Landing a sales job isn’t easy.
Each corporate job receives about 250 resumes on average, but only four to six applicants are shortlisted and invited to interview for the role. Depending on the position you’re applying for, you may be competing against hundreds of other candidates.
Take a few moments to think about your perfect job. You just know that if you get the chance to speak to the employer, they won’t be able to say “no.” But first, you need to get your CV or resume noticed.
When you apply for a role, you only have seven seconds to make an impression—that is, if your resume passes the ATS screening. Most employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan job applications and streamline the hiring process. Therefore, you need to make sure your resume is good enough to beat the bots and get you an interview.
Don’t fret, though. We’re here to help you out. Use these tips to nail your sales resume and stand out in a crowded job market.
Only include what’s relevant
As mentioned earlier, most recruiters and hiring managers spend seven seconds reading a CV. While it’s important to list your achievements, work experience, and other relevant information, you should always keep your CV short.
More than 90% of recruiters expect a CV to be no more than two pages long, revealed a Reed survey. Obviously, this may vary depending on your experience and the role you’re applying for. Academic CVs, for example, are usually longer.
Recruiters are not interested in your life story. If you’re applying for a sales position, it doesn’t make sense to mention the babysitting job you had when you were 16. Remember, you don’t need to include everything.
Note that U.S. employers have different guidelines for resumes and CVs. These terms are often used interchangeably in the UK and Europe in general. However, if you want a job in the U.S. or Canada, you will likely need to submit a resume. This document summarizes the information on your CV in no more than one or two pages.
Avoid clichés and buzzwords
A sales CV should be concise and specific. Refrain from using generic phrases like “Results-oriented salesperson with a track record of success,” said Austin Belcak, career coach and founder of Cultivated Culture, in a 2019 interview with Forbes.
Likewise, it’s best to avoid terms like “team-focused,” “go-getter,” “hard worker,” or “motivated.” For example, saying that you’re “highly motivated” does not provide any insight into your work ethic, accomplishments, or performance.
Similarly, the term “results-driven” is redundant on a CV. Organizations hire people because they expect them to do the job they are hired for.
If you’re trying to highlight your achievements, talk about a project you completed or come up with hard data, such as: “Over the past two years, I managed a team of 15 salespeople and generated X amount of revenue per year.” Let the numbers do the talking.
List your most significant results (backed up by stats) under each job you’ve held. Continue with a brief description of your role in that project.
Tailor your CV to the job description
Many job seekers submit the same CV or resume to every employer. This common mistake can hurt your chances of getting hired.
First of all, recruiters can easily tell when you’re sending a cookie-cutter resume. Some may think that you don’t care enough about the job to go the extra mile and customize your application.
Second, a generic sales CV is unlikely to pass the ATS screening.
About 90% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS to scan and filter job applications. If your CV doesn’t get past the bots, it might never be seen by a real person. In fact, more than 75% of candidates are rejected by these systems, reports Columbia University.
There is no way to guarantee that your CV will get past the ATS. However, you can increase your chances of success by following some simple rules.
Start by customizing your resume or CV for each role. Include keywords and phrases from the job description in your CV. For example, a sales CV may include terms like “account management,” “quota,” “negotiate,” “sales pipelines,” “cold calling,” or “lead generation,” depending on the job you’re applying for.
Use the exact job title that appears in the job description. If you’re applying for a role as a sales consultant but your CV includes a different job title (e.g.: “sales professional” or “sales specialist”), it may not pass the ATS screening.
Keep it simple
Applicant tracking systems cannot read fancy fonts, logos, tables, and other visuals. The same goes for the information in headers and footers. Also, most ATS don’t recognize less common fonts, abbreviations (e.g.: PMP), non-standard bullet points, and columns.
The bottom line is, keep your CV simple. While it’s perfectly fine to use circle- or square-shaped bullets, italics, and bold text, avoid fancy templates and custom fonts. Submit your CV in .doc or .docx format rather than PDF to make sure it gets past the ATS.
Columbia University recommends using standard section headers, such as Education and Skills. When you apply for a sales job online, take the time to complete all fields—even those that are not required. These simple things may increase your chances of passing the screening process.
Here’s another tip: use Jobscan, SkillSyncer, Resunate, and other automatic resume builders to optimize your CV for the ATS. Another great choice is ResyMatch, a free tool that analyzes your CV against the job description and highlights areas of improvement.
Define your unique selling proposition
Entrepreneurs use the term unique selling proposition (USP) to describe the one thing that sets them apart from the competition.
Dollar Shave Club, for instance, was the first company to deliver personalized grooming products. The Economist built its USP around storytelling rather than traditional journalism. WooCommerce takes pride in offering flexible eCommerce solutions for online businesses. Other companies focus on customer service excellence.
Think of yourself as a brand and then define your USP. What makes you stand out from other candidates? Why should a prospective employer choose you? What can you bring to the table that no one else can?
For example, someone who has been freelancing for years might be better able to manage their time, organize tasks, and work remotely than a traditional employee. The experience you have acquired as a self-employed could be a selling point on your CV. Highlight your ability to prospect clients, work independently, and generate business.
Cover the most important details on your resume or CV and then include a link to your website, LinkedIn page, or online portfolio. This would allow you to describe what makes you a good fit for the job and how your work experience sets you apart.
Take the next step in your career
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into writing a sales CV. You can’t just list a bunch of facts and expect to hear back from prospective employers. From word choice and spelling to formatting, every detail matters.
So, are you ready to take the next step in your career? Why not use the above tips to fine-tune your sales CV and then apply to join our team.