6 interview tips to land your best sales role yet

Today’s business world can be really confusing when managing your career. How to meet potential employers? How to dress for an interview? How to negotiate your offer or a raise? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you. In today’s roundtable we discuss best and worst questions to ask in a job interview.


In today's discussion: Jeevan, Jamie, Sheldon, Alex, Beth, Justina, Katrina, Kim, Hayley

Alter your questions based on the interview stage

Jamie: One of the things we always tell candidates is to ‘ask good questions’... but what does that actually mean?

Jeevan: If it’s a first interview you definitely want to avoid asking the obvious ones surrounding vacation and time off. You never want to be perceived as ‘lazy’, especially not in a first interview.

Katrina:  Exactly. You should not ask if you can take three weeks vacation within the first six months and on top of that, if you're allowed to take additional days off. You want to give the impression that you're going to work hard and do whatever it takes to be successful in the role. Typically discussions around base pay, commissions, company hours and perks should be reserved for later on.

Kim: I think a good question is any question that centers around getting a better understanding of the company and the role. For instance, what does it take to be successful? What are some challenges most people face in the first three months and how can I proactively work to overcome them?

Sheldon: Another good one is to ask what kind of culture they are aiming to create and how you can be of positive contribution to that.

Hayley: Yes, I love that question. I would also say, if there’s multiple people in the room with different agendas- HR, sales, marketing- remember what their agenda is and ask them questions that make them feel included and show that you’re interested in them.

Beth: Say I'm speaking to the founder of the company, I would ask what their values are from a really high level, just because I know as a candidate, it's just equally as important to know the company that you're going to work for and if those values are aligned with yours, because ultimately it needs to be a partnership.

Jeevan: One more tip I want to throw in is asking questions based on the specific company. Most people know about bigger companies like Google and their robust company culture… It’s also easier to find out about them via Glassdoor. But when it comes to smaller companies it’s a lot harder to know what they are all about as many of them don’t have reviews or anything that you can go off of.

Address the company’s online reputation

Jamie: Glassdoor, that’s a great area to discuss. You are researching a company and they have six-hundred great reviews and a handful of negative reviews. Do you bring that up in the interview or not?

Katrina: I'd bring it up with a smaller company that has bad reviews and ask if they’re changing or what they're doing to address those concerns. I have a current situation with a client who has had some really bad reviews, but they've made some changes to actually fix that, so, I'd address it. You could always position it by saying: do you feel this is a fair reflection of your organization?

Beth: I always tell people to take reviews with a grain of salt. That said, I think it shows that you’ve done your research and given the company an opportunity to speak to what they are doing to fix the mentioned problem areas. Otherwise, if there are a handful of negative reviews that are in fact accurate and you see them yourself three months into the role… that’s the last thing that you want.

Show choice without being entitled

Jamie: As a candidate you want to show that you have choice, but at the same token you don’t want to come across as deserving of the role in an interview.

Alex: You want to show that you're qualifying the company and role for yourself by asking questions such as ‘what do you look for when you're hiring an individual?’, as it shows an educated decision if given the choice.

You’re selling more than you’re buying

Jamie: It’s always a balance in early interview stages between buying and selling, but I think you are selling more than you’re buying. Your questions should be related to positioning yourself as someone who’s going to bring undeniable energy and enthusiasm. As you move along in the interview process you need to take on more of a buying aspect as you ultimately want to make a good career decision.

Kim: I second that point. In the final interview stages you are definitely ‘buying’ as they’ve obviously brought you in again with intention to hire you. I mean it depends on the company, some are more upfront than others if you’re in a final stage, but try to be aware. At the end of the day it should be a partnership and you want to make sure your values align.

Sheldon: In the buying stage, I would personally avoid the awkward work-life balance question. I would go with cultural questions about team events, team building or even the opportunity for continual learning and progression. I feel that last one shows a little bit more of what they’ll do for you as well.

Contextualize the questions you ask

Justina: Sometimes I find buying questions can be uncomfortable, so if you can contextualize them it really helps. For instance, instead of outright asking about the team environment, which can maybe put the employer on the spot, you could instead frame it about how you want to know more about the current staff to make sure that you’re going to add value to the existing team and be able to build relationships.

Katrina: Yeah, if you’re going to ask about work hours, you could say something like ‘I’m used to working six to ten at night, so I’m not worried, I’m just interested to see what your hours in this office look like. When is it exciting, when is it dead?’.

Be authentic to avoid sounding scripted

Jamie: Often times we’re so focused on salespeople dealing with sales leaders. So we are accustomed to asking questions like “do you have any objections about hiring me?” but sometimes this can come off as so sales-y and scripted. If you can add a little humor, do it. Say ‘I’d be a horrible candidate if I didn’t ask one of the main questions that I’ve been taught to ask which is: is there anything that I should’ve done differently, anything that makes you hesitant?’

Hayley: Or even re-word it a bit and ask if you can clarify anything or if they have any additional questions, not so much direct, but still kind of getting to the same point.

Jeevan: Depending on the client you could just go for it and ask a question that's even bigger- ‘Is there anything another candidate in your pipeline has that you think gives them a distinctive advantage over me?’ I mean, it’s definitely a bold move... Maybe there’s another way of asking less directly. I really depends if you can get away with it, right?

Beth: My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure that the questions are authentic and that you genuinely want the answers to them. As a person who interviews for a living, you can sense immediately when someone is just asking a question to tick a box in their mind.

Jamie: Thanks Beth. Overall I think we had some solid pointers when it comes to the do’s and don’ts of interviewing for your next (and best) sales role. Thanks everyone and this concludes another Recruiter Roundtable discussion!

How to find a great sales role

Today’s business world can be really confusing when managing your career. How to meet potential employers? How to dress for an interview? How to negotiate your offer or a raise? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you. In today’s roundtable we discuss best practices of identifying what makes a great sales job.

Todays panel clockwise: Dan, Jill, Brittani, Arkan, Sheila

Todays panel clockwise: Dan, Jill, Brittani, Arkan, Sheila

Make sure there’s an audience for what you’re selling

Jill: With so many start-ups in the job landscape, how do you determine which are worth working for? I ask this because while some are amazing others are getting quite a bit of funding without a whole lot of success. What do all of you think?

Brittani: I think first and foremost you have a true value proposition. Do you have a clear problem you are trying to solve? If so, how are you uniquely able to solve it? Lastly, what proof is there that you’ve solved it? If you don’t have any of these three things- run for the hills!

Arkan: That’s exactly right. If you don’t have a clear and strong value proposition, the money won’t be there.

Determine who you would be working with and who your leadership team is

Sheila: Management is one of the biggest keys to a good sales role. It’s important that you’re looking at the company, the people who work there, the product, the longevity of the employees… Resources like Glassdoor are great to find common threads, but I don’t think anyone should use Glassdoor necessarily as gospel.

Jill: Glassdoor isn’t always accurate, so I would take any review with a grain of salt. The reality is that you will see some great reviews and some horrible reviews. Really what you want to look for is consistency. If you see multiple negative reviews about management, that is probably a red flag. That said, if this is the case make sure to look at the date they were posted. Sometimes companies restructure and change so it’s no longer painting an accurate depiction. I would also look for long tenure of employees, that typically signifies if a company is worth sticking around at.

Brittani: Yes. You want to make sure that the team around you that has been there is established. Obviously, if it’s a startup that's an exception. If you’re a candidate far along or in the final rounds of the interview process, I would ask to sit with someone in a similar role and have a conversation with them about their team and what their role looks like. In fact, it may be even better to reach out on your own to ensure you are not heavily influenced by the bias of a top performer.

Arkan: I would strongly suggest this step. Just to ask about the specific day-to-day aspects of the role in regards to workload, tasks, that sort of thing. It’s important to find out the nitty gritty because you want to make sure that you will be in a position that challenges you and will make you better in the future. Bonus points if you have a personal connection– that’s huge. It’s always much more transparent.

Investigate what the role entails

Dan: For me, one of the toughest things is to determine what a role entails. You can have two positions with the same title but be vastly different roles. I think the best thing to do is to wait until the interview process and actually ask about the role and what it entails, in terms of specifics. Ask directly: are you going to be getting all the leads? Are you going to be able to do your own prospecting? What is the focus of the role? Are you going to have face time with clients?

Jill: To further that point, before you even go to the interview process you can always start off with Linkedin. Typically larger organizations, especially Fortune 500 companies, employ multiple people with the same job title so you can look across their profile descriptions and group commonalities of their day-to-day.

Brittani: That’s a great point Jill when the company is a large one. What about for smaller organizations that are less established? Sometimes the role descriptions aren’t always so cut and dry. You can’t always go into the role expecting X, Y and Z because the role is going to develop and evolve overtime and you're going to pick up extra responsibilities.

Sheila: It’s funny because I feel like every candidate wants to ask about role specifics… but why? If you are at a good company with a good leader I think at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Especially 2, 3, or even 4 years down the road. From my experience, most entry level roles are pretty general and as time goes on it is only natural to specialize, we start to see that here within Sales Talent Agency when people have been here for a few years. It’s hard when you have little to no experience or you’re just starting off.

Look for a company that offers training and development opportunities

Dan: I think one of the biggest ways to detect growth is to ask for a 3-5 year plan. Where can you expect to be in that time? What is the natural progression of the role? It is also good to know these things within yourself so you can strive to achieve them.

Brittani: A lot of people think of building their career as moving up the career ladder but in reality it’s more like a jungle gym. Obviously we should be doing things to progress our careers, but you also need to do something that you love. There are two questions I think you should consider asking yourself that not everyone does: 1) how can you move up? and 2) how can you move sideways? Definitely look at what’s going on in the marketplace and keep an eye out for opportunities that are exciting to you. I strongly suggest networking events.

Dan: We are truly in an enviable position at Sales Talent Agency because we are exposed to all sales roles across the board. I am exposed to literally, hundreds of companies on a weekly basis.

Have a clear idea of what the market is paying and what you are looking for

Brittani: I think in an entry level role the most important thing is what skills you are going to acquire from that role and how you are going to develop. Of course, you need compensation that is going to finance your life. I think at minimum you need to consider 35k as a base salary. From there it obviously goes up and you can ask for more once you start to prove yourself. Another thing with sales is that you have to consider the commission variable. A good way to assess this is to ask what their top performer is making, what people in the middle are making and how the commission structure is broken down and what you have to do on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis to achieve that target.

Dan: I feel like 100% commission is not very fashionable these days for companies to offer. That said, if you do see this kind of offer, it’s really only suitable for two types of salespeople: those who are amazing and can crush their quota and those who, well, can’t get any other job.

Jill: Exactly, I wouldn’t recommend accepting something like that if you’re just beginning your sales career.

Use the beginning of your career to gain experience before establishing your industry of choice

Arkan: At the beginning of your sales career I think it’s important to get your foot in the door, so industry doesn’t matter too much at that stage. As you gain a little bit of experience you will start to realize that while sales is similar across the board, each industry is a little bit different. Once you’ve established yourself for several years working at a place with the same role, then you want to hone your skills and start thinking about specializing, whether it’s in software sales or real estate. It’s harder to make that move later in your career which is why you don’t often see people transition from medical sales to software sales even though it is entirely possible.

Sheila: Another thing I’ve noticed is that new grads or students are very keen on 2 or 3 industries most often being technology or consumer packaged goods. That’s typically because they have exposure to them on a daily basis… but there is so much more than that.

Jill: My advice would be to remain open about industry and take on sales roles that offer transferable skills so you’re not stuck in one particular industry. Try to find a role in a company that has really established training, development and mentorship. That alone could overcome the fact that you're in an industry that you're not really that into.

Brittani: It’s always unfortunate when I see people judging a role based on industry. Learning doesn’t always have to be positive but it has to be exhaustive. There are ebbs and flows in every role- it’s just whether or not you get complacent there. That’s my personal stance.

Look for transparency throughout the job process as well as in the organization

Sheila: This is a huge one for me because I don’t ever want to feel nervous to ask my boss a question, especially if it’s a bold one. I need to know upfront whether or not I can get that transparency, especially when it comes to professional development.

Brittani: I agree, Sheila. You have to know where you stand, what the compensation will be, who your bosses will be, what you have to do to succeed. None of these things should be a surprise. It tells you a lot about a company when they are transparent early on.

Determine your personal motivating factors and incentives, so you can find a role that fits your needs

Jill: While ‘motivation’ is a huge umbrella term, it’s important to decide what factors are most important to you when looking for a job and whether or not the employer can meet your needs and expectations. Perhaps a motivating factor to you is a certain amount of money… maybe it’s a manageable workload because you have a family and don’t want to work 12 hour days anymore… maybe you don’t want to have to report into C level executives. These are all things you need to look at.

Dan: A lot of companies advertise jobs based on little perks like “we have a pingpong table” or “we offer free beer!”. The reality is, for me personally, I’d rather make more money and pay for my own $6 beer.

Arkan: Right- and while ‘unlimited vacation’ seems tempting in theory, in practice, top performers typically can’t afford to take countless days off because they are super focused on hitting their targets. I’d much rather solid health benefits or if the company offers a stock plan.

Sheila: All quality points made today. Thanks for everyone’s advice on this Recruiter Roundtable! I look forward to the next one!

Past Recruiter Roundtable Discussions

8 LinkedIn tips to land your next sales job

Today’s business world can be really confusing when managing your career. How to meet potential employers? How to dress for an interview? How to negotiate your offer or a raise? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you. In today’s roundtable we discuss best practices of curating your Linkedin profile (and other social media accounts) when it comes to landing your next sales job.

Chelsea and Dan discuss when it is and is not appropriate to share radical political views in the job hunt. Spoiler alert: Never.   In today’s panel: Jamie, Katherine, Dan, Ali, Sheila, Emily, Chelsea

Chelsea and Dan discuss when it is and is not appropriate to share radical political views in the job hunt. Spoiler alert: Never.

In today’s panel: Jamie, Katherine, Dan, Ali, Sheila, Emily, Chelsea

Choose a photo that reflects the role you have (or aspire to have)

Jamie: So this is the situation: we have a candidate who wants to give themselves the best opportunity to get noticed by an employer. They are looking at their online presence and have to figure out what they need to do to give themselves the best opportunity to not only be seen but be attractive to a future company. Let’s start with LinkedIn. What are we recommending?

Ali: Let’s start with the photo. This is your opportunity to give people a 10 second snapshot of who you are. Is your image posed, candid, with friends or corporate? I’d say definitely no selfies. My preference goes to those with professional style headshots on a dark background- I think it makes your features pop. Also someone who looks welcoming- this isn’t a passport photo! Overall, I feel like someone’s picture dictates the type of encounter you are going to have with them– I usually can get a pretty accurate reading of someone this way.

Katherine: I have a different perspective on this as I interact primarily with students. A lot of them have group photos or selfies which aren’t typically professional but we give them a call and they are great.

Chelsea: That said, it still detracts from the overall experience. I think you need a balance; you need to dress for the job you’re looking for. So, if you’re looking for a corporate job you should look a little more corporate in appearance and not too casual.

Write in first person (you’re not fooling anyone with that third person bio)

Dan: I’m always confused whether or not people should write in third person or first person. If you write in third person it gives me the impression, especially if you’re a Jr. candidate, that you think really highly of yourself. It’s also very subjective, if I wrote “Dan is the best salesperson out there” it begs the question of who said it. Did Dan say that… himself?

Emily: Keep it in first person. We know you wrote it. It’s on your profile. Keep it in first person- unless you have credible articles written about you (i.e. you’re a major influencer, celeb, person of interest, etc).

Sheila: I’m a big advocate of keeping it objective. I think that it's a lot easier for me to objectively speak to a number. I can get behind what the accomplishment was without feeling that I am being narcissistic in something that I’ve played a component in. I much prefer numbers and the objectiveness of talking about accomplishments. I do think it would be weird to write in third person i.e. “Sheila did this”.

Ali: I always tell people, if anything is subjective there should be a KPI behind it. Don’t be too subjective otherwise it's self-reflective. I.e. I personally made the best contribution in the organization in regards to X. There are no KPI’s there.

Keep your profile headline direct and focused

Jamie: What are your thoughts on someone who needs a job and puts a title on their profile that’s really market-y, like “enthusiastic life explorer looking for my next career”?

Dan: I think it’s hokey. Be focused with your goals and measurements. Keep it related. This is what we search for as recruiters- the title. We open profiles based on the title.

Ali: Keep it emoji-free and hold off on too many exclamation marks. It can cheapen your personal brand or make your profile look cluttered.

Build credibility by having a logical career progression

Jamie: What about when people inflate their job title?

Sheila: You can see it really easily just by looking at someone's career progression. It’s like when someone goes from a rep to a CEO/founder/philanthropist overnight. I don’t see how that was a logical next step. Typically it deters me from thinking the person is relevant.

Chelsea: Exactly. Someone’s profile needs to show a clear and logical progression and if it doesn’t you’re seen as less credible. Moreover, you want everything to be relevant to what you’re doing. If you’re a business development rep, how many calls are you making? I shouldn’t have to Google your position to figure out what you’re doing. Clearly outline what you do in your role. Use metrics and contextualize whenever possible.

Add colour by showing a mix of professional and personal highlights

Katherine: When I was in school my professor once said “Delete everything you have online. Don’t look crazy. Don’t look like an alcoholic. Don’t have religious views.” Basically don’t be anybody. So, we all went through changed our profiles, blocked everyone. This was all when were aggressively looking for jobs.

Jamie: I think the first piece of advice was aggressively wrong. It wasn’t wrong because he was trying to be wrong. But he was trying to be safe. When you are talking about a young person you are talking about potential over proof. Someone needs to be more. They need to see you having fun or with friends. If they see you doing something challenging like mountain biking or climbing they are going to see that as adding colour. If they don’t see anything at all it can make you lost in the shuffle. If you know you are actively and aggressively looking, build a profile that makes sense for you. Will this represent you well to everyone in your life?

Ali: Yes. Links are a great way to add colour as well. Depending on the role you are applying to, don’t hesitate to add a link to a personal website, portfolio, resume.

Sheila: With a media employer, it could be relevant to include a link to your Youtube channel. But to your point if you have someone applying for a sales position and they send a link to their beer tour that they hosted the past weekend, it’s not relevant. It’s similar to the saying ‘dress for the job you want’, show content you want employers to see.

If you’re embarrassed about your family witnessing it, what about your future employer?

Jamie: Let’s use that as a platform to talk about other forms of social media. Ten years ago we were told to check people's social media and that they had to be professional. What is the line now?

Sheila: I remember when I was just entering the workforce. I was sitting at Christmas dinner and my aunt and uncle said “you have to check your Facebook. No one's ever going to hire you”. When I asked for examples they’d say, “you’re holding a beer can in your hand”. Honestly, if an employer isn’t going to hire me because I drank a beer one time it’s probably not going to be a fit. There’s a delicate balance. I mean, if you’d be embarrassed that a member of your family was going to see it, or your employer could potentially stumble upon it… remove it. Everything is findable.

Jamie: That’s great advice. Would you want your nan to see it? If not, you should probably get it off of there. There is that divide between LinkedIn, that corporate profile, and everything else. As an employer you should be able to see a bit of both- someone who looks professional but that they’re also fun and will be a cultural contributor.

Think of your Instagram as a commercial for your life

Jamie: What do you think of social media in terms of what’s good and what’s bad?

Emily: It depends on the role that you are applying for, especially in the art and design community as Instagram is often an extension of your portfolio. I think when it comes to corporate jobs such as a social media manager or marketing coordinator, if you can’t build your own social media profile how can you build someone elses? A lot of employers are now asking for these links as part of the job process so it’s in your best interest to build those out. You are building your personal brand. So, your profile should reflect that; your hobbies, your interests… it’s a big picture look at you. A commercial for your life.

Jamie: Should it holistically be calculated? How much is too much construct?

Emily: I’m very big on the notion of having a personal brand that extends to the larger audience. In my opinion everyone should have their own brand and try to show a little bit about who they are in the digital realm.

Dan:  You drinking a beer. Fine. You being hammered. Bad. Being in sales you want to know that you’re going to hire someone who’s interesting to talk to so I see personal social media as an important indication of a quality hire.

Sheila: On a subliminal level, we all are curating asking ourselves: who is this for? What does this say about me? Does this picture make me look good? We are always self-editing. It is creepy but we are also showing versions of ourselves what we think are appropriate.

Hold off on any radical political views

Jamie: What about political opinions, are they appropriate to share?

Chelsea: I think that’s a dangerous subject. If I’m unsure about a candidate I’ll Google them. I worry that my client will see that they are super rampant and may not align with their company. For instance, if someone was very aggressive and radical on Twitter, I question how that would tie back into how he would conduct or represent himself in the company. How reasonable would he be?

Jamie: That’s a great point. On one hand we are saying to have an incredibly curated online presence where you aren’t a human and have no views or opinions… but on the other hand you are putting yourself in a spot where people are going to judge you way before they meet you… I think your social media has to be a thoughtful bit of both. If you can’t navigate that middle maybe you shouldn’t have social media at all… or a job. Well, that concludes another Recruiter Roundtable. Thanks everyone.

3 Tips to Sell Without Selling Out


By Katherine Perrin

I have a very interesting and unique job. Everyday I have the privilege of interacting with students, professors, colleges and universities, but what makes it unique is my mandate to sell them on why they should participate in a nationwide sales competition. The sell is not easy - sales has a large stigma associated with it, and some people don’t think that it is a real skill; others don’t think that it is a very sexy career choice. This is a clear problem and my job is to illustrate how sales is so much more than what they think it is.

Sales is the second highest advertised job nationally, so there has been a huge effort in the past couple of years to change students’ misconceptions about a career in sales. We are watching this shift happen and that is in large part due to initiatives like the Great Canadian Sales Competition (where over 3,500 students participated this year!) and professors integrating sales education into their curriculum.

Through my efforts selling the Great Canadian Sales Competition to thousands of students and professors coast-to-coast, I have learned a lot in the way I present this opportunity. In my early days I experienced a lot of direction, but with some failure, I revitalized my strategy and then began to see quite a bit of success. So, with that being said, please see below for a list of my 3 main sales tips that help me in my day-to-day conversations.

Tip 1: Don’t have the same pitch for everyone

Although this tip may seem simple at a first glance, it is often overlooked. This technique is known as what you call the “before” sale. Do your research and understand your audience and how they work, before trying to sell them on something. There are unlimited resources to get information -- so there is no reason why you shouldn’t already know about your prospect.

What I have learned:

This tip has been very useful for the Great Canadian Sales Competition’s ambassador program, as we task our ambassador force to sell their fellow students on participating in the GCSC. If a complete stranger walked up to you and asked you to pitch something in 30-90 seconds, you would most likely say no. However, our ambassadors get to know their prospects by asking them a series of questions about themselves. This not only builds rapport, but it provides the necessary background information for them to create a baseline for their “pitch”.

Tip 2: Show them why before what

Don’t start with what -- start with why. Why does your business solve a problem? Why does your organization exist? Why are you the best? This last tip is based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory where he emphasizes how the “why” is an impactful way to communicate and inspire others to act. Every business knows what they do or what their products do.

However, learning to communicate why you do what you do is a different ball game. So, why is this the best place to start? It creates a connection with your audience and allows them to make well thought out decisions.

What I have learned:

This year with the GCSC, we began a project where we started working with school partners to implement the GCSC into their curriculum. Before speaking with our potential school partners about what the competition is, we always speak to why Sales Talent Agency created the competition and more specifically why it’s helping to alleviate a problem that students are facing. Why do we do this? It allows us to build a connection with our audience and allows them to buy into why the competition is important.

Tip 3: Be passionate about what you do

Simply put, if you don’t believe in what you do why would anyone else? People can very easily tell if you don’t believe in what you are selling. So don’t fake it until you make it -- invest into a career where you are genuinely interested in what your business has to offer.

What I have learned:

Each summer my team works toward hiring 150 student ambassadors. As part of the interview process we have them submit a video telling us why they want to be a part of the program. This process not only allows us to hold them accountable to completing a task, but it also gives us insight to their passion towards the program. Through this we can very quickly see whether or not someone is genuinely excited or enthusiastic about working with our project.  

Please reach out to me with any questions about the Great Canadian Sales Competition. We’d love to hear from you!


What do you wear to a job interview?

Today’s business world can be really confusing when managing your career. How to meet potential employers? How to write a sales resume? How to negotiate your offer or a raise? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you. Today’s topic is “What do you wear to a job interview?”


Dress to appeal to the widest audience

Hayley: I once had a candidate come in with bling earrings that my client mentioned. He said ‘those earrings need to come out if he works for us’. Whether that’s wrong or outdated… that’s the reality. Especially when it comes to specific industries and old-school decision makers.

Katrina: I think there is a certain level of understanding and risk that you take on naturally when you go to an interview. Especially if you decide to roll up your sleeve to show off your tattoo. It adds a personal layer and can sometimes detract from what you have to say professionally.

Beth: Exactly. Once there was a guy who wouldn’t take off his nail polish. He said ‘This is me. If they are going to hire me, it’s with my black nail polish’. He definitely narrowed his audience right there. It was a bold move.

Make the statement piece YOU

Kailey: When it comes to styling yourself for an interview you want to keep it neutral. The whole idea is that you want to make yourself appeal to the widest audience; tone down the lipstick, the bold accessories, the statement shoe… YOU should be the focus of the conversation. Not your wacky bowtie or crazy nails.

Leave distracting accessories behind

Kailey: A guy once came in for an interview to do a presentation. He was very sharply dressed; steamed shirt, everything fit perfectly… but he was wearing suspenders and they kept falling down. He had to keep pulling them back up. It was a huge distraction to me throughout the entire interview. I wanted to ask him to remove them so I could focus. Same thing goes for girls and fiddling with jewelry.

One-size-does-not-fit-all: Use your judgement of what is appropriate for your body type

Natalie: When it comes to dressing appropriately for women, I think it’s hard to determine a ‘one-size-fits-all’ rule. I think it depends on many factors, the main one being body type. It’s especially hard when it comes to creating a general rule for dress and skirt lengths. For instance, I’ve definitely looked in the mirror and thought: ‘this is inappropriate’ because I’m tall and have longer legs. Even if I’m wearing a skirt below the knee with a modest heel I’ve felt there is too much emphasis on my legs and that flats would be better.

Truzanne: That’s a fair assessment. I also think tights for women are always a safe bet. Are they a must? No. But I think it’s harder for people to critique your outfit and say ‘too much leg’. Tights are just a general safe choice.

Katrina: You’re right, it totally depends on body type. I personally don’t think shorter women should wear dresses below the knee, but that’s just my opinion. What about footwear?

Air on the side of conservative, neutrals are always a safe bet

Hayley: Keep it basic. Not too high of a heel. Nothing loud. Again, shouldn’t be a statement piece as if you were going out with friends on the weekend. Black is always a safe choice, same with nude or any neutral colour really.

If you would wear it to a bar, you probably shouldn’t wear it to an interview

Kailey: I used to work in a very corporate environment and you were not allowed to wear boots over the knee. It was a hard rule.

Katrina: It’s interesting that we as women can’t wear over-the-knee boots. They are technically not inappropriate but could be deemed as ‘too sexy’ or risqué. I also think it’s different if you are wearing them with a dress showing your upper thigh versus a dark jean.

Natalie: Another tip for women is to watch the material of your clothing. If you are wearing a button-up shirt make sure the material isn’t see-through, you definitely don’t want your bra to be showing. Also, make sure your buttons are not open. It’s happened to me. I was actually interviewing a candidate. I looked down and both of my top buttons were open, I kid you not. For how long? I don’t know.

Truzanne: In terms of men's apparel, I’d say a general rule of thumb is dress to impress; slacks, a button up, nice shoes... And then the obvious- make sure your pants aren’t too long or short, shoes are tied, shirt is pressed, socks match, hair groomed… Go to the company’s website/Linkedin page and take a look at how the people are dressed in their photos.

Dress for the client/audience you will be selling to

Beth: If you do not have the luxury of working with a recruiter who can ask the client on your behalf, I’d say to go ‘suited and booted’. Everyone looks good in a suit. It sets a certain tone and impression. That said, sometimes clients say ‘Tell the candidate- no tie. No jacket. Slacks and a button up shirt... because that’s how I dress’. I think it’s important to match the industry you are going into because you wouldn’t dress the same across the board.

Katrina: I’ve have clients in the industrial space say, ‘you will be selling into a blue collar crowd so you want to match that’. In general, they would rather see the candidate more casual rather than suited up. This applies to both men and women.

Natalie: Unless you felt you were standing out like a sore thumb in the first interview because you were overdressed, you don’t want to give people the impression you have it in the bag by showing up to a second interview too casual or relaxed. If you’re that casual on the second interview, how are you going to look in your second month? You should treat every interview as if it’s your first interview– don’t have a huge change in how your present yourself.

Bring yourself, a resume and nothing else

Katrina:  Here’s another thing: when you arrive to your interview, don’t bring a coffee. You’re not there to drink a coffee. You’re there for an interview. It’s just awkward, especially if you need to shake someone's hand and you have your bag in the other hand...

Hayley: We literally had a candidate come in who was going to bring his shopping bags with him to his interview… and the interesting thing is that this candidate had done so much preparation– He was over-analyzing the interview... he wanted the job more than anything else… but he didn’t even think anything of bringing this Nordstrom shopping bag with Jimmy Choo’s for his girlfriend.

Beth: Oh my gosh! So there’s a rule- bring nothing but yourself, your resume and any other relevant materials for the interview. Nothing else.

If you have facial hair– groom it

Kailey: This next rule is for the men. Nowadays beards are especially in- I’d say 90% of the guys I’ve interviewed have had beards. I think you can have facial hair for an interview but it needs to be manicured. It can’t look scruffy. It needs to look like it’s well kept. Same goes for a haircut. It adds a level of polish, professionalism and overall attention to detail.

Truzanne: In some fields such as medical or pharmaceutical, I think a beard could even be a deterrent. I had a director of sales once tell me ‘men need to shave their beard’. Maybe this isn’t always 100% realistic, but the goal is to look sharp and being well groomed contributes to this. Your appearance speaks before you do.

Don’t subject people to your scent (whether that’s eau de parfum or au natural)

Katrina: This applies to hygiene as well– watch your body odour. Sometimes guys, or ladies, either don’t know they smell sweaty or on the flip side, absolutely reek of cologne/perfume. You shouldn’t get out of an elevator and subject people to your overly pungent scent- good or bad. Neutral is best. Again the focus should be you and what you have to say.

When in doubt, wear a blazer

Truzanne: This is a total sidenote but I’m curious to hear your thoughts: As women, I used to feel the only ways I could be business professional was if I was wearing a blazer.

Beth: I agree with you but I hate blazers.

Truzanne: When I was in school and I was attending business events… I would never know what to wear. I would ask people in H&M ‘do you think this is professional?’. I would always find myself going back to the blazer because whether you like them or not, it’s definitely a piece that says ‘business professional’.

Natalie: I agree. It’s not a fashion statement, it’s an item you need or will have to wear at some point. I think everyone should have a black blazer, a grey blazer… a general blazer that goes with everything...

Katrina: I always bring a blazer to client meetings. Even if you are wearing casual clothing such as jeans or a t-shirt underneath, I feel a blazer adds a level of class and professionalism over say, a sweater.

Beth: Alright. Well I will have to put one on my Christmas list then!!

(Everyone laughs)

Kailey: Well that wraps it up! Thanks everyone for yet another recruiter roundtable!

Be sure to check out our other Recruiter Roundtable's including our advice on navigating holiday parties and networking 101

How do you navigate your work's holiday party?

Today’s business world can be really confusing- especially in social settings. What is the protocol for office events? Are they mandatory? What about when alcohol is involved? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you.

Today’s topic is “How do you navigate your work’s holiday party?”

Clockwise: Dan, Danielle, Sheila (host), Brittany, Chelsea, Bana. Not pictured: Meredith, Nico, Emily

Clockwise: Dan, Danielle, Sheila (host), Brittany, Chelsea, Bana. Not pictured: Meredith, Nico, Emily

Sheila (our host): Today’s scenario: you’re bracing yourself for your work holiday party. How do you balance having fun and being professional?

Nico: The first thing that I am going to say is that I think you have to be comfortable with the decisions that you make. The question I always ask myself is: am I going to wake up tomorrow and regret anything I did? This is the same mentality I have when I go out with my friends.

Sheila: So I think you’re alluding to how much you drink, right Nico? What are everyone else’s thoughts.

Dan: I’m scared of getting drunk at the party so I really pace myself.

Bana: To second that, I always try and be more aware when I am at a work function. I don’t drink as much as I normally would. At the end of the day you want to be perceived as professional when you come back into the office on Monday. You can have fun but I’d reconsider that last drink.

Sheila: What are some tips for not kicking yourself come Monday?

Bana: One tip is to watch the leadership team at the holiday party and gauge what is appropriate from there.  

Chelsea: I just graduated from university. I’ve never been to a work Christmas party ever. I know a lot of the scouts are the same. I’m sure a lot of us will be really careful to not be that new person who’s just going off the rails who’s too drunk and uncontrollable.

Sheila: So to everyone who has never been to our holiday party, what does success look like to you? What are you hoping to get out of going to our holiday party.

Brittany: “Hey, I work here”

(everyone laughs)

Danielle: I think I want to use it as a chance to bond with everyone. Get to know everyone.

Bana: As someone who has worked here for years I also try and be opportunistic about getting to know people that you work with. I especially think it’s a great opportunity to engage with the leadership team that you don’t directly interact with on a daily basis.

Meredith: And even if you do engage with leadership regularly you can still work to further that relationship. That said, I don’t think you should corner your boss and ask for a raise or promotion. Definitely not an appropriate platform to have those discussions.

Sheila: What are some appropriate talking points with your boss?

Nico: Vacation plans. Christmas- great go to. What are you getting for Christmas. All safe bets.

Meredith: I think it’s also healthy to reflect on your year you’ve had. Obviously you’ve had ups and downs. Just say ‘It’s been a great year. Thank so much for your leadership’. Acknowledge they are the healm of everything you’ve been doing for the last year.

Chelsea: And I imagine work’s naturally going to come up, especially at the end of the quarter. We all work closely as a team so some personal stuff may come up as well.

Meredith: On that personal note, introduce your plus one!

Emily: But don’t bring your new Tinder date.

(Everyone laughs)

Sheila: Agreed. Now, here’s a question. What do you wear?

Meredith: Something festive and something dressier than you would normally wear on a day to day. Something that is more formal and less business. It’s an occasion. You don’t have to show up in a blazer and a pencil skirt, but of course if that’s what you're comfortable with, that’s fine too. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is any piece of skin that you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing in the office- you shouldn’t show. I wouldn’t wear a crop top to work so therefore I wouldn’t wear to the office party.

Dan: What about for guys?

Bana: I think jeans and a nice dress shirt. Keep it simple. Keep it casual.

Emily: I’d go for a suit.

Nico: Agreed. I dress to impress.

Meredith: It all comes down to your preference so long as you’re not crossing any line.

Sheila: And a tip for that is if you’re questioning something, just move onto another outfit.

Sheila: So let’s say you do go over the top, or you wear the wrong outfit. How do you recover come Monday?

Nico: Unless you do something horrendous you are not going to be scarred forever. You can recover. If you do get a little too drunk, you can learn for next time.

Meredith: The only time it will rub people the wrong way is if you’re making the same mistake one too many times.

Sheila: With that kind of risk, would it be easiest just not to go?

Nico: 100% you should go.

Bana: It’s a silly opportunity to miss out on. Even on my maternity leave I made it to the party!

Brittany: I am obviously excited to go but I’ll be honest that this is intimidating for me. Two weeks into the job… I don’t really know anyone… Do I just stand around… who do I talk to?

Dan: You’re also at a Christmas party with people who talk for a living.

Emily: ...And have made 7 new friends doing this Roundtable, so you’re golden.

(everyone laughs)

Sheila: So you’re at the party… are you early or are you late?

Dan: I was first there last year.

Nico: I would say fashionably late.

Sheila: How late?

Nico: ...5 or 10 minutes late. 8:30, 8:35. You have to walk in so everyone looks at you. No one looks at the first person

Dan: I can vouch for that.

Sheila: But if you’re late you’ll miss the food!

Meredith: Oh yes, don’t ignore the buffet.

Nico: Eat some food before too, especially if you’re drinking.

Sheila: On that note if you’ve been heavily drinking, when is it time to leave?

Bana: When you take your heels off it’s time to leave.

Brittany: If there’s less than 5 people on the dance floor or that last shot isn’t sitting well with you, it’s time to leave.

Meredith: Don’t over or under stay your welcome. It’s all about balance. Also keep the venue in mind. If the party is at a public place, fine. If it’s at your boss's house- be respectful of that.

Sheila: Thanks Meredith for the final point and thanks to everyone who contributed today- this concludes another Recruiter Roundtable!

Our tips:

  • Be opportunistic with the leadership team
  • It is okay to arrive 5 minutes late, but not 30
  • Expand your network… don’t be cliquey
  • Follow the leaders on alcohol volume (never drink more than they do)
  • Dress to impress, not to attract
  • Eat before and during the party
  • Be thankful to those around you, but don’t be a sycophant
  • Choose your plus one wisely

Sales Talent Agency presents: A Candidate's Guide to Interviewing

While not all bosses will be as hard to impress in an interview as Miranda Priestly in the Devil Wears Prada; preparation, dress code, timing and post interview follow-ups will set you up for success.

While not all bosses will be as hard to impress in an interview as Miranda Priestly in the Devil Wears Prada; preparation, dress code, timing and post interview follow-ups will set you up for success.


This job is now within your grasp and it is up to you to ensure you put your best foot forward. Following are some simple tips and advice for how to prepare for-and conduct yourself during and after-this interview.

The most important thing to remember:

Approach the interview as though it is a sale - the product you are selling is you! Do not think you can "wing" an interview: preparation = success. Whether this is your dream job or a role that you are not sure you want yet, prepare thoroughly and always aim to get further short-listed for the role. You can always reject a job that you do not want, but you can never take back a bad first impression.


  • Make sure you know the time, location and details/role of the person you will be interviewing with.
  • Thoroughly explore the Company's website to get a feel for its products and services, its culture, and how it positions itself to its customers
  • Read the job profile thoroughly and ensure you understand what you would specifically be responsible for in this role
  • Ask your Sales Talent Agent why they are recommending you to move forward (this will help you understand why they think you are a good fit for the role and what the client has asked them for). Make sure you also ask what-if any-"red flags" they have about you that may put off their client (e.g. gaps in your resume that you have not adequately explained)
  • List the reasons why you think you are a great fit for this specific role and prepare success stories/anecdotes that support this (e.g.: you exceeded quota each of the last 3 years and were the top performer on your team)
  • List the reasons why you may not be the "ideal" candidate and prepare to address those concerns
  • Prepare 5 appropriate questions that you want to ask. IMPORTANT: know the difference between an appropriate question (e.g. What are some of the challenges a person will face in their first 6 months in this role?) and an inappropriate question (e.g. How quickly can I be promoted?)
  • Know your metrics: what was your quota in your last 2-3 roles? What percentage of quota did you hit? What percentage of these sales were net-new business? How did you rank compared to other sales reps in the same role? Were you responsible for sourcing your own leads?  Remember: your interviewer is looking for proof that you are a great sales professional who can meet and exceed set goals, so be prepared to talk about this. If you have ANY documentation of your sales performance, or any positive letters from your clients or superiors, make sure to bring these to your interview. Proof of accomplishments is worth 1000 words and can definitely help differentiate you from the crowd

Dress code

  • In the entire history of Sales Talent Agency we have NEVER had a client reject a candidate because they were "over-dressed", but have had lots of candidates rejected because they were too casually dressed. You should be going for a clean, professional look-every time!
  • No matter what the role or the company (blue-collar, white collar or trendy ad agency), you should always wear a suit (or equivalent) to an interview
  • Make sure your clothes are pressed, your hair is neat and tidy, your fingernails are spotless, there is nothing between your teeth, you are clean shaven and your breath is fresh
  • DO NOT WEAR perfume or cologne-no matter how many people have told you how great it smells on you! It can be extremely distracting to certain people and especially in small office spaces. You should look and smell clean. That means no sweat, no cigarettes, no perfumes. NO EXCEPTIONS


  • Never be late for an interview. Traffic is never a good excuse (it makes you look unprepared, and great sales people are NEVER unprepared). Plan to be at the interview location 15-minutes prior to the interview BUT only walk into the office 5 minutes prior to your appointment
  • If your interviewer is running late, use this time to try and find out more about the company. Read the magazines/internal newsletters in the reception area; watch how people within the company engage with you and each other; engage politely with the reception staff and stay off your phone (unless in an emergency)


  • It is okay to be nervous-you SHOULD be nervous! If you are too confident, you likely are not well prepared and are taking this opportunity or the interviewer too lightly. Take some deep breaths, keep a smile on your face, and don't let the nerves over-power you.

In the Interview

  • Treat an interview like you would treat the first meeting with a new prospect. In other words: remember that you are selling and that the interviewer is buying. In later stages of the interview process-once the employer has decided that you could be a valuable contributor to their company-you can start buying and let them sell the culture, package and opportunity to you. THIS IS NOT THAT TIME!
  • You should be engaging and polite at all times. Listen to the interviewer's questions and ensure you have adequately answered them.
  • Be careful of asking too many or inappropriate questions at this stage. There are good questions for you to ask in a firstinterview and there are bad questions to ask. Good questions show that you are interested in the client, the culture and their goals for the role (e.g. asking the interviewer what attracted them to the company). Bad questions make you are only interested in what is in it for you (e.g. asking how much money you will make in your first year)
  • Beware: Be mindful of interviews that seem really casual and friendly! It's often a trap to see how in control you are of the sales process. Remember, your goal is to move yourself forward to the next round of the interview process. Be friendly, build rapport, but make sure you stay on focus!

Closing the Interview

  • Recognize when your interviewer is trying to wrap up the interview-don't overstay your welcome
  • As a good sales person, you want to ensure you are moving to the next step. A great way to do this would be to thank the interviewer for their time, reiterate your strongest attributes for the role, and let them know that you are interested in the opportunity and moving forward. Finally ask if there are any concerns that they have that would stop you progressing further so that you can address them before your leave or follow-up with a response

Post Interview

  • Immediately following your interview call your Sales Talent Agent to let them know how it went (they will then know that the interview is ended and will get additional feedback from the interviewer)
  • Send a thank you email (would not suggest card - takes longer) - be sure to proof read - it is such a positive thing to do and if there are spelling/grammatical mistakes, this will only hurt you vs. help you - feel free to send to your Sales Talent Agent for review first if you want feedback

5 tips to ace your next networking event

Today’s business world can be really confusing when managing your career. How to meet potential employers? How to dress for an interview? How to negotiate your offer or a raise? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you. Today’s topic is “How do you network?”

Clockwise: Xander, Sheila, Jamie, Sonya, Lidia, Armin, Kelsey (not pictured) and Emily (taking the picture).

Clockwise: Xander, Sheila, Jamie, Sonya, Lidia, Armin, Kelsey (not pictured) and Emily (taking the picture).

Emily (Our Host): Today’s scenario: You’re at a networking event and want to be noticed. You feel uncomfortable and awkward- what do you do?

Sheila: Networking is an uncomfortable thing for me and most people, but what I learned from Sonya is to have a specific goal in mind for what I want to get out of it. I would rather have one quality outcome than networking for the sake of networking.

Sonya: I think everyone has to decide upfront what their goal is. If you want an internship opportunity I think you have to be honest and upfront about that. I’m always impressed when someone comes up and has seen something our company has done or i’ve done. I’m impressed when people generally come up to me and start a conversation. It shows courage and maturity. That said, someone once found my instagram and quoted a hashtag I used. I found that creepy. It was a crossing of a boundary.

Xander: I think it can get awkward if someone stays with you a little too long. You need to have emotional intelligence so you can infer whether or not someone is being short with you and whether or not you need to move on.

Sheila: You have to remember that this networking event is not going to get you a job offer. You have to think of it as a first step and then follow-up the next day. You’re not going to a networking event to have a full interview or sign a service agreement. It’s not the platform to go deep. It’s just a next step. Anything over five minutes feels awkward to me.

Armin: I agree. I think you need to state your intentions up front.

Jamie: I find it awkward when someone comes to talk to me but they don’t really tell me what they want.

Armin: Yeah. I also find it can be awkward when everyone is talking and you’re looking around trying to find a group to join…

Sonya: That’s me!

Sheila: Sometimes everyone works together and you’re the odd one out and someone brings up ‘Trisha’s lunch’ and you just think ‘well I’m the odd one out in this group’. Wrong group.

Sonya: Last time that happened to me... I took a selfie and sent it to my team! I was standing there in the corner like a wallflower. It was my worst nightmare!

(Everyone laughs)

Kelsey: I usually stand there on my phone awkwardly...

Jamie: I think we need to learn to put our phones away otherwise we won’t get what we want out of it.

Xander: Body language plays a big part in that as well. Think about how you’re standing. Shoulders back, smile.

Jamie: I think it’s important to note that no many how many years you do this it’s still awkward. It’s not awkward just because you may be new to this. I’ve been at this for 25 years.

Sonya: Some people just have their ‘move’. I know one person who hangs out by the pizza and offers people the dipping sauce. He offer’s the dipping sauce!!! He calls it his ‘move’.

(Everyone laughs)

Kelsey: Normally my move is saying to someone ‘have I met you before... or have I just stalked your linkedin profile?” I say it all the time- it usually gets a laugh. But it’s actually true!

Jamie: Bring a friend but both of you have to have the idea of talking to others. It’s almost like building an alliance. If everyone's feeling awkward, find someone who’s just as awkward as you and do it together.

Emily: Okay. Scenario: You strike up a conversation with another person. You exchange respective job descriptions and the conversation goes stale. Now what? How do you make your exit?

Sonya: I would say “It was really great to meet you” and then let them know that you want to meet someone else who can help you achieve your goal of the night.

Sheila: I always say “I’m going to let you go now”.

Jamie: Ruthless.

(Everyone laughs)

Sonya: They say your network is your networth. You can always learn something from everyone.

Jamie: What if you’re shy?

Lidia: I’m pretty shy and for me you just have to rip the bandaid off and go for it.

Kelsey: Go get a drink. Go get a slice of pizza. Find a situation where you can make an easy intro to someone.

Sheila: Another strategy is volunteering. Your busyness will create an easier transition into networking.

Jamie: In these events you can always smell the people who are the busiest who people want to talk to versus the person who is scared. One thing you can do is to look a little more urgent. Look as if you have something to do without touching your phone.

Sheila: I think networking is a lot like going for a job interview; the best outcome always comes when you are prepared.

Kelsey: Yeah. Also making an a positive and memorable impression. Offer insight. If you are going to contribute, add something of value.

Sonya: Follow-up. The work you do for today is not really for today. Even if you made a horrible impression. It doesn’t matter. Follow up. You can always provide value later “oh you mentioned you were interested in blockchain and I just came across this really interesting article”.

Armin: An alternative idea is to have conversations not about the objective. Just a general conversation. Then in the follow up mention what your goal is. Sometimes you don’t want to pester for data points right away.

Jamie: There’s a fine line between talking about what you want and not saying anything. Everyone’s there for a reason.

Emily: Great point Jamie. Alright, well thanks everyone for taking part in our first ever Recruiter Roundtable. Up next: What to wear to your next job interview: Women’s edition.

5 things to keep in mind before your next networking event

  • Put away your phone
  • Set a goal
  • Don't forget your follow up
  • Add value
  • Go outside of your comfort zone

Advice on Creating a 30/60/90 Day Plan for Your New Job

So, you’ve been tasked with delivering a 30/60/90 day plan to land your next sales role. While it may seem like a time-consuming task up front, the investment you make in time and effort now will pay off down the road.

Your future employer is asking you to build this plan for the following 3 reasons:

  • To predict how quickly you will ramp-up

  • To gauge how invested you are in the role

  • To see how you react under stress and scrutiny

Taking part in this task is an excellent way to showcase both your expertise and strategic planning ability. The following breakdown was created to serve as a baseline template for each stage.

30 days

The first 30 days of the plan is about showing your eagerness to become an expert. Not every boss has the time or desire to hand-hold each new employee. Because of this, they seek those who are self-motivated and can hit the ground running.

In the first 30 days you should be focused on equipping yourself for success, namely by building your sales ‘tool-kit’. Use this as an opportunity to learn about the company’s processes; their systems, products, services, CRM’s and sales cycles. Understand the company’s value proposition, marketing templates, and if given the opportunity, interview top-performing peers to gain valuable insight into the company. And lastly, the first 30 days are a time to understand the competition in the marketplace by identifying “low-hanging-fruit” potential clients, to learn your territory/opportunity base and – if available – to review current clients purchasing/contact history.

This is the time to show how you have set yourself up with a solid understanding of the company and are determined to succeed as a top-performer.

60 days

Once the initial leg work is out of the way, this is your opportunity to show the practical experience you have and how you will employ it. Perhaps this entails getting in front of customers or overcoming pushback/rejection in the sales cycle. At this stage you will need to learn what a good “discovery process” looks like in that specific role (i.e. what do you need to understand your potential client in order to be effective).

This is the ideal time to ask for feedback to see how you are doing. It’s also an ideal time to outline specific activity targets that you want to meet (I.e. “minimum of 30 customer conversations per week”).

90 days

The last 30 days of your master plan are when you show what you are bringing to the party. By this time you should be up to speed on how to navigate your role with independence and how to contribute significantly. You should now know your way around and be initiating things on your own; thinking of ways to increase customers or revenue, generating ideas to save time or money, implementing plans or schedules, fine-tuning your schedule and continuing to get performance feedback.

The overarching aim of your plan is to get your hiring manager to picture you in the role and have no objections about your work ethic or potential.

Details matter

The more details you can incorporate, the better. Specifics count here. Take the time to find out the name of the software used and put that in your 30-day section. Alternatively, you can incorporate the name of training and specific mantras used internally, if known. Also, don’t forget to include the activity/revenue goals that you plan to achieve. To discover these kinds of specifics, it's important that you research the company as well as the goals for the position.

In Conclusion

The point of the 30/60/90 day plan is to have a high-level conversational piece to discuss in your interview. Moreover, it’s a great tool for the hiring manager to understand your thought process, so don’t worry about getting it ‘wrong’. This is also a chance to hear any feedback the hiring manager may have for you. The fact that you’ve gone above and beyond in the creation of your plan already is something that will elevate you in their eyes to show that you are determined, enthusiastic and energetic. Overall, this task shows qualities that are difficult to show on a resume; that you're a hard worker who thinks critically about tasks and can prioritize while setting goals.

5 menswear looks to upgrade your office wardrobe for fall

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As a formal dress code no longer exists (hello 2017) getting ready for work can leave us in limbo. How does one navigate that ambiguous space of looking office sharp without coming across as stuffy and drab or worse yet- overly casual?

Fall is the perfect time to introduce a few staple pieces to elevate your look. Pair one or two new garments with your existing wardrobe and watch how people take note. The holy grail takes place when one comes across as polished and professional yet still injects their own personal flavour.

At your service

Off duty or on, add some depth to your greys, blacks and navy blues this fall with a touch of moss green.

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Quilt till you wilt

For those who seek comfort in their work attire, fall 2017 has delivered. Wear a quilted bomber paired with trousers for a more comfortable spin on professionalism.

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Roll with the punches

Your neck will be well protected this fall as roll necks are a must have! Pair a roll neck with dark denim or a cardigan and trouser for the ultimate fall look.

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Throwin' Back

Say hello to the 80’s with the oversized, double breasted suit jacket making it’s return.  Pair it with a crew neck and dark denim for a sophisticated yet casual look.

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Wide-leg trouser

Fall 2017 is all about comfort. From quilted fabrics to a more relaxed pant fit, late nights at the office just got a whole lot easier.

Happy styling!

Lidia Aiello is a personal stylist working in the downtown Toronto area. She specializes in everyday office looks that make you look and feel your personal best. For more information on working with Lidia, visit her personal site here.

5 Fall womenswear looks you'll wish you were wearing to the office right now


By Lidia Aiello

Fall is here and we're collectively glad we no longer need to shiver under pashmina scarves (masking our chic summer ensembles) while getting our work done at the office. That said, many of us still ask ourselves what is and is not appropriate to wear when heading out the door.

The overarching theme is this: a formal work dress code no longer exists.  The corporate sector now allows employees to wear jeans and leggings to work and even the House of Chambers in Britain has agreed that it is time to rethink their dress code.

Sometimes having too much choice can be paralyzing, especially as a women. Do you wear pants? A dress? A skirt? What's a suitable length for said skirt? What about tops and tank tops? What is appropriate and what crosses the line?

Below you'll find our top-5-fall-picks that are 100% office appropriate and most of all, stylish.

Lady in Red

Associated with power, determination, passion and desire, red is the colour of fall. Wear this memorable colour as an accent or a head to toe ensemble (if you dare)  and you’ll be sure to go un-missed.

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Do the Polka

Extravagant, Parisian and feminine. You can’t go wrong with this timeless classic.

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Victorian Collars

The turtlenecks fancy older sister comes out to play this fall. Pair this elegant neckline with a trouser or skirt for a respectable and lasting impression.  

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A Boy's Life

No frills, just powerful women. With pant suits making a come back, the men in the office will be restless in their boardroom seats.

The Middy

Why go mini when you can go middy? This fall, mid length skirts are in full effect. Pair this skirt with a tall boot for the ultimate fall look.

Happy styling!

Lidia Aiello is a personal stylist working in the downtown Toronto area. She specializes in everyday office looks that make you look and feel your personal best. For more information on working with Lidia, visit her personal site here.

Does your sales pitch meet these 5 key criteria?



Crafting a good pitch can be the difference between having a door open, or not. It is one of the most critical components of the sales process and it’s important to think carefully about what you are trying to sell and who you are selling to.

Below are 5 key elements to keep in mind when considering that perfect P-I-T-C-H

P- Problem solver (Show how you have a solution that works)

First thing is to identify a problem that exists and what the solution is that you have to help solve that problem.  Sales is really problem solving in disguise, so it’s critical to think about what problem you are looking to help with.

I- Inspire an action (Have an end goal in mind that you’re leading them to)

It’s important to have an end goal so that you know what direction you’re heading. We’ve all heard the term 'getting to a close' and it’s ok to say upfront what your goals are, whether it’s buying a case of steak knives, or requesting a professional business meeting.  Getting that next step or inspiring a positive action, is the most critical component of an effective pitch.

T- Tailor it to the audience

Make sure you’ve done your research; know who you are talking to, (or if selling to a company, know everything about that company) what their own goals might be and why what you have to say is important. Part of knowing what is important to them is also asking good questions.  One of the most critical components in sales is asking good questions and a great first pitch should open the door for that 2nd step which is a meeting to discuss and learn more about the goals of the customer.  A well tailored pitch will get you to the next step in the sales process.

C- Concise (be quick and to the point)

We live in a Twitter Universe where people’s expectations are that you can make a concise argument in 140 characters, or 30 seconds!  That’s pressure!

It’s called an elevator pitch because if you’re in an elevator with someone you want to hire you, you have about 30 seconds before the elevator reaches the lobby to get him or her to take your card. By tailoring it to them and solving a problem they have, you’re more likely to keep their attention and inspire an action.

H- Heart (Be passionate!)

Passion is contagious!! Be passionate about what you’re selling. Whether you’re selling yourself or your product, show them why it’s important and why they should care – with passion!

Be authentic and always be professional.

Learn more about crafting the perfect pitch here

Selling yourself for your first sales job



We all know the infamous saying: you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job. As such, the idea of drafting a resume as a student is a daunting and seemingly impossible task.

I’ve reviewed resumes professionally in two capacities: one as a Student Career Leader at Western University and one as a B2B Sales Recruiter at Sales Talent Agency. When I was a student leader I was trained to help students show off the transferable skills they have gained; when I was a sales recruiter I coached new grads to highlight not just what they did but what they accomplished. Sales is a very metrics oriented profession and that should be taken into consideration when drafting a sales resume regardless of your career level.

The 5 tips below are designed to help you craft your first resume out of school to help leverage you for your first sales position.

1. Make it as easy for prospective employers to contact you

If you’re hoping for someone to contact you, make it as easy as possible for the person reviewing your resume to do so. The basic contact information you want to highlight should include your address, phone number (remember to set up voicemail!) and email address.

2. Be conscious about the location you are choosing

What address do you choose? Trust me, I’ve been there - I was studying in London, my hometown was Burlington and I wanted to work in Toronto. When you are selecting the address to put on your resume choose the one that is most aligned to where you will be located when you graduate. If you are open to relocating be sure to include that as well.

3. Don’t underestimate the experience you already have

Before you start putting pen to paper, complete this simple exercise: for each role you’ve had, both paid and unpaid, write down what you did, what transferable skills you developed and what you accomplished. When you go in for a sales interview, your hiring manager will be interested in your activity, but will also want to ensure that your activity delivered results. So how can this be applied for your experience that isn’t a direct sales role?

  • Restaurant experience:
    • Did your restaurant ever push items to upsell? If so, how did you perform?

    • Were you ever recognized for having the highest sales?

  • Did you receive accolades for outstanding customer service and/or sales?

  • Volunteer Experience

    • Fundraising experience is very applicable to sales. Did your team have a goal? Did you meet or exceed it?

    • Did you have to get sponsors? If so, how many calls did you make and what was the result?

    • How did you measure success? Did your team do a great job?

  • Awards

    • What was the criteria? How did you win? How competitive was it?

  • Extracurriculars and Sports

    • Did you win an election? Win a championship? Take charge on a team? One of the first things that hiring managers will evaluate is the level of someone’s drive and a competitive go-getter spirit is a sure fire way to relay that you have a lot of it.

4. Be concise with your descriptions and clear on your accomplishments

I’ve heard a lot of rules on campus on the number of pages and bullets per section of a resume. The general rule should be that every line on your resume should be relevant and everything should be something you can confidently speak to. The other thing to consider is that everyone has different styles and that is very okay. Here are some examples that I put together based on my own experience, but use this only as a guideline -- be yourself!

Western University - Career Leader September 2010 - April 2011

  • As a team, assisted 802 students with resume, job searches and interview skills in one-on-one drop in times

  • Co-facilitated informative workshops about how to prepare a resume and cover letter for existing university students, with notable attention to our international student body

Richardson GMP - Intern July 2010 - September 2010

  • Worked with a team in transferring over 40,000 client files into an electronic database
  • Remained flexible and reliable in order to complete the project on time and on budget

National University of Rwanda, Africa - Intern May 2010 - July 2010

  • Actively participated in the development and grand opening of Butare’s first ice-cream shop “Inzozi Nziza” where a team of interns took on projects related to accounting, operational booklets and computer manuals

Western University - Residence Don August 2008 - April 2010

  • Promoted from the position of Residence Advisor to Residence Don in my second year on Residence Staff

  • Planned and executed regular floor meetings for new students to discuss any events, opportunities for advancement, and to strengthen the floor dynamics and was also recognized for having the best floor meetings across campus

5. Do not invent experience you do not have

You should be excited and prepared to speak to the experience you put on your resume and trust me - the hiring manager you are sitting across from will know if you are overemphasizing your previous job responsibilities.

When hiring managers are hiring at an entry level they are not looking for experience; they are looking for strong drive, great nature and potential to develop business acumen.

Your resume (and interview) should highlight that you are eager to learn, that you’ve developed some great transferable skills and have had some exposure to the workplace that has given you glimpses into your strengths and opportunities for improvement. Embrace it and don’t mask it with experience you can’t yet back up.


For students eager to learn more about sales and landing a sales job please be sure to submit a pitch for the Great Canadian Sales Competition this fall! 


I've landed my first job. Now what?

Working with Sponsors such as UPS within my first year as the Competition Coordinator with the Great Canadian Sales Competition.

Working with Sponsors such as UPS within my first year as the Competition Coordinator with the Great Canadian Sales Competition.


It’s hard to believe that just a year and a half ago I was a new graduate entering my first role out of school, with the Great Canadian Sales Competition. Furthermore, it’s hard to believe how fast the time has passed by. I remember my first day. My first week. At the time, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. As I am sure most recent grads experience, it was completely different -- but it was great.

I started with the Great Canadian Sales Competition as the Competition Coordinator and Regional Manager of Ontario. I was the first full time hire for the competition, outside of its Director, Sheila Cassidy. As such, the role required us both to be extremely flexible and there were a lot of times that it felt like that old saying “you either sink or swim”. There were a lot of learning curves within defining what my role was and what the competition actually needed from a Coordinator.

I am now the Manager of Campus Recruitment and Operations and I have the opportunity to manage this year’s Competition Coordinator and Regional Managers. I entered a growing company, in a brand new role and I learned a lot along the process. By all means, I am no expert on how to succeed in a new position, but I do feel inclined to share what I learned. See below my 5 tips to help you define your place within a new role and company in your first year.  

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

First off, be resourceful. There are many resources that you can utilize to figure something out - and trust me, your boss will appreciate the initiative. But with that being said, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your boss wants nothing more than to see you succeed, so ask them questions. Use them for their knowledge. There is absolutely no reason why you should start working on something and have to redo it, just because you didn’t ask the question.

Identify your strengths

Your strengths are ultimately the keys to your success. Everyone has different strengths in different areas. From the get-go start to identify what you like and what you are good at. See what excites you and look to see what you do differently than everyone else. Start practising these skills and start to define them. And lastly ask to be a part of projects that utilize these skills.

Work on your weaknesses

Everyone has things that they wish they were better at, but I’ve learned to look at them less like weaknesses and more like an opportunity to develop. Ask for feedback. Chances are if you think you are weak in an area, your boss probably does as well. Utilize them to coach you through your weakness and to help you improve it.  

Enhance your credibility

As cliche as it sounds, don’t be the last person in the office and the first person to leave. You need to prove to your boss and yourself that you deserve to be there. Go above and beyond when asked to complete a project. And when that is finished, be proactive and find other ways to put your skills to use.

Take Initiative

You may be new to the role, but don’t sit through meetings in silence. Show the initiative to engage and contribute to the conversion. Utilize meetings as a way to learn as much as you can about your organization and the way that it works. You need to be visible. The more people that see and hear you, the sooner that they will come to you in the future for help.

Feeling overwhelmed with extra-curricular involvement? Choose your lane.

Elite Daily stated that “we live in a society in which productivity is considered to be a highly valued aspect of life. If you seek to impress someone, whether it's at a job, networking or in everyday relationships, people will wonder what you're up to. ‘Nothing’ is an answer that’s often frowned upon, as is general laziness”. However, it seems that for the most part this statement is misconstrued, especially by those who are young, hungry and eager to impress - students.

How I Landed 2 Amazing Co-op Positions Without Applying to an Online Job Posting

Prior to going into my second year of University I was approached by Sheila Cassidy, Director of the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC), regarding an ambassador position at St Francis Xavier University (StFX). When I received her message, I was unsure what I would be getting myself into - I knew absolutely nothing about sales, but I had nothing to lose so I gave it a shot. Little did I know, just how much I had to gain from taking on this opportunity! I took the call with Sheila and quickly realized there was a huge networking opportunity that the GCSC would offer my fellow students and I.

Unlearning What I Thought I Knew About Sales

If you asked me a year ago if I would have considered sales as a career, I probably would have said “no” with a large degree of certainty. But in reality I was uneducated about what sales consisted of and what a sales career actually looked like. Working as an on-campus Ambassador for the Great Canadian Sales Competition (GCSC) really helped me to understand what sales actually was and ultimately led me to the exec position I now hold with the team.

How extra-curriculars made me job ready


When I think back to the earlier days of my education, I remember one particular day like it was yesterday. A man from Enactus Canada came to one of my marketing classes to speak about the benefits of extracurricular activities. He said “How many of you want to get a job after graduating?” I raised my hand. I looked to my left and looked to my right and everyone else had their hands raised too. “How many of you want to get a marketing job after you graduate?”

Again, I raised my hand. I looked to my left and looked to my right and everyone had their hands raised again. He then said “This is your competition, what is going to set you apart?” And then it hit me, this was just my competition at my school. There would be tons of graduates from universities and colleges in the GTA region that would also be my job competition. From almost every stand point these facts were daunting.

So, what was going to set me apart? And my answer was extra-curriculars.

Throughout my journey in the Niagara College School of Business I constantly strived to do my best academically. In fact, in my 3 year marketing program, I graduated with Honors Standing and at the top of my class. But, not only did I try to do well academically, I tried to be involved with as many extracurricular activities as I could manage between my academics and working part-time.

I tried out and was selected to be a part of Niagara College’s Marketing Team from 2013 to 2015. Through this I became a silver medalist in market research and 1st runner up in retail marketing at the Ontario College’s Marketing Competition. I was also one of three Niagara College students selected in 2014 to complete at a national level marketing competition called the BDC Case Challenge. BDC involved 16 hours a week of training and a lot of hard work, but provided me with new and exciting skill sets.

I was also selected to be the Vice President of Enactus Niagara College in 2014. Niagara College’s Enactus program focused on working with a community of student, academic and business advisors to create developmental projects for smaller businesses throughout the Niagara region. In my year as Vice President, I worked hard to restructure a program that had been ignored and undervalued. Within a year we had won the honor of being the Most Improved Enactus Team nationwide.

After my 3 years in the School of Business I wanted to further my education and hone in on my communication skills. So, I decided to take on Niagara College’s Public Relations Post Grad, which was at the School of Media and Technology. This meant a new campus and a new territory; and with this came new connections, new extra-curriculars and new experiences. Through this program and my extracurricular experience I was one of 12 students chosen to participate in the Public Relations Society- Hamilton Chapter 2015/2016 mentorship program. The mentorship program focused on building relationships with industry members, developing communication skills and networking with future connections.

And last, but certainly not least, I took part in The Great Canadian Sales Competition, Canada’s Biggest Student Competition, as Niagara College’s Team Lead/Ambassador. In the Competition’s second year (and first year at Niagara College), our team encouraged 72 students to participate on our campus putting us at 360% to our team target. The GCSC helped me develop sales and entrepreneurial skills that I wasn’t necessarily learning in school. And the GCSC provided me with measurable and attainable targets that helped set me apart in the job market once I was finished school.

Through all of these extra-curriculars I became committed, connected and driven. But most of all I became job ready. I encourage all students to get involved in extra-curriculars at their college or university in any way that they can. My extra-curricular’s gave me an accolade to put on my resume, relevant experience and amazing networking opportunities. Lastly, my extra-curricular involvement allowed me to develop skill sets that made me job ready. And for all students, extra-curriculars will provide you with the same.  

I couldn’t be more excited to be hired on as the Competition Coordinator/Regional Manager for The Great Canadian Sales Competition, right out of school.  Not only do I understand competitions and how to get students involved, but I also understand how extra-curriculars can be a huge benefit to students. I encourage any student that is reading this to get involved and to get involved now.

Please feel free to contact me at katherine.perrin@salestalentagency.com to discuss how you can get involved on campus with the Great Canadian Sales Competition!