Needless to say, we are living in interesting times in the printing industry. As an industry veteran, I can remember whining with my fellow sales reps about our company’s pricing and the tough competition in the marketplace.
- “Our prices are too high.”
- “There is no way ABC Printing can do it for that price.”
- “If we only had a web.”
- “If we only had an eight-color press with a coater.”
That was in the ’80s, ’90s and into the early 2000s. Little did we know that we were actually selling in the “glory years.” Today, I’m certain many printing reps speak the same language; however, now their gripes are truly legitimate!
After experiencing life as a sales rep, a sales manager and a president, I am now recruiting in the printing industry. To be honest, the saddest part of my job is working with the so-called “old school” sales reps. They contact me in hopes of finding a job similar to what they have done in the past. I have to inform them that they will never find it.
To compound the issue, most of my clients are only looking for “young” candidates. One client, in particular, will not even look at any candidates over 42 years old! As an “experienced” professional myself, I find this very disheartening. I know many very talented people who are not even given the chance.
There is still hope for us. Here are a few suggestions:• Refrain from using the words “seasoned” and “30 years experience.”
In the past, those words were music to the hiring manager’s ears. Not anymore. I know some would disagree with me, but I just don’t like the term “seasoned.” I picture an older person worn out from the battles of the day-to-day business.
Instead, blend your experience into your resume as a positive. Also, you do not have to go back through all your jobs since you were 18; detailing the last 10 to 15 years of your career will suffice. Remember, you want to get a personal interview. Let the hiring manager guess your age.• Stay current with technology and be able to confidently speak the language.
You don’t have to be an expert, but it’s very easy to read industry related publications. Also, build a relationship with someone on the IT side of the business. I find most of these so-called geeks are very willing to share their knowledge and ideas with you.• Take pride in your appearance.
This is very important, particularly for the first interview: You may not look like you did in your younger days, but if you take care of yourself physically, this attitude will likely carry over into your work. Keep yourself mentally young...we can even learn from our kids!• Take inventory of yourself.
What have you gained from your experience? If you don’t have a “book of business,” what do you have to offer a company? Be well prepared to answer that question. Always be building relationships with clients or prospective clients. You never know how they may help you down the road.
The bottom line is, you must remain positive and optimistic.
For some of us, it will require a complete reinvention of oneself. Make this challenge fun and it will pay off...I promise!