“This above all: to thine own self be true…”
Job fit is more than just being able to do the work, but to also have that excitement and satisfaction for what you do.
At a time in life when I was looking to earn a little bit of extra cash on the side, going into direct sales seemed to connect well with my background. You know what I’m talking about — those businesses that have representatives who arrange to have “parties” in your home.
I didn’t just pick something randomly; I decided to sell products that I truly believed in and used frequently. I thought that being that deliberate about what company I was representing, by selecting one that has items that I’ve purchased and use all the time, that I would build in a passion for what I was doing. I already would rave to friends and family about the products I did own. Why not be the one selling them?
I had some misgivings about this venture from the onset. After I had set up a time to talk with someone about joining their ranks, I wasn’t exactly as gung-ho as I usually am about a new project. At the time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. After all, working in nonprofit helped me to develop skills that would relate well to the sales field — building relationships, marketing, cold calling, being persuasive. I had even developed a thick skin for the rejection that invariably came when asking for financial support or for volunteers. And I had no qualms about calling back people who didn’t give me an unequivocal “no.” So I brushed those feelings aside and plunged ahead.
That was a mistake.
Sure, I could do the various aspects of the job. The bigger question for me, though, was, “Do I really feel comfortable doing this?” Honestly? No, I didn’t. What I had to sell wasn’t a must-have; their lives would continue on just fine without the wares that I was peddling.
Knowing that life situations happen to people all the time, I just couldn’t bring myself to keep calling again and again if I was told the timing was bad. Every time a potential customer would say to me, “I’d love to have a party, but money’s pretty tight now,” I didn’t have the heart to keep pushing the issue solely for my benefit.
Eventually, I realized that last point was at the core of why my heart wasn’t into direct sales. All the skills and aptitude I developed in nonprofits worked well in that situation because my efforts were on behalf of the clients who used the organization’s services. There was a mission behind my work. But in sales, it was just… me.
This is not to say that the sales profession is bad. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.
In retrospect, the experience I had with direct sales ended up being positive because it allowed me to gain further insight into my personality and what motivates me.
What experiences have you had that helped you clarify your job fit?