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How I Landed My Customer Success Dream Job During the Pandemic: Erika Villarreal

I had never been out of a job until last June 2020.

I spent my last 10 years working for the same company and the pandemic made me question a lot of things.

I thought I just needed a change. I decided to quit my job in search for a new challenge. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I took a leap of faith and decided to go for it.

It took me 5 months to land my dream job.

In this post, I'm gong to detail everything I had to do to land not just a "job" but my dream job.

Understanding my strengths and weaknesses

First thing I did is performed a SWOT analysis. Understanding my strengths and weaknesses allowed me to clearly identify what’s missing and work to improve those weaknesses. Here are some questions I recommend asking yourself:

- What are the job description requirements?

- Are you a good fit?

- What’s missing and how can you get there?

- Is there a certification I need to take?

Target your resume to the Customer Success position you are applying to

You have no idea how many versions of my Resume I have saved.

I think I iterated over 30 – 40 times. I did this for every position that I was really interested in. My resume was never the same, it changed for every position I applied to. Why? Because every position has different requirements and HR’s job is to filter to get the people that better match their job description. When I started doing this, I started receiving more calls for interviews . I started moving along more processes because of this.

How do you target your resume to a specific position? Read the job description and highlight key words. Those key words need to be in your resume one way or the other. The more key words from the job description you check in your resume the better.


Job description:

You’ll be responsible for onboarding new customers by engaging users in the onboarding stages, driving ongoing adoption, addressing technical issues, and managing churn risks.

Key words:

Onboarding, driving adoption, churn risks.


Mapped the B2B customer journey from onboarding through renewal; developed listening points throughout the customer’s lifecycle and created a successful engagement model that led to a company retention rate of 95%.

Build relationships on LinkedIn

Building relationships doesn't mean sending countless inmails asking for favors when you don’t even know them. Building relationships is all about actually caring about other people on your network. Read their content, comment, add value. When you build relationships, people start offering their help without you having to ask them. I was lucky, during the time I was out of a job, I had so many people willing to help out. They would share open positions with me via DM (you know who you are… thank you!)


Inmail –

Hello Rosalyn. I see you’re working in –name of company – will you be willing to send my resume to your HR manager? I really appreciate it.


Connection request with PERSONALIZED MESSAGE:

Hi Rosalyn! You popped out in my feed with –Company- news of you joining as a CCO. Congrats! I'm a huge fan of –Company- product. Had the opportunity to read your Fast Company featured post. I particularly liked your recommendation to renew your focus on training if you want to succeed in this B2B SaaS world. I also believe training is the best way to increase product adoption (and eventually expansion/upsell opportunities). Thanks for sharing that! Anyway, happy to connect!

And… do not ask for favors

People will offer to help when the relationship has been built, not before.

Differentiate from the rest

What does that even mean? It’s a difficult time to be looking for a job. Every job position that you apply to will have more than 200 applicants. Stand out. Sending your resume don’t cut it anymore.

Go the extra mile.

Do they ask for cover letter? Take the time to actually learn more about the company. What is their product? Who are their customers? Did they recently raise money? What are their values? Research all you can and show your interest in that company by actually personalizing your cover letter to them. If you want to go a step further, build a presentation, do something different.

Pro tip: Build a EBR presentation with the company’s logo and pretend you are the CSM for that company. What would you present if you were their CSM? Which metrics would you choose? This will show the hiring manager you did your research, you know and understand their product. Also, it tells a compelling message: you really care about joining that company.

Take a CSM certification

Why? Well, first they’re pretty awesome. It also gives you competitive advantage when you’re applying to CS roles. Two of the most common certifications include: Success Hacker or Practical CSM. Evaluate their courses, take the certification.

Prepare for every interview

Customer Success interviews are pretty straightforward and most of them ask the same kind of questions. Look for a list of questions that they might ask and prepare the answers to those questions beforehand. When you do this, the chances of a question throwing you off will be smaller as you've already done the prep. Do mock up interviews. Ask your family or a friend to help. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

Do not give up! If something is not working, iterate and try again! You’ll eventually get there. The most important part of this process is keeping your hopes up.


Erika Villarreal is a Customer Success Manager at SmartMoving Software, before that she helped grow a FinTech startup in Mexico. She's an active member of the Customer Success community on LinkedIn and constantly produces valuable content in the space.


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