Careers Service Occupations

Buying & Selling

Buying and Selling

About

A quarter of employers are recruiting for graduate sales positions according to High Fliers, The Graduate Market in 2016.

Careers advice

Guardian Careers has lots of articles with careers advice on getting into this sector, including:

Industry news

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow associations on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector are the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) and Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM).

Making contacts

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field come through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our buying and selling twitter lists.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and other events provide insight and opportunities to make useful contacts.

For events for this sector see our Careers Service events and External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Retail or Logistics and Supply Management or see our other occupational pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Buying

Retail buyer

Fashion buyer

Industrial buyer

Procurement executive

Purchasing manager

Selling

Sales executive

Sales manager

Sales representative

Medical sales representative

Skills employers look for

  • negotiation skills
  • commercial awareness & customer focus
  • communication skills
  • ability to work under pressure
  • flexible and adaptable approach to work
  • positivity and confidence

See also TARGETjobs: The skills you need to get a graduate job in buying, by buyers

Gaining Experience

Getting into buying and selling can be competitive. Work experience is invaluable in developing relevant skills and demonstrating your commitment to recruiters.

Prospects has information on how to get into buying and merchandising, what's available and how to get it.

Customer service experience is particularly important in sales. A part-time job in retail, sales or a contact centre is a great way to discover whether it's right for you. To search for part-time jobs, see Vacancies Online  and finding a part-time job.

Voluntary work as a fundraiser would also be helpful for a career in sales.

For advice on getting work experience in medical sales see Get shadowing experience as a drug sales representative (PharmiWeb.com)

Internships

Formal internships and placements are commonly offered by large companies such as major supermarkets and high-street chains.

See Internships, placements and shadowing for additional ways to find work experience.

Specialist recruitment agencies

  • Retail Human Resources 
  • Talisman - recruitment consultancy specialising in fashion and lifestyle retail vacancies
  • Pareto Law - specialist recruitment agency, which advertises nationwide graduate sales positions
  • BMS Graduate - specialist sales recruitment agency

Finding companies

Find companies that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlighting any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Finding Jobs

Competition is strong, especially for entry-level positions. Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and research employers for speculative applications.

Vacancy sites

For specific sectors see Drapers Jobs (fashion) and Grocer Jobs (fast-moving consumer goods).

Graduate schemes & entry level jobs

See Graduate jobs for more vacancy sources.

Specialist recruitment agencies

Finding companies

Find companies that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlighting any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.