Working in Sales and Business Development

This is a guest post writing by Inspiring Interns.

Quick fire quiz! Do you know the difference between sales and business development? The two share similarities, but ultimately they are two separate careers with their own perks and potential. Read on to find out what each has to offer and whether it’s right for you.


With starting salaries anywhere between £18k and £24k + commission, a job in this field gives ambitious graduates an opportunity to learn big and earn big. The abbreviation ‘OTE’ on job specifications highlights how much you can expect to earn if your sales are on target or exceed them. You will need to have confidence, charisma and communication skills to succeed in a sales role and it can be a good place to start your career. The transferable and business skills you can learn and the networking opportunities that form an integral part of selling could open doors for future employment in a variety of areas. Starting a career in sales will connect you with different people and you could find yourself specialising in marketing, account management, business development, events or promotions to name a few. Skills such as presenting and being able to work to a deadline and under pressure are great strings to add to your bow.

Business development

Similar to sales, internships and graduate jobs in “biz dev” are after people full of personality who are able to create partnerships and meaningful business relationships that they can maintain to secure further future business opportunities.

If you think a career in consulting or strategy might be for you, biz dev is a strong place to start. It also sits firmly on the line between sales and marketing, so executive or management positions in one of these industries could also be on the cards. Biz dev is concerned with acquiring new customers and selling these (and returning) customers a ‘product’. It focuses on market expansion, brand placement and industry awareness – all of which are primary concerns in the world of marketing. If you possess entrepreneurial spirit and are keen to get hands-on experience developing and growing a business, biz dev is an ideal choice. You could be in a start-up in Shoreditch’s Tech City or you could be working within a bigger corporation and learning from some key figures in the industry. If you’ve got fresh ideas and a willingness to learn and really get stuck in, there are lots of possibilities out there.

Take it further

Experience taking on roles in sales and biz dev will potentially open up doors to host of industries, offering a multitude of possible career paths. If you’re particularly passionate about a certain industry or role, it’s likely to have a sales and/or biz dev area that you could branch out into. Don’t stop here, make sure you do your research about the availability and requirements for positions and check out Inspiring Interns if you’re keen to be matched to relevant opportunities. Pioneers of the video CV, Inspiring Interns can help you inject a bit of personality into the process.

Do your research

Doing your research on the industry you’re applying to is a great way to impress potential employers so make sure you know your stuff! Find out more about the difference between sales and biz dev careers and find a wealth of information on careers in every sector including what you should be reading, the companies you should be looking at and how to apply via the National Careers Service. Employers will be looking for you to put your research and knowledge into practice in an interview situation, so make sure you read around the subject.

Why do you want to work for us? Tips for researching employers and industry sectors

To be successful with applications, interviews and assessment centres you’ll need to have well-informed answers to questions like:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What are some of the issues facing this sector?
  • What do you know about our competitors?
  • Tell me about a recent business news story you found interesting and why?

Successful answers to these questions go beyond repeating (however elegantly!) what organisations say about themselves on their websites. Getting along to employer attended events on and off campus is a very good way of getting original input to your answers. Find out what’s coming up at

However, it’s not always possible to meet an employer in person, so here are  some examples of other useful sources and how they can help.

  1. Ratings and awards listings e.g. ‘Best Companies’, and

Best Companies produces lists every year of the UKs top 100 companies to work for and produces separate lists for the top 100 large, mid and small companies.

The really useful thing about these ratings is that the overall score is broken down into a number of different areas. Take this example of Intercontinental Hotel Group:

“As well as moving across countries, staff can transfer from hotel operations to a corporate role thanks to a national academy programme. Employees feel that the experience they gain at work will be valuable for their future (73%) and say their jobs are good for personal growth (74%)…77% (are) proud to work for the organisation.”

Referring to the kind of specific information above can give your answer a lot more impact than a general statement, such as “I would like to work for such an international and well-reputed organisation”.

Remember too that these listing include smaller companies. For example, applicants to MindCandy, a growing business in the online gaming sector could refer to the fact that Best Companies reports “Staff are excited about where the firm is going (93%)”.

Ratemyplacement can be used in a similar way for placements and internships. For example, reading reviews from interns at John Lewis Partnership could draw your attention to the need for adaptability and flexibility in the role and allow you to refer to and address this in your application or interview.

2. Industry overview websites

A useful one for the finance industry is You’ll come across information specific to companies and also articles on trends and sector developments for example ‘Big Banks Unlikely To Pursue Large Merger Options In Next 18 Months

  1. Strategic Consultancies – Useful for applicants to all sectors!

Thought leadership is one of the aims of the strategic consultancies and you can access industry reports. For example,  Booz and Co ( has sector reports on retail, automotive, finance, consumer goods and many more as well as wider reports such as ‘How new ideas and practices taking shape in China will change global approaches to innovation’.

Also take a look at Bain & Company – for a wide range of insights, including ‘The future of shopping’.

4. Industry magazines – online and press

There’s a vast range of titles, but one to add to your list is which has insights on developments in many sectors, so is useful for applicants to many organisations and not just those with a marketing focus.

To get help with finding trade press for your sector, take a look at

Working in TV

Have you spent a lot of time during your degree watching TV and shouting your opinions at the screen? If you really love TV, have lots of ideas and thrive in a busy, buzzing work environment, a career in the TV industry might be worth thinking about.

The bad news: Careers in TV require perseverance and, often, a lot of hard work and long hours without high levels of pay. The job is unlikely to be very glamorous at first (or ever) – you might find yourself making a lot of tea when you start out. It can be unstable too, with short-term and temporary contracts common.

If you’re still keen and TV is something you’re passionate about, here are some practical tips about getting into the industry:


Find out everything you can about different job roles and the companies/organisations who hire for these roles. Creative Skillset has job profiles and a list of key employers in TV to get you started in your research, as well as a really useful article about being a Runner (which is often the first paid position on the career ladder). Remember that there are a variety of job roles associated with TV; the more different options you’re willing to consider when you start looking for jobs, the more likely you will be to be able to find one. In this industry, it is usual to start at a junior level and progress.

Keep up to date with the trends in programming, and the kinds of programmes being made at the moment. Interviewers will want to know not just that you like TV, but what kind of TV you like, and what you think of the programmes made by their company or organisation. Get familiar with current issues within the sector too.

Get some work experience

Work experience is a must. It will help you get a sense of what it’s really like to work in TV and help you to make contacts, which will be invaluable as you progress in your career. This is a really popular area of work, so if it’s what you want to do, don’t be discouraged if it takes some time and perseverance to get a work experience placement.

The BBC and ITV have work experience schemes, and so does Channel 4 (although theirs will not give you experience in production, as Channel 4 does not make its own programmes). Lots of production companies also offer work experience – have a look at their websites. You will often need to be proactive and take the initiative to find work experience by getting in touch with employers, and sending speculative applications.

Further resources

Creative Skillset

Breaking into the TV industry, take one (The Guardian)

Emily Hogg
Applications Adviser
QM Careers & Enterprise Centre

Finance Industry Insight: what is interdealer broking?

Working in the careers centre, we get to find out about new areas of work and new job titles all the time. These come about because of the way industry has to respond to the rapidly changing world.  A friend of mine is a Social Media Monitoring Officer. These jobs didn’t exist a few years ago! Sometimes it can be hard to find out about what particular or specialist job involves, because there is so little information out there. One question we had recently was about interdealer broking. This is what we found out:

Interdealer broking is about bringing buyers and sellers together to execute a transaction.  In this field there are two kinds of broking: electronic broking and voice broking (human brokers).  With the electronic broking the most common deals are FX-transactions ? these are foreign exchange transactions.   It?s easy to buy and sell on the FX market.  For more complex products, you need a person to negotiate before an agreed transaction can be reached.  In these instances voice broking is used.  For example, if two banks were to trade with each other the interdealer voice broker would transact the bond based on instructions receive from the traders at each of the banks.

Due to the recent financial crises there is a lot of new legislation around transparency, which the industry will have to adapt to, as well as greater obligation to transact through electronic mediums.  Technology evolving rapidly also means that the broking industry has to constantly adapt.

More than stacking shelves and packing bags: How a career in retail might be the right fit for you

Throughout your degree you may have had a part time job and there’s a good chance that it was in retail. Scanning hundreds of items through a till each shift, folding endless piles of clothes and stacking shelves may not have filled you with the desire to consider a career in the industry; but retail is a sector with a variety of roles spanning finance, HR, IT and much more.

If you think about the range of products and services on offer in retail there’s no wonder there are such a wide variety of jobs available. Whether you’re passionate about design, numbers or people there’s something in retail to suit almost any graduate. Speaking of suits, many of us think that retail is mainly about fashion, but if that isn’t your thing then technology or something more obscure like camping might be. And aside from products there are opportunities to get experience in marketing, product design and web design, to name a few.

The Three Cs for a career in retail

These three areas are a great starting point for developing your knowledge of the sector, whether you have heaps of retail experience or none at all.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) – You’ll need to know what companies are doing besides making money. From sustainability and environmental awareness to improving the job prospects and living standards of the local community; how do they make sure their business has a positive impact on the wider society?

Commercial Awareness – An understanding of what retailers are doing to get ahead of the competition, the challenges they face and how they are embracing e-commerce will stand you in good stead.  What is the current climate for retailers? How are they impacted by developments in the wider economy?

Customer Service – Customer satisfaction is at the centre of every successful retail business and can cover a multitude of things, from how customers are greeted upon arrival to the number of days they have to return items. In applications and in interviews you may be asked questions such ‘What is good customer service?’ or ‘Give an example of when you have delivered good customer service’.

How do I find this information?

CSR and Commercial Awareness – Retailers are keen to show that they are doing their bit for society so their websites can be your first reference point. But, bear in mind that almost all candidates will be looking here too so it’s worth doing some wider reading. Keeping up to date with news, seeking out stories which affect the sector and reading the FT can also help to give you a greater knowledge base.

Customer Service – If you’ve worked in retail make a list of all the procedures which were in place to deliver great customer service: it’s likely that there will be many aspects which overlap with a potential employer’s. Visiting shops and having a browse of websites will give you an idea of what services the retailer provides in order to deliver high standards of customer satisfaction.

Alannah Francis
Careers Administrative Assistant
QM Careers and Enterprise Centre

The jobs they don’t tell you about…

Ever wondered what is takes to be a Rocket Scientist? Or just think Librarians sit around shushing you and shelving books? The Guardian Career’s Behind the job title series offers insight into careers which are less spoken about.

How can Behind the job title help me?

The series offers insights into non-traditional and traditional jobs through interviews with those who work in a particular role. The page offers interesting articles which bust myths and ideas about particular industries. The interviews are what I found most useful. Interviewees talk about how they got into their current jobs and what their job role consists of. This could help you decide whether you might want to go into a particular sector.

What jobs have been covered in the series?

  • Cyber Security Consultant
  • Humanitarian Aid Worker
  • Market Analyst
  • Fashion Designer Assistant
  • Software Engineer

And those are just a few careers that have been covered so far…

Behind the job title offers a realistic, candid insight into job titles by telling you about the perks of the jobs and also the cons such as long hours and no weekends.

To see what other possible careers path you could possible take head over to the Guardian Careers’ Behind the job title page now! Or if you have found a career path which has interested you come and have a chat with one our Careers Consultants to get more information.

Tobi Ijitoye
3rd year International Relations Student
and QM Careers Centre Vacancy Researcher