As a hiring sales manager, I have reviewed hundreds and thousands of sales resumes for potential candidates for a sales job opening. This article provides an insight into what a hiring sales manager looks for in a sales resume and the common mistakes sales professionals make.
A cover letter is an important "marketing" tool that most sales professionals ignore to include when applying for a sales job. It is important to customize the cover letter for each sales job you are applying for. As a hiring sales manager, I tend to review the applicants with relevant cover letters before digging into those who only provided a resume. The cover letter, shows that the sales professional understands the interview process and takes the necessary steps and tools used to communicate to the hiring sales manager. In using a cover letter, you can personally address your message to the hiring sales manager. This serves as a communication tool to supplement your resume and to highlight your interest for the sales job, with your unique strengths and suitability for the role. A good cover letter helps in attracting the hiring sales manager's attention.
COMMON SALES RESUME MISTAKES
Many people look for best practices when it comes to developing a sales resume, but just as important is to provide a resume that is mistake free so that it does not eliminate you from the selection process. Remember, your resume is your marketing piece that represents your skills, background and candidacy for the open position. If you have multiple mistakes, it could eliminate you and not give you the opportunity to interview with the hiring sales manager. Below are some common mistakes seen on sales resumes:
- RESUME LENGTH: The best sales resumes consists of 1-2 pages with relevant and current skills that supports your candidacy for the sales job you are applying for. Keep it brief, because hiring sales managers do not spend a lot of time on each sales resume and you want to make an impact with everything you place in your sales resume. If the resume is too long, you will lose the attention of the hiring sales manager and not send a clear and concise message to the hiring sales manager as to why you should be selected in the sales interview process.
- REPEATED INFORMATION: Avoid repeating references to past achievements. If you mentioned an accomplishment, keep it recent and relevant to the job you are applying for. Stay away from repeating what you have already put down as this is a red flag for hiring sales manager that this is all you have accomplished in your sales career.
- RESUME STYLE: Keep your resume clean, easy to read and conservative. I have seen fancy resumes come in with fancy fonts and graphics, which only take up space and make it hard to read. Keep it simple and professional without all the bells and whistles. You are not applying for a creative artist job, so keep it relevant and rely on your sales experience to get you the interview.
- PERSONAL INFORMATION: You do not need to include personal information such as age, weight, height, marital status, gender, religion, ethnicity etc. This information is irrelevant to the hiring sales manager and is only a space filler, focus on what you have to offer and give a picture of your experience and what you have to bring to the table.
- SALARY INFORMATION: Do not include your salary information on your resume and only provide during the right time during the interview process.
- REFERENCES: Avoid another space filler of references available, this is common knowledge and is just a waste of space. Have your references readily available if asked but avoid filling space, hiring managers already know that we can ask for references, but having them ready will set you apart.
- GENERIC INFORMATION: Avoid providing broad and vague information and instead provide clear, concise and specific/quantifiable values wherever possible.
- HOBBIES: Another space filler that goes under the personal information category. Ask yourself, will this really help you land the interview?
- COMPLETE INFORMATION: Do not provide incomplete information, if you mention something on your resume, make sure that the information is complete and provides information to the hiring sales manager.
KEY MUST HAVES FOR A SALES RESUME
- Provide details of your job title, current and recent sales positions in detail.
- Details of responsibilities, skill sets and sales related accomplishments.
- Highlight specific sales experience.
- Descriptive summary of how a particular sales skill was applied to achieve sales goals and performance.
- Highlight specific areas relevant for the sales position you are applying for.
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms used in your previous job, the hiring sales manager might not be familiar with the language you are using and could be confusing.
- Highlight competency like certifications, training, special projects to help support your background.
- Provide key sales achievements of each sales role, improvement in goal attainment etc. to show that you performed in your past sales roles. Hiring sales managers will ask about your past sales accomplishments and how you have performed, be sure to highlight your best.