10 years ago
January 5, 2015

What to Look For in a Sales Resume

These tips can help you streamline your process for reading sales resumes to find the most qualified sales people.

Rhys Metler

Successfully reading and vetting a sales resume requires a talent for reading between and behind the lines, which can be difficult when there are numerous applicants for a select opening. Being able to read a sales resume means knowing what to look for in order to narrow down the candidate list. These tips can help you streamline your process for reading sales resumes to find the most qualified sales people.

A Sales Resume Should Be Professionally Presented

Even if a sales candidate has a strong background, you should not have to dig through a confusing or poorly presented resume to find this information. Remember, the presentation of a resume likely reflects the quality of work that a candidate will provide in emails, presentations, and other media. Review a sales resume for:

  • Overall presentation. Is the resume easy to follow, business appropriate?
  • Formatting. The two major formatting choices, chronological or functional, are both acceptable but either should be thorough without unexplained gaps in work history.
  • Professionalism. All grammar and spelling choices should be correct; jargon and slang should be avoided.

A Sales Resume Should Talk About the Numbers

In any industry, employers are looking for candidates who know that listing accomplishments, actions, and results is important. However, sales candidates should be able to differentiate themselves by discussing hard numbers instead of general statements such as ‘increased sales by a wide margin.’ Managers reading a sales resume should look for definitive numbers such as:

  • Increased organization’s market share X percent by increasing sales
  • Provided X revenue to company from X sales in one year
  • Closed and retained major repeat client representing an average of X in sales per year
  • Closed an average of X number of contracts with an average value of X per quarter

A Sales Resume Should Hit All of the Key Points

A candidate’s experience is more than the sum of his or her sales numbers and past responsibilities. Although most traditional resume formats devote the most space to this section, you should be looking through the sales resume for other information that might not be as in depth but is still important to your ultimate hiring choice, including:

  • Education, which may comprise traditional education as well as professional courses
  • Skills and tools, so that you know how familiar a candidate is with the duties he or she might be expected to perform
  • Professional memberships that show a candidate is well connected and making use of the possibilities in professional networks and associations

A Sales Resume Should Close You on the Candidate

In addition to being professional and containing a preview of what the sales candidate can actually sell in competitive situations, a sales resume should inform you about other things the candidate has done in order to differentiate him or herself from others with similar sales numbers. This could include awards or recognition, exceptional projects, or growth narratives that explain how a sales candidate has earned successively greater and deeper experience.

Should a Cover Letter Accompany a Sales Resume?

Cover letters can be a matter of contention between hiring managers. Some hiring managers specifically request that no cover letter be forwarded with a sales resume; in this case if a cover letter is included, the candidate may be automatically excluded. Other hiring managers like to have the additional information a cover letter can provide. At the same time, a well-written sales resume may negate the need for a cover letter. Making your preferences clear in your job description can help candidates form a better idea of what you expect.

If narrowing down what to look for on a sales resume seems overwhelming, get help reading between and behind the lines with an experienced sales recruiter on your side. Sales recruiters review sales resumes daily, which helps them spot a standout candidate quickly and can help you ensure that you fill your open position with the right sales professional.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.