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  • Susanna Williams

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Updated: Dec 20, 2019


A quickly-growing food manufacturer posted this job recently:

Job Responsibilities:

  • Drive the development of conventional grocery sales in the Western Region

  • Develop, manage and support a broker network, including setting standards and performing reviews

  • Maintain key customer relationships

  • Keep continual awareness of the competitive environment

  • Plan, budget and forecast sales and expenses in the grocery channel

  • Support overall sales process, setting appropriate metrics fir sales management and developing pricing policies as needed

  • Maintain and expand customer base by building and maintaining rapport with key distributors and customers; identify new customer opportunities

  • Meet financial objectives through forecasting requirements; prepare an annual budget; schedule expenditures; analyze variances; initiate corrective actions

  • Maintain customer service standards; assist sales team in resolving customer and distributor problems; identify trends; determine areas for improvements and implement improvements

Job Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) preferred

  • Must have demonstrated experience calling on grocery accounts in the Western Region. Safeway experience preferred.

  • Must be a self-starter, have an entrepreneurial mindset, and be able to work in an autonomous environment

  • Must have prior broker management experience

  • Proven success building our grocery channel business within the beverage/food industry

  • Candidates must be based in the Western Region of the U.S.

  • At least five years of grocery sales and account management experience in the food industry (dairy/frozen experience a strong preference)

  • Established contacts and relationships with potential customers and channel partners a strong preference

  • History of calling on major retailers and distributors in the grocery channel

  • Ability to plan and manage at both the strategic and operational levels

  • Be able to attend trade shows and events as necessary

  • A working knowledge of third party data, i.e. Nielsen, SPINS, etc.

  • Proven sales track record in a new product/new market environment

  • Excellent skills in the following areas: listening, presentation, negotiation, analysis, customer service, selling, communication, and organization

  • Proficient in MS Office, Excel, Nielsen, etc.

Compensation commensurate with experience plus health benefits, paid time off, and a 401(k) plan with company match.

Please e-mail your résumé with cover letter

***********************************************************************************************************************

Hold on... I need to catch my breath... whew!

This job posting is asking for the sun, the moon, the stars, AND a four-year college degree.

Let's take a look at the job responsibilities first. There are really two buckets of work here with supporting activities:

  • Drive the development of conventional grocery sales in the Western Region

  1. Develop, manage and support a broker network, including setting standards and performing reviews

  2. Maintain key customer relationships

  3. Keep continual awareness of the competitive environment

  4. Maintain and expand customer base by building and maintaining rapport with key distributors and customers; identify new customer opportunities

  5. Maintain customer service standards; assist sales team in resolving customer and distributor problems; identify trends; determine areas for improvements and implement improvements

  • Plan, budget and forecast sales and expenses in the grocery channel

  1. Support overall sales process, setting appropriate metrics for sales management and developing pricing policies as needed

  2. Meet financial objectives through forecasting requirements; prepare an annual budget; schedule expenditures; analyze variances; initiate corrective actions

In order to this job effectively, it would seem like people skills are a top priority. You need to demonstrate evidence of capability in customer service, persuasion, communication, and conflict resolution.

It would also seem that being able to do financial forecasting, budgeting, analysis, and knowledge of the sales process are important.

Simple enough. It just needs to be organized more effectively.

But that takes us to the job requirements. And that is where this job posting goes off the rails.

  • Bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) preferred

I don't know what to do with this degree requirement. It is always listed first. And there is never a clear rationale for its inclusion. Ignore.


And then we have about seven different ways of stating the same exact desired experience:

  • Must have demonstrated experience calling on grocery accounts in the Western Region. Safeway experience preferred.

  • Must have prior broker management experience

  • Proven success building our grocery channel business within the beverage/food industry

  • At least five years of grocery sales and account management experience in the food industry (dairy/frozen experience a strong preference)

  • Established contacts and relationships with potential customers and channel partners a strong preference

  • History of calling on major retailers and distributors in the grocery channel

  • Proven sales track record in a new product/new market environment

For each of these requirements, ask "Why?". What makes that experiential point unique? Is there any aligned experience that could transfer? When you list this many "must" points, it is all too easy to eliminate candidates based on a checklist.

  • Must be a self-starter, have an entrepreneurial mindset, and be able to work in an autonomous environment

  • Excellent skills in the following areas: listening, presentation, negotiation, analysis, customer service, selling, communication, and organization

  • Ability to plan and manage at both the strategic and operational levels

This is the most important part of the job posting, in my opinion. If you asked for nothing else but evidence of these skills, you would get a pretty remarkable candidate pool.

  • Candidates must be based in the Western Region of the U.S.

  • Be able to attend trade shows and events as necessary

Useful specificity in these remote working times.


  • A working knowledge of third party data, i.e. Nielsen, SPINS, etc.

  • Proficient in MS Office, Excel, Nielsen, etc.

The "etc." in these points is maddening. Asking for proficiency in software specific (and also unspecified) software is outdated at this point. What you really want to know is whether someone has basic business skills and can learn new software.

Compensation commensurate with experience plus health benefits, paid time off, and a 401(k) plan with company match.

Oh for the days of a stated salary range...

Please e-mail your résumé with cover letter

No. Just... no.

Better might be "Submit a video of yourself pitching our product to a prospective customer."

Or try a different tool.

But a résumé & cover letter will not convey the information you're looking for in order to make a good decision here. And it is time that employers got wise to that.


#HireBetter #hiring #skillsbased

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