From work experience to graduate schemes, there are a number of ways to break into the sales sector

For many graduate sales roles personality can be more important than specific qualifications. In most cases employers will consider graduates with any degree subject, although some will require a minimum of a 2:1.

However, some specialised positions which involve selling engineering, IT or medical equipment may require a related technical degree. For an IT sales role a business or computer science degree may be preferred, otherwise you will have to demonstrate your interest in IT and your commercial awareness. For some medical sales positions you will need a scientific degree.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.

What skills do employers want?

Recruiters in the sales sector require candidates with:

  • effective communication skills;
  • good customer service skills;
  • confidence and resilience;
  • ambition and drive (to meet targets);
  • networking and relationship building skills;
  • the ability to work in a team.

Where can I get work experience?

Any work experience which allows you to develop your customer service and people skills, such as in retail, hospitality or telesales will be valued by employers in the sales sector. These positions are readily available on a part-time basis, such as retail sales assistant jobs.

Some larger companies, such as Microsoft, Nestlé, Nissan and Unilever offer summer placements or one year industrial internships in sales or customer management. Other companies offer sales, marketing or general management internships that can provide a fast-track to graduate sales positions for successful applicants.

To find work placements and internships in the sales sector, search for work experience.

How do I find a graduate job in sales?

A quarter of employers are looking for graduates to work in sales, according to High Fliers, The Graduate Market in 2015.

Large companies across a variety of industries offer graduate schemes in sales, such as Microsoft, Softcat and Nestlé. Other companies offer sales, marketing or general schemes where you could opt for sales positions or rotate between departments. You should check employer websites early in the student year for details of how to make an online application.

You can find graduate positions in sales through specialist recruitment agencies or job sites. For example, if you're searching for a medical sales position then head to CHASE.

For smaller companies you should make speculative enquiries using a CV and cover letter.

To find jobs and graduate schemes in the sector, search graduate jobs in sales.