Research shows that the average recruiter spends less than 6 seconds scanning a resume before making a “fit / no fit” decision. Six seconds! The takeaway from this research is clear. Avoid anything that makes it more difficult for a recruiter or hiring manager to review your resume. Rather than going for clever or exhaustive; go for clean, readable and impactful. In other words, what you leave off of your resume can be as important as what you put on. As the pace of recruiting has been increasing, I thought it was important to write a sales resume guide about what NOT to put on your resume. Here are my 4 tips:
I recommend not using an Objective on your resume in most cases. Why? It rarely helps to differentiate you as a candidate but it can immediately knock you out of consideration. True story. One of my better hires almost didn’t happen due to the objective on his resume. “To utilize my sales experience to secure a medical sales position.” Since he wasn’t interviewing for a medical sales role, the Sales Manager decided to pass on him despite being impressed during the interview. Three weeks, several interviews and no solid candidates later I convinced the Sales Manager to reconsider. Nine years and multiple President’s Clubs later my candidate is still working for my client.
In close to 20 years of sales recruiting I have zero examples of a client asking to interview someone based on the Objective on their resume. Having noted that, are there exceptions to this rule? There is and we go into one in this post – Sales Resume Keywords. The second case is when you are applying for a position that your resume doesn’t automatically align with. It’s a long shot that you’ll get noticed but an Objective may help.
Tasks and Duties.
The following are 2 bullet points from a sales resume in our database:
- Responsible for identifying key business opportunities in my territory
- Daily customer contact with excellent customer service
Isn’t it obvious that a sales rep identifies business opportunities and maintains daily customer contact? Leave tasks or duties off of your resume unless they help you qualify for the position you are applying for. Here’s an example where listing a duty helps:
- Led a team of 10 new client generating account executives.
This experience would be extremely pertinent if you are applying for a Sales Manager role leading a team of hunter sales reps.
Don’t give employers a reason to knock you out of consideration before they’ve met you. For example, you might think that it’s a positive that you’re married with two children. The Sales Manager, on the other hand, might question whether you would want to travel 35% of the time. Yes, I’ve heard this exact feedback from managers countless times.
Anything More Than One Page.
Especially in sales, how could you possibly need more than one page to summarize your accomplishments? Remember, you have 6 seconds to get noticed. Limit the experience listed on your resume to the past 10 years. The lone exception is when prior experience could prove extremely valuable to your potential employer.
Sales Resume Guide – What Sells?
If you want more sales resume guide tips on how to write a sales resume that sells you can find more resources on our website: Top Ten Resume Tips, Top 10 Resume Mistakes and a Sample Sales Resume. I’ll close with two advanced tips:
- A well-written resume shouldn’t answer every question a potential employer has about you. It should create enough interest and intrigue so that they will want to meet you to get their answers.
- “Nothing sells like success.” Make your successes (blatantly) easy to find on your resume.