Get Your Sales Resume Out Of The Recycling Bin

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks


Wouldn’t it be great to get feedback from an employer every time you send in your sales résumé? Sure it would, but now let’s get back to reality. Having personally read 1,000’s of sales résumés over the past 8 years, and having spoken to several 100 hiring managers and HR professionals, I can honestly say that most résumés only get a 15-20 second glance before going into the recycling bin if they don’t catch the readers eye. So if you only have 15-20 seconds, what do you want to share with your reader and prospective employer?

Here are some tips on creating an effective sales résumé that can make the most impact.

  • Include all contact information (i.e. name, mobile number, email address, and LinkedIn profile link). Make sure your name is on ALL pages in case pages accidentally get separated among 100’s of other sales résumés.
  • Start with a powerful introduction. This is your value statement and should summarize you and your sales career in a few compelling sentences. Don’t forget this document is a reflection of you and your professional sales career.
  • Your résumé must be absolutely grammar and spelling perfect! Don’t rely just on spell check because it will not correct everything (ie. To, Too, or is it Two). Typos are no excuse! One mistake is enough to land your résumé in the recycling bin.
  • Make sure your résumé is up-to-date and matches your LinkedIn profile. Any inconsistencies will make you look like you are hiding something. Not having a LinkedIn profile is even worse. I once pooled a room of 20 VP’s of sales to see how many of them would look at a sales reps LinkedIn profile before they interviewed them – and almost 100% said they would. These days your LinkedIn profile is just as important as your resume, and having no profile will only make you look like an amateur sales person.
  • For each sales job, provide a brief description that will paint a picture of the sales environment you performed in (type of customers you sold to, number of clients you managed, verticals sold to, and type of products you sold) in case you’ve worked for brands that people don’t recognize. Make sure decision-makers have enough of a description to understand what type of solution you sold and to what audience.
  • Don’t forget to list your sales accomplishments. If you don’t brag, no one will know how great you really are. You can even provide these details in a simple “bullet” form so you can itemize as many measurable and quantifiable accomplishments. Sales is metric driven so make sure you include your sales numbers; quota attainment, company rankings, territory volume and sales growth.
  • If you email your résumé, name the document after yourself (i.e. Joe Smith 2012.doc).
  • List all positions and jobs in chronological order, starting with present or most recent.
  • List the Name of Company, Division & Title of each position held. Include dates for the roles performed
  • Make sure to include information on your specific type of post-secondary education you have; diploma, degree or major. If you have not completed your post-secondary education don’t mislead people in believing you have a completed degree or diploma. List any uncompleted post-secondary as (ie. Studies – Business Administrations 1999- 2000). This implies you’ve attended a particular program but it doesn’t claim that you have a degree or diploma
  • Add information on any additional sales training courses and other professional development you have taken. It shows you’re serious about your career in sales!

Things to Avoid

  • Writing in paragraph form or being too wordy… Be succinct!
  • Using the words “I” or ‘me’, or writing in the first person.
  • Functional resumes very effective for sales people. They are often very confusing and not well received. In the 15-20 seconds you have to make a first impression, functional resumes almost always get tossed out.
  • Gaps of time between sales jobs without some form of explanation or reason.
  • Listing references or the statement “References Available Upon Request”. It goes without saying that you will provide references if the company is interested in speaking to your past employers, don’t waste the valuable space on your résumé. It’s implied.
  • Extending more than 2 pages. One is usually not enough, two is best, three or more is way too much.
  • If you are missing information about your accomplishments this is the fastest ways to say you didn’t achieve anything. Nobody wants to hire a sales person who cannot achieve results. BRAG about your results and showcase why people will want to hire you.
  • Making things up on your résumé – don’t forget that a good reference check will make you look like a fool.
  • Most importantly, avoid typos or grammar mistakes!!!

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