9 years ago
January 7, 2015

5 Sales Resume Mistakes to Avoid

A list of five common sales resume mistakes that could be holding you back from landing your dream sales job.

Rhys Metler

1. An objective at the top of a candidate’s resume that doesn’t specifically indicate what exactly he is looking for.

Always be clear about what responsibilities you expect to have in your next role. Are you a hunter who needs to be finding new business for your company? State that as part of your objective. Are you more adept at growing business within existing account? Let a hiring manager know that this is where you see yourself. A clearly defined objective shows a hiring manager or sales recruiter that you know where your skills lie, that you have the confidence to state your expectations about your next job and that you are serious about your next career move.


2. Lack of complete personal info at the top of the resume.

Landing your next great sales job depends on finding a great fit within an organization, so you should make it easy for hiring managers and recruiters to find you! Every salesperson knows how frustrating it can be to receive an inquiry from a prospect who leaves no contact information; that same frustration is felt by a hiring manager who has found a great candidate for their open role but is unsure of the candidate’s location or of how to best contact them. These details may not seem important when you are preparing your sales resume, but every hiring manager or recruiter who reads it will notice that they are missing.


3. Lots of qualitative information on the first page of a resume with no details given under specific positions.

Sometimes we see sales resumes where a candidate has listed her skills and achievements all at once on the first page followed by a list of the positions she has held. While it is a great idea to give a summary of your qualifications on the first page of your resume, it is difficult for a hiring manager or recruiter to understand the significance of your experience if it is presented without any context or point of reference. Be brief in presenting your skills up front then expand on those skills in detail when describing your responsibilities at the jobs you have held (more on that in the next few steps!).


4. No information given to describe what type of business a candidate’s employer is in.

The most common piece of resume advice I find myself giving candidates is to include a brief (one or two sentence) description of each company they have worked for. This description should indicate what industry a company is in, its value proposition and what kind of businesses or consumers are its main customers. This quick outline gives valuable context to a recruiter or hiring manager: they immediately have a better understand of the kind of calls you were making to prospects, the length of the sales cycle and the kinds of businesses you were calling on. All of this information is vital to a hiring manager’s decision and presenting your experience in context could be the difference in getting a call right away and not getting a call at all.


5. Lack of metrics showing a candidate’s percentage to target and/or incomplete metrics that expose a candidate’s lack of attention to detail.

Good sales professionals always know their numbers and so do good sales managers. This is why a candidate’s numbers and sales accomplishments will be the first thing a hiring manager looks for when reviewing a candidate’s sales resume, so be sure to post your sales numbers and any sales awards you may have received for each role on your resume. Additionally, posting only a few years’ percentages will raise unnecessary questions in a hiring manager’s mind. If you have successfully hit your targets for five years but only include your highest year’s number on your resume, a hiring manager or recruiter will wonder about the missing four years. Instead, write something like “100% to plan from 2005-2010, including 110% and 113% in 2007 and 2008”, as an example. This attention to detail when reporting your sales on your resume will assure a sales manager that you will have the same attention to detail should they choose your application for their sales job.


If you have made any of these mistakes on your own sales resume be sure to correct them, and click here to download a Sample Sales Resume to see what other changes you could make to land your next sales position. 


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.