Written by Kevin Leonor- Contributor for CS Insider
It's never easy applying for your first Customer Success job. In my last article, I showed how to translate your past experience.
Let‘s now focus on what can help you further stand out as a job candidate - having domain experience.
Domain experience is knowledge in a specialized field and the ability to speak an industry’s language. This could be expertise in retail, education, hospitality, accounting, etc. If the domain exists, there's a software company in need of Customer Success professionals.
While domain experience is not required, it can help distinguish you from other candidates. This is why I often recommend targeting roles within your domain.
Here are some things to do and avoid when targeting a CS role within your domain.
Stop using generic, one size fits all, resumes when applying for CS jobs. It was built to become the professional you used to be instead of being the CSM you want to be.
Prior to becoming a Customer Success expert, I was a tech sales expert. This helped show that I had SaaS experience. However, I noticed that hiring managers asked me the same two questions during interviews:
These were legitimate questions because they were worried I might not be a long-term fit for Customer Success. I focused too much on my past experience working in my profession and not enough on how these skills relate to a role in CS. In turn,
It forced decision-makers to weigh my candidacy against those who exhibited a passion for Customer Success.
Hiring managers prefer to hire candidates that can relate to and think like their users.
For example, someone with a teaching background understands what motivates teachers, teaching admins, and students. They can speak to their needs, frustrations, and desires.
Using your past experiences, demonstrate how you can:
You should have a leg up here thanks to your domain experience.
As a result of your past experience, you are likely familiar with the technical terms used by professionals in your field.
Although it’s valuable to be able to speak the customer's language, don’t go overboard. You might come across as knowledgeable but not ready for a Customer Success role.
Rather than overload the interviewer or hiring manager with jargon, demonstrate your ability to translate the technical to simple.
For example, say you're interviewing for a technical role, I would find you a more compelling candidate if you explained your process of translating technical terminology in terms anyone could understand, rather than just how great you are at speaking the language.
The ability to do both well is even better.
Your company doesn’t expect you to be a product or domain expert, even with your past experience.
However, don't fall victim to overexaggerating your expertise.
Three reasons this will backfire on you:
Having knowledge of the company’s software you’re applying for is a valuable differentiator. It shows that you will need minimal ramp-up time. This is why it is trendy for some companies to promote from within their support team.
If you’ve been an end-user of their product already, kudos to you! This part should come easy.
Come to the interview prepared to:
I wanted to make the transition from a CSM role to a manager for a long time. But how did I get there? Through many mistakes, one thing stood out above all: I had to be a CSM to myself. To treat my career the same way I treated customers. Here’s what that looked like.
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