Dear Coach Joan: Career Advice
Dear Coach Joan,
I’m running scared. I thought I had the perfect job. I’m in my mid-20s, working full time, and completing my college degree online. I’m in luxury sales for a European car company and have been #1 in sales for almost the last two years. The job was the perfect fit for me. High end cars have always been my passion and key interest, so I’m extremely knowledgeable, and I have naturally good people skills.
But the selling model in my industry is changing and my income is going down, fast.
The dealership has already doubled the sales force, and the commission plan has gone way down. I’m on track to make half of what I made last year.
Is it time for me to get a new job? And how do I move forward when the whole industry seems to be changing?
And where should I look if this is the only thing I know how to do, and the only thing I’m good at so far?
I feel for you. This is a tough time, indeed. And in the world of careers there are periodically tough times. This is one of those times.
First off, I’d like to recommend a book called Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. It was written during the last big recession when many people lost their jobs and had difficulty accepting the changing times. Many were taken by surprise, and this book explains that when change is thrust upon you, ready or not, you must change, too.
But how do you navigate your change? Let’s look at what you can leverage going forward, and how you can pivot to find new avenues for success:
- Prepare Recommendations and Update Sales Tools: It’s time to collect positive references from your managers and from key clients. You have been there for two years and that is a solid track record. See if they will put positive recommendations on your Linkedin, or at least get them in writing. Also, update your resume and Linkedin profile to reflect your sales accomplishments and the skills that support them.
- Speak to your hiring manager or the HR Department: You have clearly been a strong performer and typically companies like to keep top performers. Remind them of your key accomplishments and skills and how much you like the company. Express your frustration at the changes, and ask if there are other positions with additional responsibilities, where you can contribute and build up to your former income level. You never know until you ask!
- Start looking for a new job: I know you said that your industry has changed, but there might be other high end car companies that stick to the old model. Do some research. You now have a strong track record and that might allow you to sell yourself in where the income potential is still high.
- Look at other industries where you can use your selling skills to high end clientele: In other words, what else do wealthy people buy? You can look at the real estate industry, perhaps jewelry, perhaps high end boats and yachts. Also consider reaching out to recruiters in the luxury sales market.
- Make sure to complete your college degree: Another place you can apply your sales skills is in corporate consultative sales positions. But they typically require a bachelor’s degree, plus years of sales experience. You have the sales experience but now really work on completing that degree. More doors will open for you!
Michael, this is a great time to learn to wake up to change, greet it and respond to it. It’s not easy but it is necessary because change does inevitably happen. And please do not quit your current job until you find a new one. You look much more attractive to employers when you have a job.
Please follow the five recommendations I made for you and let me know how you’re doing.
Onward to your career success!