Make sure your sales resume is selling you.
If you'd like to land a job in sales, your resume must be in tip-top shape. After all, if you can't sell yourself, how can you sell a company's products or services?
If you have a current sales-representative resume but want to ensure it gets you interviews and the position you desire, you may have to make some changes to it. This article will walk you through several strategies that can help you position your sales-experience resume in the best possible light, regardless of if you're applying for an entry-level sales position, manager role, and more.
What makes a sales resume unique?
All types of businesses depend on sales to survive. Therefore, sales professionals are highly valued and often rewarded through generous compensation plans that are not seen in other fields.
If you'd like to secure a job in sales, your resume should be as unique as the career path you've chosen to pursue. This can allow you to stand out among other applicants and truly prove your worth to recruiters and hiring managers. Here are several of the many reasons sales resumes are one of a kind.
Emphasis on quantifiable achievements
It's one thing to say you've boosted sales at your previous job. However, a phrase such as “Boosted sales in five locations by 30% over a 6 month period,” is far more meaningful. Sales is all about numbers, so it only makes sense that you quantity your achievements.
Quantifiable achievements can help you legitimize your accomplishments and build credibility. A few examples include:
An increase in sales volume
Your ranking among other sales professionals
An increase in new customers or accounts
The dollar figure you generated through your sales efforts
While the human aspect of sales is important, so is the technical aspect. To be efficient and make the most out of your time, you must be well-versed in a variety of sales software tools. They can improve the way you operate and help you close more deals. Below are several popular tools you may want to add to your resume.
Dialpad: Dialpad helps improve sales calls via real-time coaching and insights so that you can be more productive.
Zoom and Skype: Zoom and Skype are two video conferencing tools you can use to communicate with your prospects and current customers.
Bit: You can use Bit to create custom proposals, sales decks, and other valuable sales-related content.
DocuSign: DocuSign is useful as it can allow you to send out and receive signatures on various contracts from new customers and accounts.
Apptivo: Apptivo is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that also comes with invoicing, sales reporting, and project management solutions.
Sales soft skills
Unlike hard sales skills like product knowledge and CRM software management, soft skills for sales are difficult to learn and measure. However, since sales is a people-centric field, soft skills are essential. They can allow you to develop strong relationships with prospects and customers and convince them to like you and trust you.
When you write your sales resume, be sure it includes both hard sales skills as well as soft sales skills such as:
Empathy: Empathy shows that you understand your prospects and customers. It can make it easier for you to respond well to their cues and meet their unique needs and preferences.
Active Listening: Active listening by maintaining good eye contact, not interrupting, asking questions, and summarizing is vital as it shows that you care about what your prospects and customers have to say.
Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence refers to perceiving and managing emotions. It can allow you to understand how others are feeling and respond appropriately.
Curiosity: Curiosity refers to the desire to know and understand your prospects and customers. It's essential if you'd like to build rapport and relationships.
Tips for a better sales resume
The following sales resume example highlights some key features that are essential to incorporate in your own document.
1. Add your LinkedIn profile URL
Did you know that 90 percent of employers search for candidates' social media profiles online before setting up an interview? Make it easy on them by providing links to your social accounts or professional websites near your other contact information.
While LinkedIn is important for all industries, it's particularly crucial for sales. Therefore, you should include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your resume. HR professionals and sales recruiters want to connect to candidates who have complete profiles and use the network often to share knowledge and connect with other sales pros and prospects.
If you'd rather keep your online profiles hidden from recruiters, make sure to adjust your security settings or change your account names so they're harder to find.
2. Include a strong professional summary
Your professional summary should highlight your most valuable sales-related skills and work experience. Its job is to give potential recruiters and employers the chance to quickly learn what you can offer their company.
Ideally, it would be one paragraph long and set you apart from other candidates. Think of it as your personal sales pitch that's short, sweet, to the point, and showcases your most notable achievements. Here's an example of an effective professional sales summary:
“Dynamic, results-driven sales strategist with a 14+ year record of achievement and demonstrated success driving multimillion-dollar revenue growth while providing visionary sales leadership in highly competitive markets. Solid track record securing key clients and increasing product distribution to grow market share. Tenacious in building new business, securing customer loyalty, and forging strong relationships with business partners. Exceptional mentor and coach; combine business acumen with innate leadership abilities to recruit, build, and retain top-performing sales teams.”
3. List your core sales skills and areas of emphasis near the top
It's important that the core skills and areas of emphasis match those that are mentioned in the job description. These may include negotiation, sales planning, relationship building, and selling to customer service. It should be clear that you have what it takes to meet the demands of the position.
When listing out these core competencies, make sure you lay them out in an easy-to-read, scannable format. This will help your sales-representative resume get through the applicant tracking system (ATS), as well as grab the attention of the human hiring manager on the other side.
4. Show off your sales results
Remember, sales is a results-focused field — you can't simply state you're a great candidate and sales professional. You must prove it.
To do so, use numbers and percentages throughout your resume. These figures can bring your resume to life and show a potential employer or hiring manager what you could achieve for them. Here are some examples:
Increased sales by 25 percent through business development and lead generation.
Acquired two large accounts, which grew revenues by 10 percent.
Managed 100 inbound sales calls each day.
Achieved an average of 120 percent of sales goals for three consecutive months.
Provided recommendations that led to an additional $10K in upsell revenue.
5. Stay away from “creative” resume elements
A sales-representative resume template can feel stiff and limiting, so it's common for sales candidates to add their own touch through choosing a different font, picking an unusual graphic for bullet lists, or even including images.
Unfortunately, those tactics can often backfire with most ATS programs having limited ability to “understand” and evaluate those design elements. Instead, many will simply disqualify or downgrade a resume for using them.
Sales candidates should use standard headlines (“Skills” instead of “What I do best,” and “Work Experience” instead of “What I've done”), simple fonts, and simple black dots for bullets. Do not include charts, tables, or infographics.
6. Customize your resume for each position
As you select the sales job openings you are interested in and start applying, make sure your resume is customized to each different job description by reviewing each carefully. Job seekers may even print the job descriptions and highlight keywords or points of emphasis, or put them through a word cloud generator to see what pops up most. Doing this will help ensure your resume is compatible with an ATS.
Also, take a look at the prospective employer's website, run a search for recent media mentions and news about the organization, and check out their Twitter profile.
Then, create a version of your sales-management resume that uses relevant keywords and speaks to the organization's needs and culture. That way, your resume will feel as if it was written specifically for this job opening.
The importance of a review checklist
It's important that once your resume is ready, you look over it again — and again. Use this checklist as a starting point when reviewing your resume to catch mistakes:
Eliminate any mention of your birthday, birth year, graduation date, or any dates that could lead to age discrimination.
Print your resume and read it backward (i.e. from the last word to the beginning) to catch any typos.
Double-check that your contact information is in the body of the resume, not in the header.
Signs that your sales resume is weak
In a perfect world, you'd send your off sales resume and hear back from a hiring manager or recruiter right away. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. If you apply for many sales positions and don't hear back, there's a good chance your sales resume is weak. Here are a few signs that may indicate this:
Overly Vague: Those who hire sales professionals want to know exactly what a potential candidate has accomplished and how they may benefit their business. If your resume is too vague or unclear, they'll likely ignore it.
No Keywords: If your resume lacks sales-related keywords, an applicant tracking system may think you are unqualified. Some of the top keywords you may want to incorporate include: sales, account management, forecasting, leads, relationships, and CRM.
Lack of Relevant Skills: If you've never had a sales job before, you can break into the field with transferable skills. In the event you don't highlight transferable skills like excellent communication or active listening, your resume may fall by the wayside.
Supplement your sales-representative resume with a strong cover letter
Strong communication skills are essential for a sales rep, so there's a lot of pressure on your cover letter. But if you do it right, it can be a huge point in your favor. A good sales cover letter can help you persuade a hiring manager that you are worth the interview. These tips can turn your cover letter from average to exceptional.
Strong Introduction: Capture attention with a strong introduction that is specific to the business as well as their products and services. This can show that you've done your research and are serious about the position at stake.
Quantifiable Achievements: Choose a few of the most impressive quantifiable achievements you listed on your resume and highlight them in your cover letter. Go into detail about what you did to accomplish them.
Active Voice: Use active, rather than passive voice as well as action verbs such as increased, maximized, and generated. This will allow your achievements to sound more impressive.
When in doubt, ask for help
If you're still not sure if your sales-representative resume is ready to land you the job, you might want to consider some expert help. A professional resume writer is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to turn your resume from ordinary to extraordinary.
Not only do they understand how to beat the ATS and highlight your value in a way that impresses a hiring manager, but they also understand what will make you stand out among other sales professionals. Just like a mechanic knows everything there is to know about your car, a resume writer is an expert in their field.
How does your sales resume fare? Find out by getting a free resume critique.