Let’s talk resume writing specifically for Sales Professionals. This is perhaps the #1 topic that I get asked about in my job on a daily basis. Luckily, and surprisingly, I’ve grown to love resume writing over the years – I should seriously consider starting a side biz – and have learned the ins and outs of effectively articulating a snap shot of yourself and your experience on paper that can act as your ticket in the door for an interview, if executed the right way.
Statistically speaking, we know that employers or hiring managers spend less than 10 seconds looking at a resume before making a decision. Let’s just call it 8 seconds for good measure. 8 seconds is literally the amount of time it takes me to pour myself a cup of coffee in the morning and stir in some Hazelnut creamer. Or the time it takes for me to walk from one end of my office to the other when I become suddenly concerned about hitting my steps for the day (does anyone else do that?). My point is, 8 seconds is not a lot of time. So the information that decision makers do see, process, and internalize in that time matters. Like it or not, as humans we are quick to develop opinions.
So what needs to be on the resume?
- For starters, stick to a fairly basic resume format. Unless you’re a Graphic Designer, Digital Marketer, etc., – in which case, go all out on designing a visually appealing work of art! – as Sales Professionals, let’s stick to a basic, clean, effective layout that does absolutely nothing to distract the reader from your success in the industry thus far.
- Your full name and contact information. It’s 2019 and I still get resumes that have contact info but no name, or a name but no contact. True story. “Yes, whoever you are, your experience looks great and I’d love to call you. But I can’t.” Or my favorite, “Well, I have your contact info so I’m going to call you anyway and then ask who you are.” That’s a fun one.
Note: Throw a link to your LinkedIn profile on the top near your contact information as well. Your LinkedIn profile should act as your digital resume and should identically match your paper resume to a tee. All dates of employment should match, your education section should look the same, and please consider throwing a decent photo up there. Additionally, take some time to build out your skills section and network with your past managers, peers, or colleagues for some written recommendations as a testament to your character and overall performance. LinkedIn has become a commonplace employment tool both from a hiring perspective and candidate perspective, and is almost second nature for employers to look up candidates interviewing for jobs. Take the opportunity to make sure it’s as dialed in as it can possibly be. LinkedIn is a platform that should aid you in your candidacy, not hinder you, if used effectively.
3. Go ahead and ditch the “Objective/Summary” section that is probably taking up a quarter page on your resume. Unless you have a clean, concise, and pretty compelling statement or objective, (and there are some reasons for having one), I like to fill the space instead with things that are measurable, achievable, and performance-based as an offering of what you can bring to the table. I tend to save the Objectives for very recent college graduates with little experience making their case for an entry level role.
4. In the “Education” section, for recent college graduates (considering “recent” to be 0-4 years post-college), I advise the “Education” section to be at the top of the resume. It sets the tone for the rest of the information to follow and reminds employers of what stage you are in your career. It makes a lot more sense for an applicant to only have 1 year of experience as an SDR selling a technology solution if they’ve only been out of college for 1 year, for example. For candidates that are further along and more established in their careers, “Education” can sit near the end of the resume after your “Experience” section. While displaying education is important, it doesn’t need to read at the top and set the tone as it would for someone who is applying for a job with less overall work experience.
5. For the “Professional Experience” section, each entry should read in reverse chronological order. In other words – your current or most recent job at the top, and the oldest position at the bottom. For Sales Professionals, this section of your resume should essentially resemble a stat sheet. Avoid using long, descriptive sentences and writing in paragraph form – it simply will not get read. Instead, focus the body of your experience under each company/position to highlight activities, performance-based metrics, and achievements.
Note: For sales reps, these entries can be things like your daily, weekly, and/or monthly activities (number of outbound prospecting calls per day, number of meetings/demos set or executed per week, number of net new deals closed per month, etc.). It should also include performance-based metrics (monthly quotas and performance to quota over time, quarterly or annual growth in your territory or book of business (revenue/percentage), etc. This is also a good place to put achievements including awards or any formal recognition that you’ve received from the company (Sales Rep of the Month, President’s Club, Rookie of the Year Award, etc.).
Note: “Track Record of Success” is one of the top components employers look for when hiring new sales reps to their team. Therefore, setting up your resume in such a way to reflect your measurable success is the best way to ensure that it is communicated effectively. Descriptions of what you do in that role are great, but your tangible results and achievements are far more important at this point.
6. References – Go ahead and remove these from the resume. Have your references compiled and ready with names, phone numbers and emails, but there isn’t a huge need to have them listed on your resume.