For those without sales experience, the interview is the ultimate test. Since you can’t fall on an extensive background in your sales resume, you have to turn on the charm and sell yourself to get your foot in the door.
That’s often easier said than done, but it’s completely doable.
For those with sales experience, you’re equally pressed to put on a good show, but you’ll also get asked tougher questions about your personality, skills, and performance. Landing your dream job requires nailing the interview, but before you get that opportunity, you’ll need a stellar sales resume to get to that step of the hiring process.
The majority of sales resumes will include some combination of personal information, work experience, education, and skills. The great ones will include a personalized cover letter with a clear objective as well.
Some essential qualities of a truly great sales resume include:
Another key trait of a great sales resume is that they’re typically short. One page is sufficient—two max.
If you’re not familiar with an applicant tracking system (ATS), it’s a type of human resources software that functions as a CRM for job applicants. A whopping 99% of Fortune 500 companies use them to organize their applicants and communicate with large groups of people.
In essence, the ATS exists to make it easier for hiring managers and recruiters to do their job. The ATS helps identify the best resumes and simultaneously eliminate the worst resumes with flagging or auto-rejecting. It’ll do that by scanning for keywords used in the job posting related to experiences, location, skills, work experience, or even former employers. It’ll also provide a ranking for the top resumes, so the recruiters don’t have to manually scan each resume.
Here’s yet another crucial reason you should read the job description thoroughly and apply the same phrases and keywords to your resume.
In total, 92% of employers believe soft skills are just as important as technical or hard skills. The best candidates find a healthy balance of both skills on their resumes.
Hard skills are the technical abilities learned from experience, academic institutions, and training courses. They’re often role-specific and are easily transferable between roles. Such skills include prospecting, policy knowledge, contract negotiation, software experience, and closing skills.
Soft skills are informal abilities that people learn over their lifetime and are unrelated to their technical aptitude. Relationship-building is a major soft skill in the sales world. Time management and problem-solving skills are big too. Knowing when to be quiet and listen is a soft skill, and so is storytelling.
Employment details are imperative because they can give your resume the weight it needs to get your foot in the door. Sometimes the previous companies you’ve worked for alone will help create opportunities since they have a strong reputation. Other times it’s the type of role you held and the skills you exercised there.
At a minimum, your employment details should include:
It also never hurts to include details like your average sales cycle length and what types of people you targeted. The details matter more than you think, which is why it never hurts to get detailed here. If you find yourself running out of space, consider ditching job descriptions that don’t build your sales resume specifically. Just be prepared to list any “gaps” since they may come up.
Winning your dream job really boils down to showing you’re a closer. If you can prove that you crush any goals put in front of you and that you’ll be an asset from day one, then companies would be foolish not to hire you on the spot. The best way to display such qualifications is by displaying your sales metrics and accomplishments from previous companies.
Here are some examples of what sales metrics you should include:
The idea here is to show one of two things — relentlessness or achievement. If you don’t have the great sales numbers to round out your resume, then you’ll want to at least show you’re a hustler because that’s also a desirable trait for top sales teams.
Without sales experience, you really have to nail the small stuff to leave a good impression. Your resume should absolutely be customized to the job description, and your cover letter should evoke an emotional response.
Ideally, you’d find a way to add personality to your delivery, so you stand out from the competition. A great way to do that is with a supreme offering of confidence. Say things like, “You’ll never find someone as hardworking as me,” or, “I’m a quick learner, and I never back down from a challenge.” Talk about how you’ll enhance their culture and bring positivity and enthusiasm to the workplace.
You’ll also need to lean harder on your education. If you learned marketing techniques in school or did mock debates, that needs to be on there. Any communication classes should get a highlight as well. Find any semblance of “sales” that you can lean on, whether it’s doing fundraisers for your college hockey team or negotiating discounts for the charity organization you volunteer at.
Now that you have a firm grip on what your resume should include, it’s time to go over a handful of examples that’ll hopefully inspire you. None of these are perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they act as a guiding point to what could be a “perfect” sales resume. Or at least ballpark perfect with a few tweaks.
Here are sales resume examples for the sales development, account executive, and sales manager roles:
Naturally, we’ll start at the beginning with the sales development rep (SDR) role. It requires little to no experience and is a critical role within any sales organization. At its core, a sales development rep’s job boils down to garnering interest in your company’s products or services.
They’re an inside sales rep meaning they work internally through sending emails and making outbound calls to potential leads. Their chief responsibilities revolve around moving leads through various qualification stages down your sales funnel and ultimately setting appointments.
Above is an example of a great sales development rep resume complete with experience, education, and skills. Let’s break it down section by section:
The header places emphasis on the individual, including details around location and contact information. It’s a standard placement that looks both tidy and professional.
It then proceeds to list out relevant sales experience in reverse-chronological order, which is the preferred method. Most people move up in their careers, which is why placing your most recent job at the top is important. If hiring managers end up skimming your resume, it’ll naturally show your greatest achievement up top, which will catch their attention and get them to keep reading.
The experience itself is highly relevant since they worked as an SDR for three different companies in the span of seven years. It’s keyword-rich, which will help if their dream job uses an ATS system. Words and phrases like CRM, customer satisfaction, campaign execution, sales pipeline, securing meetings, and executing targeted prospecting campaigns will likely stand out in a good way.
The education section has proper placement and happens to coincide with the technical knowledge needed for the role. Finally, the skills section has an excellent balance of both hard and soft skills that sales teams are actively seeking. This resume definitely demonstrates a strong background that would warrant interviewing. To make it even better, the applicant should include the company names for the three roles to possibly give her experience more weight. It’d also be good to see some specific performance metrics that demonstrate their value to the previous companies.
An account executive is another vital role in any thriving sales organization because they’re the ones closing deals and maintaining relationships. The sales development rep gets a prospect interested enough for an initial meeting or sales demo. The account executive takes over to nurture that lead, move them further down the sales funnel, and hopefully make the sale.
Account executives are closers, but more than that, they’re helping existing clients continue to see value in the products or services they purchased so they remain a customer and bring in more revenue for the business in the long term. Unlike their SDR counterparts, the account executive role typically requires some prior experience in the role or at the very least some previous SDR experience.
Yet again, the structure of the sales resume is sound for the above account executive example. It’s skimmable thanks to the headings, and the blue color helps draw focus to the important areas.
A thoughtful addition to this resume is the summary statement up top beneath his title. It clearly sums up who he is, what he’s accomplished, and what he’ll bring to the table. Not every resume has this, which makes it stand out from the competition, and having it at the top catches the reader’s attention right away.
The work experience section feels concise but targeted simultaneously. There’s no fluff whatsoever, and each bullet point includes some sort of number, whether it be a performance metric, activity metric, or result-based metric. Each number gives his resume weight because the hiring manager has tangible numbers to point to as a potential indicator of future performance.
The skills and education sections are tucked off to the side, which is a strange way that makes them stand out more. The relevancy of the education is a plus, and so is calling out his greater than average performance. Where this resume is lacking is in the skills section. There’s plenty of white space available, and the candidate chose some fairly generic skills to fall back on, like PowerPoint proficiency and multi-tasking.
Sales managers aren’t the top dogs of a sales organization, but they are the backbone. They may still report to a sales director or vice president of sales, but their roles still affect frontline performance in a big way.
At their core, sales managers lead and guide teams of salespeople by setting goals, quotas, and sales territories. They’ll also help build a sales plan and analyze performance and adherence to said plan. Finally, they mentor and coach salespeople to improve individual performance. It’s rather rare for someone to walk off the street into a sales management role without prior experience being one. Since that’s typically the case, they tend to have a more impressive resume, skills, and experience-wise.
Once again, this resume has a clean layout that makes it easily skimmable. It uses headers, lines, and color to highlight the important sections and does a great job of drawing attention to some of the impressive companies David worked at previously.
Rather than leading with a large block of text, David’s resume begins with six summary points that provide a line of reasoning as to who he is, what he’s accomplished, and what to expect from him in the future. It reads a little jargon-rich at times, but he gets his point across.
In the work experience section, David finds a nice balance between letting people know what his responsibilities were day-to-day and what he helped the company achieve. What makes his resume so strong isn’t necessarily the responsibilities, but the performance metrics and the companies he worked at, which have a strong reputation.
The biggest thing missing from David’s resume is a skills section. He alludes to several skills in the individual bullet points for each role, but they don’t stand out in any way, which makes recruiters have to dig for them.
Think of your sales resume and cover letter as your first pitch. It’s the first impression that earns the right to get a meeting and show the world what you can do. The only difference between selling and creating a resume is your seeking employment over a sale. You’re just selling yourself instead.
Much like a real sales position, you’ll have to deal with a fair amount of rejection. With every non-response or “no” you get comes the opportunity to tweak your approach. Seek feedback, try fresh tactics, or stick to the plan and trust your approach.