Sales Manager’s Military Background Helps Secures New Job

Colorado salesman Jonathan Stanley leveraged his military experience to land a sales position in a new industry.


There’s nothing like a layoff to get a person re-energized about his work. That’s the philosophy of Jonathan Stanley, who claims his layoff six months ago was the best thing that could have happened to him.

Stanley was laid off on June 30 from his job as a sales manager at a software and IT services provider in Boulder, Colo. He spent 11 years at the company and worked his way up from national account sales, but the company was acquired in 2007 and “made some bad choices in a bad economy,” which forced it to make layoffs, Stanley said.

But he moved on fast. Stanley was out looking for a job the very next day. He was aggressive in his tactics but rather cautious in his strategy.

“I wanted to be selective in what I applied for,” he said. “I didn’t carpet -bomb the job market. I didn’t apply to anything and everything that sold something. I stayed focused on companies that I knew I could bring value to.”

He wanted to stay in sales, and he wanted to find an industry that could rely on his software and IT services background and his military service. He also sought an industry that would weather economic downturns and a company that was performing well. He did his homework and found all three in a company in Lakewood, Colo., outside Denver.

“I used Ladders not only to look for sales jobs but to understand what types of companies were hiring,” he continued. “I was looking for an industry that could be profitable, so when I read a job listing I was interested in, I would check the company’s profit statements and check the business wires to learn about any major changes at the company. I saw about a half-dozen companies that had been acquired. I was trying to avoid that situation again.”

Selling services vs. products

Stanley distributed about 200 resumes altogether but only received three responses that he considered. In early fall, he received a job alert on SalesLadder for a sales position at AlliedBarton Security Services, a contract security personnel provider. I t seemed foreign to his experience at a software company, but he came to realize it was well within his expertise.

“With this type of job, you’re selling services, you’re selling people,” Stanley said. “And I knew that I could draw on not only the services side of what I sold for past 11 years, but also draw on my former military experience for credibility; buyers are former police and military people, themselves. They feel comfortable with other military people.”

AlliedBarton saw the value in Stanley, too. He sent his resume on Oct. 8, and the head of corporate recruiting called him on Oct. 14. That night, he spent 30 minutes on the phone with the vice president of business development of the Northwest region. Two weeks later, he was at AlliedBarton’s office in Lakewood for a full day of interviews. He received an offer the following day and started work on Nov. 4.

“This is completely different from what I was doing before,” Stanley said. “There is no physical product; it’s 100 percent services ; that is the product. But because of my military experience, they were very comfortable with the idea of hiring me.”

Stanley was also comfortable with AlliedBarton, and their openness during the negotiation process. For so many sales positions, real compensation is in the commissions. When starting a new position, it’s often hard to gauge when those commissions will start coming in. “AlliedBarton had no problem with my talking to other employees in similar roles about how long it would take me to ramp up to make commissions that met my expectations,” he said. “Nothing was off limits; they were very honest with me about compensation questions. And everything so far has aligned with what I was told.”

Opportunities out there

Stanley said he has already started to meet his goals in the short month he has been in the job because, “I am truly excited about this job.”

He said the fact that he is working for the industry leader makes a big difference in how he communicates with potential clients. “I don’t have to give a client all the reasons why they should risk choosing us over the industry standard because we are the industry standard. That’s huge.”

And the service is not usually a hard sell, making this sector one of the few recession-proof industries. Security services are not something companies feel they can give up, even in a bad economy. Recent episodes of workplace violence keep security top of mind for many companies.

Stanley was been able to switch gears and move from a company that was struggling to an industry that is thriving. It provided some hope for former colleagues.

“Several of my colleagues at my last job… have seen that even in this state of uncertainty, there are other opportunities out there. And they’re looking to see what they can find.”

It’s something Stanley himself didn’t realize until he was laid off. In retrospect, he said, June 30 was his lucky day.