It is not always easy to make changes in life. But sometimes they are worth it.

I have been fortunate enough to have a good career path while working at MOXTEK since 2006. Those were long 9 years of my life. I am forever grateful that this opportunity to work for MOXTEK came to me early, while I was still studying at Utah Valley University, getting my BS degree in Computer Science.

I came to the states in 2005 with $1 in my pocket. Everything was new to me and I did not know what my life prepared for me. But I always knew that if I was to succeed, I had to move forward as I have always been. Then I would see what this life had prepared for me.

Since my childhood, regardless of my circumstances, I prepared myself for challenges in life. My life in the orphanage and then in foster care prepared me for life on my own when I turned 18. I successfully completed my studies at Chernivtsi State National University and received my BS degree in Electronics. Then I successfully completed a program and received my degree in Computer science from Utah Valley University. While I was a student at UVU, MOXTEK accepted me as an employee to work as the Technical Sales Engineer. This is where my true career path began.

MOXTEK supported me through my first 6 years of employment by getting me my H1B visa which enabled me to stay in the US until I received my Permanent Residency Card (Green Card) in February of 2014.

During my work with MOXTEK I opened new markets in Eastern Europe (specifically in Russia and Ukraine) where we now have new clients and suppliers. I was surprised to learn that through my ability to communicate technical details I was able to help resolve supplier issues and save over $400K annually on other raw materials for the company. However, I knew that if I put enough effort into my work, I would succeed, as I always had.

When I started with MOXTEK, I did not know anything about x-ray technologies. I was also very unfamiliar with communication and business. I had to develop my skills over the years. I started with strong technical skills but no sales and marketing experience. I developed my skills through exceptional effort including courses, hands-on learning with colleagues, and studying technical aspects and science around each product I sell. I took some basic training in X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical methods, MOXTEK’s products and sales, and marketing to succeed as an Account Executive and Technical Sales Engineer. Once I became more competent in the required skills for my job I helped co-workers and new employees to be successful in their roles as well, through a variety of work projects and trainings. But even then I felt that I was still being viewed as a child, who does not know enough in order to take any higher positions within MOXTEK. Those who are parents already know that when you raise your child, even when they are adults, they are still your child. I felt MOXTEK always perceived me the same way.

Sometimes life’s circumstances, regardless how difficult they are, prepare you to be something better for something even more rewarding in the future. I feel that through all these years of working at MOXTEK I have been preparing myself for something greater, where my skills and experience will truly count.

One day I received an email from a recruiter who asked me if I would consider talking to another recruiter about this great job opportunity that would advance my career. I was a little skeptical that anyone would want to talk to me, but was happy to hear that someone appreciated my achievements and wanted to talk to me. I replied that I would be happy to explore this opportunity. Then this recruiter passed my contact details to another recruiter from Grapevine staffing.

The Grapevine staffing recruiter quickly emailed me the next day and introduced herself. She said that she knew that the first recruiter had a good feel about people she contacts. So she scheduled her first phone interview with me. Our interview went well. The only thing where I did not fit is that I did not sell Capital Equipment. But this did not stop her from referring me to FOSS to see if they would consider me for another interview.

I was waiting anxiously in a room for a call from the HR director the next day. An hour has passed and the HR director did not call me. I was wondering what was going on and I quickly contacted the recruiter to find out whether they have already filled in the position.

I am sorry that the HR director was not able to join for the job interview call today. I was really looking forward to speaking with her. Is there any chance that she will still be able to call me today? If not, then what is the best time to have a chance to speak about this job opportunity with the HR director in the future? I will do my best to make myself available for this interview.”

The recruiter emailed me and asked me about my availability the next day. I was happy to hear back from her. She scheduled me for my interview the next day. My hopes did not go away and I continued to anticipate good things to happen to me.

The FOSS HR director called me. First, she apologized for not calling me yesterday and then she spent with me almost an hour asking questions about me and what I can offer FOSS. She was really pleasant to talk to. I could relate to her and help her to uncover my potential. However, she had the same concern about my ability to sell Capital Equipment. At this point, I started putting together a folder where I collected information about FOSS and interview guides, to help me with the interview process.

Then I received an email from the recruiter:

What is your best availability next Tuesday 3/18/15 and Wednesday 3/19/15? The hiring manager appears to be fairly open on those days.  He is currently traveling but the HR director would like to schedule a time now. If it turns out that the time does not work for the hiring manager, she will reschedule with you by Friday 3/13/15.”

I was happy to learn that the HR director heard something in my voice that prompted her to talk to the hiring manager to see if he would be interested in interviewing me. She sent me an email with the confirmation date for another interview. So, I quickly, within 24 hours emailed the HR director my thank you note (I have replaced the real name with a fake one):

Dear Amanda,

Thank you for finding time to interview me today for the Regional Sales Manager position at FOSS. It was my pleasure to get to know you personally over the phone.

The advanced analytical industry has always been an exciting place to work and I see how your company’s future holds even more new opportunities and growth through the commitment to provide new solutions to the industry each year. And I would like to be a part of this growth, which will positively impact my personal growth and help me to meet my long term goal when someday I will be able to manage my own sales team.

I sincerely believe that my technical skills, backed up with excellent academic qualifications, and my sales skills, combined with the background experience in x-ray industry (selling components for the analytical instrumentation) and vigorous business, sales and management workshops/classes,  will add value to your company, as I apply what I’ve learned at Moxtek to working for FOSS. I understand analytical instruments “inside-out” and how the components are used inside of each instruments – its applications, which enables me quickly to learn new responsibilities and your company’s products, specifically, NIR, FT-IR, and x-ray analyzers (getting to know products “outside-in”) with a minimum of instruction and training.

A key to my success is that I develop trusted and lasting relationships with clients. A key strength of mine is my ability to uncover needs and propose solutions while being able to communicate technical aspects across different team at the prospect organization. I have a proven track record of success, including increasing sales and cost reductions with my current employer.

Amanda, I would like to emphasize my desire to work for FOSS. Should you want to talk with me further, I would be more than happy to oblige. I look forward to the possibility of working with you.

Kind Regards,

Vitaliy

So, after my thank you note, I received an email from her. She was kind enough to share with me what I needed to prepare for to answer the hiring manager’s questions. Then, I quickly emailed my career advisor to let her know about my progress and exciting news:

I think I had a successful interview today with FOSS. They have scheduled me for a second interview next Wed with their hiring manager. Their typical hiring process takes less than 1 month (2 interviews only) and they have interviewed 3 other candidates already. In comparison to them, I have not sold corporate equipment (basically complete end-user analytical systems). Amanda was very pleasant to talk to and she told me where I am really lacking the experience in comparison to other candidates. But she feels good about me and that’s why I have a second interview. She told me if I could convince a hiring manager next week that even though I did not sell the complete systems, I still would have the ability and drive to sell them with the minimal training required.

I’ve spoken with the career advisor multiple times. She guided me in the right direction. I listened to the HR director and I listened to the career advisor, as I always do. I paid close attention to every detail in my correspondence emails and made sure that I was able to answer the tough questions. I also started reading more about FOSS and learning about their products and services. In addition, I started to read books and listen to the audio books about technology, interviews, the food industry, and spectroscopy. I was so eager to learn that I could not stop. I digested as much as I could.

Before my next interview I attended the scientific conference in New Orleans. I have also got a chance to meet with FOSS to discuss their products. I think I am much better prepared for the interview than was before our meeting, as it concerns the products knowledge.

Meanwhile, I asked the recruiter some questions about the Hiring Manager. Here is what I asked:

  • Is the person with whom I’m interviewing the decision-maker? If he isn’t, who is? Is the interviewer my potential boss?
  • What can you tell me about the culture of the company? Is there anything specific I should avoid doing or discussing?
  • What is the hiring manager really looking for in job applicants like me?
  • What is a key thing about the company you would like potential hires to know?
  • What can you tell me about the interviewer? My boss? About the people with whom I will be working with?      
  • What is the company’s hiring philosophy?

The recruiter provided all necessary answers. In addition, I’ve learned a lot about the Hiring Manager from his LinkedIn profile.

Almost a week later, a phone call came from the hiring manager at FOSS. He was eager to learn about me. I started with this “I have been delighted to read about your achievements on LinkedIn and now, I am glad I have this opportunity to talk to you.” To which he responded with a smile “I have been learning about you from LinkedIn also.” I thought it was a great way to start our conversation.

Without any wait, he started the interview. He asked a lot of tough questions related to sales, products, and my experience. I felt I was well prepared for his questions. I anticipated his questions, because the assessment test I took before the phone interview helped me to understand what FOSS was really looking for. I already possessed all the skills that I learned from MOXTEK. These skills that I learned from the many different training seminars that MOXTEK paid for me to go to were really helpful through my career there and particularly during this interview. I also studied all this time about FOSS through online research and their website. A lot of new things to learn but beneficial knowledge to have so I could ask the interviewer the right questions.

Our interview lasted over an hour. When the interview concluded, the Hiring Manager continued to ask further questions about me. Finally he stopped and said “We have gone over an hour, and I have not given you a chance to ask me questions. So if you have any questions, you may ask me now.”

I was happy to ask him questions, but unfortunately I was not able to ask everything that I wanted. I asked maybe 5 questions in total. My last two questions were, “Do you see anything that may stop you from hiring today?” Then, the Hiring Manager responded “No. There is only one thing that you lack experience selling capital equipment”. I replied, “I have always succeeded in my life in everything I do. I can prove it to you, but I just need a chance”. Then I asked him another question. “If hired, what would you like me to accomplish in 3 months to get your attention?” The Hiring Manager answered “I really would like you to sell equipment. But that could be unreasonable to ask. So, what I really want you to do is to really learn as much as possible and then go meet with clients”. I was happy that his expectations were realistic. He was understanding and very courteous to me. I loved that about him.

Finally, I felt that I had to ask one last question, “What are the next steps in the interview process?” He said that he wanted to talk to his friend and a VP to see what he thinks about me and then will call me. I asked “When should I expect a call?” He said by the end of the week (my interview was on Tuesday). I asked if he doesn’t call by next Tuesday, if I could call him. And I think this is where I truly grabbed his attention. I was persuasive and was not going to give up. So he said to not worry because they will call me for sure on Friday. And sure enough, on Friday I received an email from FOSS that said the following:

“It is a pleasure for us to invite you to meet the Hiring Manager and our operation in Minnesota personally.  We are still coordinating the agenda but I wanted to know if you will be available to travel on Thursday so you can spend 4 hours with us on Friday?  

In the meantime, I want to ask you to please complete some “homework” in preparation to the interview:  Could you please prepare a short plan on “my first 100 days with FOSS”?  There are no guidelines here.  You have full freedom to come up with that which you think will suit better your learning and immersion into Foss.  You shall be prepared to discuss this plan with the Hiring Manager when you come.”

During this entire process I kept good conversation with my recruiter, and also my school’s career advisor. They both were really helpful in guiding me through the entire process. They made sure that I was well prepared and didn’t mess up during the interview. I have also emailed my thank you note to the hiring manager, very personalized to address his concerns. Here is my note (the real name is removed):

Dear Hiring Manager,

Thank you for taking the time to discuss your Regional Sales Manager position. I appreciate the conversation that allowed me to learn more about you, the company, and this opportunity. I want to be a part of the FOSS team and add value in whatever capacity you feel most appropriate and most of value.

Einstein was once asked what he considered the main difference between his own intelligence and that of other people. He thought for a while, and replied “Well, when most people look for a needle in a haystack, they stop when they find it. But I will continue looking to discover if I can find a second, a third, and maybe, if I am very lucky, a fourth or fifth needle”. 

I believe that Einstein’s words also describe my determination to succeed. I want to take a moment to highlight what I consider to be my most significant capabilities that I will bring to this position:

Academic Qualifications. The ad specified a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Business, Marketing, or other related fields qualification is required. I have degrees in Electronics Engineering and in Computer Science. My MBA program is preparing me to understand the business and economic aspects of your company and how to succeed as a Regional Sales Manager. But beyond that, I have received excellent sales, management, and leadership trainings from the leaders in comprehensive talent development such as the American Management Association, Proficientz B2B Product Management Training (formerly Zig Zag Marketing), and Blackblot Product Management Expertise.

Experience. The ad specified “experience in driving revenue in technical products/instruments strongly preferred”.  Other than the fact that I have not formally sold the capital analytical systems, I have sold many technical products, and the job I’m currently in is quite similar to this one. I am excited by the chance to apply what I’ve learned at MOXTEK to working for FOSS. I am already familiar with FOSS’s Market Segments through the tradeshows and working with clients in the industry. I am also familiar with the competition and will quickly learn to differentiate FOSS from its competition. I will make sure that the customers are happy to choose FOSS products.

Ability to develop trusted, lasting relationships with clients. With a proven track record, I will bring to this job more than eight years of progressive experience in all phases of sales and marketing to domestic and international clients in need of components for various analytical instruments. I have a consistent pattern of performance to meet and exceed personal and company goals.

Ability to uncover client needs and propose solutions while communicating technical aspects across different teams and driving revenue in technical products and instruments. After I uncover needs, with my computer science background, I will make effective value-based proposals and presentations to emphasize the benefits and profit enhancements of the FOSS products.

Quick study, so I can be up and running with a minimum of instruction and training.

I hope the above information explains the value I will bring to FOSS. I look forward to speaking with you again and scheduling an appointment to speak with Michael Connelly. Again, thank you for your time, your interest, and your support.

Sincerely yours,

Vitaliy Mahidov

I was really excited that the HR director at FOSS asked me to prepare a presentation “My first 100 days at FOSS”. At the same time I didn’t exactly know what they were looking for in my presentation. So I took all my skills that I gained through the sales trainings I went through while at MOXTEK, and also took my MBA program and business development trainings and applied them to my presentation. As a result, I came up with this agenda, which covered the majority of points I thought were important to focus on:

  1. Introduction
  2. Plan for the Business (first 20 days)
  3. Analyze and Manage the Territory (0‐100 days)
  4. Accelerate Learning by Following a Learning Plan (0‐100 days)
  5. Find and Qualify the Business (20‐40 days)
  6. Create and Execute an Action Plan (0‐70 days)
  7. Earn and Deliver the Business (70‐90 days)
  8. Manage Relationships (100 days)
  9. Conclusion

The presentation was originally too long, so I had cut a lot of it out. With the help of my host family and my career advisor I trimmed it down. My presentation truly impressed everyone who saw it. I spent a lot of hours learning, reading, and then putting my presentation together. Four nights I went to bed at 3 AM. I was feeling worn out, but inside I was happy for the accomplishments I’d achieved. This preparation truly stretched me and tested my sales, business, and technical skills. Thanks to my computer science background, I was able to make it a very successful presentation. I thought to myself that if I don’t make it through the interview then I can still use my presentation for any other sales interview where I could truly shine, and show off my capabilities and skills.

The important key element of my interview was my mission statement in which I started to believe deeply, the more I had been learning about FOSS. So, my mission statement went like this:

A Practical Thinker who pioneers sales and marketing strategies that enhance revenue, growth, and profitability to drive consultative sales of technically complex products and services in highly competitive markets across the North‐West Region as a Regional Sales Manager at FOSS.”

The time came to go to the interview. I purchased my ticket to Minnesota, booked the hotel, and planned my flight to the interview on Thursday night so I could be there early on Friday for the interview.

The whole time before the interview, I kept reviewing and learning about the company, myself, and people that I will be interviewing with. I was feeling excited but also worn out. On Tuesday and Wednesday after my evening classes at the University of Utah, I went back home and continued to prepare for the interview until 3-4 AM. I knew that if I prepared well, then it would be shown in my presentation.

On Thursday I arrived at the Springfield Hills hotel (which was near FOSS) at about 10:15pm. I started to prepare myself for the interview. First, I ironed all my dress clothes. While ironing, my hands started to shake. I was nervous thinking about tomorrow, which was a big day for me. Everything so far went well for me. After I finished ironing, I started reviewing my presentation. I wanted to make sure that I covered everything I needed to cover. Unfortunately, I had to shrink down a lot so that my presentation would only be 17-20 minutes. At about 12 am I went to bed. I didn’t want to stay up too late this time. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of sleep before the interview. I set my alarm for 6:15 am because my ride to FOSS was going to pick me up at my hotel at 7:45 am. I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to prepare for the meeting in the morning with the hiring manager of FOSS.

I woke up, got ready, had a good breakfast, and was ready to meet with the Hiring Manager. I even checked out of the hotel. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get any extra charges in case I didn’t make it back to the hotel before 1pm, which was check-out time.

I anxiously awaited downstairs at the reception desk. I even turned off my phone to make sure that I didn’t have any distractions. Unfortunately, that was a bad decision. Close to 8 am, I still had not seen my ride. I started to get nervous. What if I missed him? What if he decided not to come? What if the same story repeats itself when original interview did not occur and I was going to be scheduled for another one? All of those questions were in my head the entire morning. I turned my cell phone on at 7:55am. I noticed I missed a call from the hiring manager. I felt so terrible that I missed his call. Without listening to his voicemail message, I called him immediately back and apologized for missing him. What really helped me was good planning prior to the interview. I printed out the map to FOSS from my hotel. I also rented a car, because renting a car was less expensive than getting a shuttle from the airport to the hotel. But I also thought that if anything happened, it would be great to be able to get anywhere at any time with a rental car. I was right. While talking to the hiring manager on the phone, I told him that I had a car and would be able to drive to FOSS shortly. He really understood. I was looking forward to him picking me up. I had never been picked up at a hotel by the hiring manager and possibly a future boss. I didn’t understand why he would do that. I even asked the recruiters to explain it to me. But they were surprised also. My host dad told me that maybe the hiring manager wanted me to feel comfortable and to not worry about anything. I was happy that he wanted me to have a good calm stay while visiting with FOSS. But unfortunately my morning did not start as I planned. Thankfully, I arrived at FOSS 5 minutes after 8 am. Not too bad. But, I started to feel the pressure.

When I arrived, I called the hiring manager again to let him know I had arrived at FOSS. He happily came out and greeted me. He looked fit with light hair. From his profile I read that he did karate. From our phone interview I found out that he had a black belt and competed professionally in the past with great success. I still could see that he took good care of his health.

We greeted and introduced each other. He took me to his office and started explaining to me a little bit more about the position. He pointed out that Alaska and Hawaii are also part of my territory. But he kindly said “Do not get too excited…”

He walked me through the building and showed me different rooms and a huge stock room. I was anxious to see everything and reaffirm the knowledge I’d gained about the company from researching online. He was kind enough to share more details about the company and their products. Then, he was also eager to learn about my presentation.

To start my presentation was really hard. At the beginning of the presentation I started to be very nervous and to breathe heavily. Not sure why, but maybe because I was trying too hard to impress him. The interviewer stopped me for a moment and said the following “Breathe”. I kind of started breathing slower. Then I stopped. But he said “Take a few more breaths”. So I did, until I felt calm and was ready to proceed with my presentation.

During the presentation I answered all of his questions. I think that if I hadn’t taken the time to prepare I would not have had confidence to answer all of his questions. But luckily, a good preparation for anything pays back in positive ways.

At 12:30pm I went with the hiring manager to eat lunch. I was nervous to eat with him, but he was very kind and friendly and it calmed my nerves. He gave me a lot of advice to help me understand his expectations. He told me that he understood why I wanted to move on from MOXTEK. After lunch, I asked him what he thought about my presentation. He was happy to answer and said, “I loved your presentation because it showed me how you will prepare for your new customer visits.”

I felt really good about my presentation and the overall interview. But I did not know what to expect. So I asked him about the next step in the hiring process. He replied “I am leaving for vacation, so you may not hear from me until a week later”. I was trying to process what he had just said. Basically, I was wondering if he said what he had just said. But then he continued “If I make the decision before I go on vacation, then the HR director will call you with further details”. I was happy to learn that there is a possibility to hear sooner. And, I really hoped that Maria would reply to me sooner.

On Monday, my recruiter emailed me:

I wanted to you let you that I spoke with the HR director and she said that she had not heard any feedback from the hiring manager yet. But I expect to speak with him after his vacation. I am wondering if you had a chance to send out “thank you” emails to the team yet?”

I responded:

Thank you for the additional information about this opportunity that you emailed me about.

I sent handwritten notes to the people I met with. I wrote those notes while I was at the airport in Minnesota, and mailed them from the airport by regular mail last Friday. I think they will receive them today or tomorrow.

Also, I emailed the detailed outline of my presentation to the hiring manager. I will forward it to you also.

Please let me know if there is anything else that I can do for you and FOSS.”

Since I had plenty of time at the airport before the departure I wrote thank you notes on thank you cards that I brought with me. This is what I wrote to the hiring manager:

Dear Hiring Manager,

Thank you for a wonderful time and hospitality. I hope I was able to answer all your questions and to demonstrate my skills, experience, and confidence that I can do this job and deliver positive results. Thank you for sharing more information about the company and its culture, and the people. I am looking forward to meeting each talented team member personally in the near future. You’ve had a great opportunity to evaluate my personality and enthusiasm. I know that you agree that I have something new to bring to your team and I am looking forward to put to practice everything I told you today.

Opportunities like these don’t either come to me, where I get to work for a company with a great potential, or to you, where you get to meet someone with a very diverse background as mine. We both could benefit from this experience. I know that you will make a right choice by selecting me as a Regional Sales Manager.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Vitaly”

I had to write my thank you notes first on my draft paper, so I could later carefully write them on the cards. At that time a beautiful singer was playing the piano at the airport, which was quite an inspiration for me to finish writing the notes.

A couple of days later (finally), I received a phone call early in the morning from the recruiter who manages FOSS’s account and closes the deal. She told me that she had good news for me. I couldn’t believe my own ears! Then she preceded asking questions about my compensation expectations. I asked if she could negotiate on the higher end of the proposed range. So I said “To make me really happy I would like to receive the higher end of the range”. Then she asked more questions and we settled on a salary I felt would be great for me.

Later that day the HR Director called me and we talked about the good news. She welcomed me to FOSS. We were both really excited. I didn’t get a change to meet the HR Director on my visit to FOSS, but I thought how great she was and how she is someone I would get along with. I am still waiting for the day I will finally get to meet her.

Then I received all the documents they needed me to sign and was happy to be accepted into the FOSS family!

After I confirmed that I was accepted into the Foss family, I quickly called my career advisor, my recruiter, my American host family, and everybody else who helped and guided me through this whole process. I thanked all of them personally for everything they did for me. I will never forget these amazing people who helped me in my life.

This is how my story went. My first day at FOSS is scheduled for May 18th.

Vitaly

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