potential sales deal ends in a close, win or lose. Job opportunities are no different—there will likely be wins and losses.

How to learn from a closed-loss job opportunity:

  • Allow yourself to feel: It's natural to feel disappointed. Give yourself permission to address these feelings before moving on.
  • Recognize your value: Remind yourself that your worth isn't tied to one job opportunity. You have the skills and experience for the right role.
  • Keep moving: Don't stop applying. The right next job is out there.
  • Keep your pipeline active: Don't stop applying and networking. Keeping multiple prospects in play ensures you're not relying too heavily on one opportunity.
  • Consider feedback: If you receive feedback after the interview process, take it constructively and identify actionable insights. Then, make adjustments to improve your future applications or interviewsifthey make sense for you.

In addition, just because you're not right for one role doesn't mean another won't open up at the same company down the road. Getting rejected with tact and grace is key to maintaining a good professional reputation—even when it's hard.

Build your job search pipeline with Teal

Navigating your job search without a clear strategy can quickly become chaotic.

But by applying the principles and sales skills above to your job search, you create a structured, systematic approach that not only organizes your efforts but also sharpens your focus on opportunities that match your skills and career goals.

Teal's Job Application Tracker and AI Resume Builder are designed to support this strategic approach. With tools that help you manage your applications, track your progress, and tailor your resume to each job, Teal streamlines your job search, making finding the right opportunity even easier.

Embrace these sales strategies and Teal's tools to build a winning job search pipeline today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I identify the most promising job opportunities to add to my sales pipeline?

To identify the most promising job opportunities, start by defining your ideal job criteria, including industry, role, company size, and culture. Use job search platforms and networking to find matches, then prioritize them based on alignment with your criteria, growth potential, and the likelihood of a successful application.

What are some effective ways to track progress when managing a job search like a sales pipeline?

Effective ways to track your job search progress include using a spreadsheet or a CRM tool to monitor applications, follow-ups, and interview stages. Set clear milestones for each stage of the application process and update your tracking tool regularly to maintain a clear overview of your pipeline status.

How can I accelerate the job search process using sales pipeline strategies?

To accelerate your job search, focus on activities that move opportunities forward, such as tailoring your resume for each application, crafting personalized cover letters, and proactively reaching out to hiring managers. Additionally, set aside dedicated time each day for job search activities and follow up promptly on all communications to keep the momentum going.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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