I Don't Want to be Willy Loman!
June 17, 2008 12:41 AM   Subscribe

I don't want to be a salesman! Can anyone help a recent grad find a sane, non-sales job in Philadelphia?

Okay, I recently graduated from Temple University. I've been throwing my résumé out like wildfire, trying to find a job in Philadelphia (not outside of the city. I do not drive.).

I figure I have two problems at the moment:
1. I have a BA in English, not exactly useful.
2. I have spent the last three and a half years in a tele-sales position at a local theatre.

So, my résumé says, in the interest of honesty, that I have been doing sales and fundraising. Therefore, all of the responses, and most of the jobs suggested involve sales. Some of the jobs seem extremely shady, too. (I got a call from a Payday loan company, for example. WTF?!) Selling insurance, window blinds, gym memberships, and financial advice are things I really do not want to do.

I'd really like an office-monkey job. Administrative assistant, perhaps. I could do something that requires writing, or research. I even took a Technical Writing class, and aced it! Data entry? I can type up a storm! If I have to be on the phone, I wouldn't mind doing customer support. That's okay by me. I just don't want sales!

What can I do?

(If you're curious, my resume is at http://richardanderson.emurse.com, and if you think I should change something to de-emphasize my sales time, let me know.)
posted by SansPoint to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can put an "objective" at the top of your resume that indicates the kind of work you'd be doing. What are you putting on the cover lever that you're sending along with it (assuming this applies) ?

Also, capitalize "some" in "some PHP"
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:05 AM on June 17, 2008

I have a couple of thoughts for you. First, not all sales jobs are created equal. Many B2B and industrial sales positions call for consultative selling, which can actually be both creatively satisfying, and remunerative. Unlike the types of retail products sales jobs you think you don't want, B2B and industrial sales positions demand ethical behavior and professionalism from successful sales people, simply because the business relationships the sales professional manages are long term, and generally involve repeat sales over many years. For an English major looking for an entry level job in the business world, you could do much, much worse than finding a position as an industrial sales representative, if for no other reason than for the business training and experience such jobs offer. You needn't even be directly in the front line sales position, and as you don't drive, you may find that allied jobs in sales support, such as pre-sales, sales support and administration (sometimes called "inside sales" because it is generally office based, servicing existing customers, as opposed to "outside sales" activities performed by traveling sales people), Customer Relationship Management, or post-sales training may be more suitable.

A second point might be to develop an alternate version of your resume, which is skills based, to use in your "career change." Because, based on your limited work history, and interest in finding work as a technical writer, or administrative assitant, you're really looking for a "career change."
posted by paulsc at 2:59 AM on June 17, 2008

Based on the wording of your post ("all of the responses" and "got a call from" specifically), I am curious to hear what methods you're using for finding a job? Because this sounds like a kinda passive job search, from what I'm reading, when if you want to make career change, you have to be the one doing the pushing.

Things you should be doing if you're not:
- using your university's connections: alumni in the area (especially those senior enough to need assistants); career fairs and other job postings through the career center, etc. Often, you don't have to be in-town to make use of these services - databases are online, resume consulting can be done by phone.
- using the connections of your connections: who do your parents know? Are any of your friends' companies hiring?
- if you're really interested in getting into office/administrative roles, have you tried a temp agency yet? (There's lots of threads on that in ask.me already. I can tell from reading them that there's a lot of office work, a lot of temp-to-hire, but you have to be pro-active about it, again.)

Also wanting to second what paulsc said about the good money to be made in B2B sales. You learn some obscure technologies, services, or catalogs really well and you can go a long way. It's not uncommon to find engineers who leave engineering for these sales positions because the money is really good. So if it's the menialness(?) you're trying to escape from, this could do it, while maintaining the challenge and inter-personal work that sales brings.
posted by whatzit at 3:50 AM on June 17, 2008

You say "my résumé says, in the interest of honesty, that I have been doing sales and fundraising" and that you don't want to be a salesman. Do you want to be a fundraiser? There are a lot of non-profits in Philly and the ability to write and some experience in fundraising are all it usually takes to get an entry-level position in the field.

The good part about working for a non-profit is that you get to work with smart people who are truly committed to what they are doing and you usually get a lot of responsibility very quickly as all non-profit are understaffed. The bad part is that the pay is, for the most part, shite. If you are interested in that, you should probably tweak your resume to play up the fund-raising aspects of your work for the theatre. You should also call your supervisor at the theatre and ask him or her if they know of any np groups with openings in thier development department. You could also check out idealist for development jobs in Philly.

(disclosure, I work as a consultant to non-profits)
posted by qldaddy at 5:50 AM on June 17, 2008

Non-profit admin. You should be able to land an assistant job easy. Look in particular for communications, marketing, development.
posted by desuetude at 6:49 AM on June 17, 2008

Check out the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance's Job Bank. All of the cultural organizations list their jobs there and you should be able to find something where your theatre experience will be useful. Organizations are always looking for capable fundraisers, and the pay is generally higher than for program positions.
posted by jrichards at 7:33 AM on June 17, 2008

Get your typing skills on record at all your local temp agencies. If you can type up a storm, you should be able to get some temp assignments. Temp assignments give you a chance to check out local companies and network, and it's not at all unusual for them to turn into permanent gigs. They also let you build your resume with more of the kinds of skills you want to use.
posted by kristi at 11:13 AM on June 17, 2008

Late to the party as usual, but with your background I think you should consider academia or publishing, or even better, academic publishing. Elsevier Science has editorial offices in Philadelphia - checking their site for entry level editing jobs might not be a bad idea. They're a huge international publishing house with a great reputation (and they have offices in cool places to get transferred to, like Amsterdam and San Diego, so bonus). That seems pretty perfect for you.

There are other publishing houses there as well. Look into those. And check the local university websites for job postings. If you're going to be an entry level administrator, I definitely recommend starting somewhere like a university where you'll almost certainly have great benefits, great retirement plans, great holidays, regular cost-of-living pay increases, and plenty of room for advancement.

Good luck!
posted by ultraultraboomerang at 3:38 PM on June 17, 2008

I agree with ultraultraboomerang - look into educational publishing jobs. They are the haven for English grads. You can actually build a great career starting as an Editorial Assistant.
posted by calitocarolina at 9:15 AM on June 19, 2008

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