At Enhancv, I go through several successful resumes per week. They tell the stories of people who’ve used their resume to get a fulfilling job. As you can imagine, many of these resumes can be from the same industry. A few months ago, I analyzed what successful marketing resumes have in common. More recently, I’ve been looking at sales resumes. Much like in marketing, I noticed 5 distinguishing characteristics of successful sales resumes. Below, I describe these in detail so your sales resume can stand out and perform as well as those I’ve analysed.
The Landscape of Sales
Businesses are moving to reinforce their sales departments to compete in global markets. The sales industry is simultaneously growing at a slower rate compared to the national (US) average. This tells us that the field is becoming more competitive as demand continues, but jobs become less common. In order to overcome this increasing competition, applicants need to optimize their resumes to stand out.
What Successful Sales Resumes Have in Common
Quantification is key
Simply describing your past duties is not enough to get noticed by recruiters. To show your value for the organisation, you need to include a metric with your achievements. For example, doubling conversion rates in two months.
In her sales resume, Melanie quantifies her previous experience to show her skills in an applied way.
Doing this shows the recruiter your potential impact. More than that, quantifying your achievements can demonstrate dedication to your craft. You weren’t just the head of the sales department, you had a real impact there too.
This sentiment is shared in Casey’s B2B sales resume, in which she describes targeting outbound sales to increase sales by 15%.
Balance professionality and personality
The conversation on personal resumes has gone on for years. While this topic is still up for debate, recruiters are increasingly concerned with more than just your abilities. You need to show who you are alongside with what you can do. You can do this by introducing your resume with a summary of your career. In it, mention your personal attributes and what motivates you.
Casey opened her sales resume by providing a succinct history of her career. Doing this shows her ideals and gives insight into her approach to work. Alternatively, you can open your resume with a life philosophy that drives how you work. Adam began his resume with “Inspiration” from Tom Hopkins.
There are two main reasons personality is important in sales.
1. Establishing rapport
The sales industry is built on rapport. Without the ability to relate to your clients, sales representatives will struggle to close big deals. Giving insight into your personality shows the recruiter the avenues you have to build conversations and relationships with potential clients. Adam did just that when applying for his job at Software AG.
Melanie did much of the same thing with a different name; personal interests.
2. Demonstrating culture fit
Culture fit describes your ability to mesh with the values and people of your potential employer. Culture fit can affect your motivation to work, your team-dynamic with fellow employees, and your drive to improve. Recruiters look to your resume to see elements of your personality that indicate whether or not you fit with the company. For example, you can include a Most Proud Of section to show your personality. A Most Proud Of moment you can mention an achievement in your most recent role that has special meaning to you. Melanie describes her Most Proud Of moments that relate to her culture fit and her ability to develop team dynamics.
There are alternative ways to show your culture fit, too. Adam included some of his favorite books which gave insight into his approach to sales.
Addressing The Recruiter
An important aspect of any resume – but especially in sales – is to address the recruiter. This doesn’t mean to open your resume with “To sir/madam”, but it does mean your resume should tell a clear story with defined sections. Your resume is your ice-breaker with the recruiter, if it reads as a mash of different parts of information with no clear-connection between sections or logical flow, it’s bound to deter the recruiter from following up. You can open your resume effectively using a personal summary. “My background is extensive, unique, and global…”. This frames everything else that follows on. Later, you can finish your resume with a “Thank you for your time” section. Taken together, these construct a narrative that is easy to follow and pleasing to read.
Adam ensured to close off his resume with a Thank You For Your Time section which added humility and uniqueness to his application.
Knowing Your Strengths
The recruiter should not be left wondering what you’re good at – take responsibility for your own presentation. To do this, brainstorm your “Core Strengths”. There, you can pinpoint skills such as relationship building, door-to-door sales, and marketing. As an added bonus, you can include a quote from a former colleague to back up them up. Think carefully on how you present your strengths, too. Adding simple icons alongside each strength can be very impactful. Overall, taking responsibility for your strengths shows the recruiter you’re both self-aware and knowledgeable of your skill set.
In Melanie’s “Core Strengths” section, she shows the variability in her expertise and provides quotes to back it up.
Tip: Quotes are an alternative to quantifying your achievements as previously mentioned.
Doing Something Different
Recruiters can reviews hundreds of resumes a day. Taking the time to plot your resume out and craft a section that sets you apart from all other applicants is essential to stand out and gain a competitive advantage. This can be particularly true for sales resumes as applicants may mention the same top skills and have accomplished similar goals across their positions. For Adam, his unique section was Thanking the Recruiter for Their Time. For Melanie, it was her “My Skills” pie chart, and for Casey, it was her Most Proud of Section.
Casey’s Most Proud Of section merged professionality and personality seamlessly. Melanie’s pie chart packaged a traditional sections in a different way to bring her uniqueness across. Doing something different can keep you in the mind of the recruiters. When it comes down to candidates with the same experience and skills, this will get you the job.
Writing a successful sales resume
Overall, looking at these resumes, it’s clear that the key to writing a successful sales resume is to be specific to two things: yourself and the position you’re applying to. Without being specific to the role you’re applying for, you’ll fail to highlight the most necessary skills and quantify your achievements. If you fail to reference elements of your personality and self, the recruiter will struggle to determine your culture fit and build a rapport with you.
Including passions and interests can give the recruiter real topics to ask you about in your interview beyond the generic questions we’re all used to. Inevitably, incorporating these traits into your own sales resume will give you a greater advantage in your own job hunt.
*note, this blog post was adapted from a guest post