Go to Menu The Target, The Target, The Target
By Nick Corcodilos

Jeff Shuster worked for the Office of Telecommunications and Information Services of the State of New Jersey. His job was to recommend and purchase computer products for governmental agencies. It didn't take long before he realized he belonged on the other side of the negotiating table -- selling to the State.

Shuster considered the job security he had, and it was significant. He was only 24 years old and he could retire working for the State if he wanted to. Any career change would have to net him more than the State could ever offer in the long term. He was willing to take a risk, but it had to be a smart risk. Shuster knew his expertise with government would make him attractive to any of a number of government vendors. But he had only one target: the best vendor the State dealt with.

Clancy-Paul, Inc. was a $30 million computer reseller, small by most accounts. But it was the most respected, resourceful and successful of the computer vendors on the New Jersey State Contract. The people who worked at Clancy-Paul were dedicated, a little crazy in their enthusiasm for the business, and they functioned like a tight-knit family. The company clearly had a future. That was where Shuster decided he was going to work, come hell or high water.

It took just a couple of phone calls, and Jeff was in touch with the manager he wanted to work for. Several people at Clancy-Paul knew him because they worked with him on the Contract. But Shuster had no sales experience. "We like you, but you're not a sales guy," the manager told him.

Three months went by. Shuster called again. "Got a job for me yet? You'll love me if you hire me."

The company brought him in again to interview for a job in corporate sales. "Well, we still like you, but we've got another candidate who actually has sales experience. Good luck in your job hunt," they told him.

"Thanks, but I'll wait," said Shuster. "I'm coming to work for you. Maybe next month, maybe in six months. Talk to you again soon."

Jeff Shuster's persistence aroused admiration among the government sales team. "It's Shuster on the phone. He wants to know, are we ready to hire him?"

The entire government team knew him now. They liked Shuster's ethics, his attitude and his motivation. Bottom line: he had become part of the Clancy-Paul family while still maintaining his professional distance. He had devoted a lot of time to learning the company's business. He had a list of references like no other job candidate, and those references were all employees at Clancy-Paul. Shuster had made himself an insider.

Over a year went by. Then the call came. "We've got a slot, Jeff. And it's in the government sales division. Still want to talk with us?"

So Shuster went through the round of interviews once again. The problem was, this wasn't his dream job. It wasn't sales. The only job they had for him was in sales support, processing orders and handling customer relations. This was ground level. For this he'd give up a good career track at the State?

"It's the right company," Shuster told his buddies at the State. "I'm on target. The first step leads to the second step."

Jeff Shuster proved himself quickly and moved into sales. The persistence and enthusiasm that helped him land a job with his target company served him well in sales. In a few short years, he was the top sales rep on the government team. His relationships with his customers were outstanding. In the meantime, Clancy-Paul was sold; then that company merged with another. Jeff moved into corporate sales. In five years he achieved his goal: he was a respected expert. He had met and vaulted every hurdle he encountered working for a reseller.

Today Jeff Shuster is a Major Account Manager at Dell Computer Corporation. His government job is far behind him. But throughout Jeff's career, there's a clear pattern. Up close, it looks like a bunch of friendships and an interest in computers and sales. Step back a little, and it all becomes very clear. All of his relationships and interests look curiously like the target he took aim at a long time ago. The people he worked with at the State are still his customers. His friends from Clancy-Paul are still his friends; some of them continue to play a role in his work. And I was one of the managers of the sales team Jeff originally joined at Clancy-Paul.

Small world? No, just people with common interests who continue to pursue them. Such people inevitably run into one another again and again, for all the best reasons.

All of us pick our targets. Some people lose sight of what's important to them, and they keep missing their mark. Jeff Shuster honed his aim so carefully that it seems the target came to him.

Plan ahead to beat the experienced competition!

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This 36-page Answer Kit shows you how to use The Library Vacation to do powerful research to identify your choices. You'll learn why A Good Network is a Circle of Friends—and how to make and use new contacts to help you get in the door.

Choose your target companies, then Put a Free Sample in Your Resume to show the employer how you'll be a valuable contributor to its profitability.

All these tools are included in How Can I Change Careers?

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