The success series – the rise of ‰’the graduate’

Increase in graduates going into IT sales

In 2016 and during Q1 2017 the Robertson Sumner team have found a vast increase in the number of graduates filling entry level sales positions within our 4 key market sectors; vendor, distribution, managed service providers (MSP) and resellers. This method has been particularly prevalent within the reseller market as companies look for alternative options as they struggle to recruit candidates with previous reseller experience and/ or contacts.

This has been backed up and supported by research from a High Fliers’ (2016) report which shows that graduate vacancies within the IT & telecommunications space have increased the most out of any sector over the last 10 years (see below). This trend is also predicted to continue in 2017, therefore: could a graduate be a good fit within your team? And, as a graduate, how can you be noticed in the current job market?


Why the demand for graduates is on the up

As a specialist IT sales recruitment consultancy, focusing on everything from Sales Support up to Sales Director positions, one of the first questions our consultants will ask when profiling a new role is what key experience does the candidate need to be successful in the role? However this approach needs to be re-thought in 2017, especially for more entry level hires, and broken down into 3 key areas; skill (ability/ experience), will (work ethic) and cultural fit.

If companies and recruitment agencies take this approach, as many have over recent years, then it vastly opens up the ‰’talent pool’, opening the door to graduates looking to forge a career in IT sales.

The logic behind companies deciding to go down the graduate route is due to the following reasons:

Graduates are cost effective with a huge amount of potential to grow and develop their career and become a long-term asset to the business. This also works in the candidates favour as well, with OTE’s up to £35,000 and graduates used to living within a very limited budget whilst at university, they will have the drive to pick up the phone and make money!

Also as graduates are still in ‰’learning mode’ post university, they are in a good position to soak up any product or skills training they are given quicker than the average employee. Therefore as long as you feel that they have the drive to succeed and will be a good cultural fit within your business then the skill aspect is arguably the easiest of the three to develop/ train!

How to stand out as a graduate candidate

Experiences – before getting yourself to the hiring table your CV will have to stand out as sales positions are becoming more and more competitive due to high demand. Therefore, as you can’t highlight too much relevant employment experience, ensure that you outline your key relevant achievements and interests outside of education/ work. This could be that you were captain of your school sports team, headed up a society at university or anything that demonstrates the skills needed to be successful in sales.

Personality – one of the biggest advantages of sales is that personality, work ethic and drive gets you a long way so make sure that you get that across to any recruiter or potential employer. You will need to emphasise that you are confident, presentable and resilient; therefore always ensure that you’re suited and booted and can demonstrate any examples of where you’ve been rejected and still persevered forward (preferably not an interview!).

Preparation – finally in any interview scenario preparation is often what decides whether a candidate is successful or not, especially when you don’t have much experience to fall back on. Therefore always ensure that you are prepared as possible and that you have a few bespoke, thought provoking questions to ask the interviewer and of course… always close off the interview! This can be as simple as do you have any reservations at all about me being successful in the role?


In 2017, Robertson Sumner can only see the trend of graduates getting into IT sales continuing to grow but we’d always recommend ensuring that you have a mixture of graduates as well as experienced members of the team (these could be graduates 3 or 4 years down the line). This will not only mean that you aren’t too top or bottom heavy but it will also give the graduates coming into the business something to aspire to.

If you’re looking to bolster your sales team or just discuss setting up a new graduate scheme within your business then we would love to help!

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