Writing a Sales Resume With the Hiring Manager in Mind

Let’s tackle the subject of what hiring managers (HR, Sales Managers, Vice Presidents, recruiters, etc.) look for in a resume. Like with many things, there are a lot of opinions on the subject. Our approach to resume writing goes back to one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Priniciples of Highly Successful People – “Begin with the end in mind.” The main objective of a resume is to secure an interview with companies and/or recruiters (hiring managers) that interest you. To understand just what appeals to this audience let’s look at the resume from the hiring manager’s point of view.

Receiving yet another resume is not the high point of the day for most hiring managers and/or recruiters. Most are overwhelmed with resumes from potential sales reps when they begin their search for the perfect candidate. Here at Sales Talent our sales recruiters usually receive over 100 resumes/day. Less than 5% of these will result in an actual phone interview. I bring this up because it is important to realize that the first criteria for a good resume is to have clearly stated accomplishments and skills. If you have made it difficult to understand what you have done, buried your skills and/or accomplishments in unnecessary verbiage or failed to show performance your resume will quickly be set to the side. To put it another way, write your resume in such a way that someone with ADD could get it. An exception to this rule would be when applying for highly technical sales positions. Since these roles require a high degree of attention to detail, most hiring managers in these fields will look for this.

Let’s move on to content. When looking at a resume, the first thing that hiring managers want to see is sales performance. You are interviewing for a sales job so what have you managed to sell? Show % of quota sold, list large accounts that you have sold, rankings, promotions, awards, etc. If you work for an unknown company, give a short description of the product that you sold and who you sold it to (size of companies, title of people sold to, size of deals). To sum up, this is not about what you have done but how well you have done it.

We do encourage you to tailor your resume to a particular position or company if you know what skills and requirements will be needed. For example, if you are applying for an account management position handling 20 large accounts; don’t highlight your cold-calling sales experience. Look at your background and find the experience that transfers to the position that you are applying for. Another tip is to write your resume to appeal to the type of position that you want to get. If you are more open, then stick to emphasizing your sales performance.

As far as the format of a good resume we have seen several different styles that work well. Keep the resume to one page and use bullet points to emphasize your accomplishments. We do not recommend separately outlining skills onyour resume. Certain qualities, such as communications skills, need to be demonstrated in person during the interview.

To summarize, write your resume for your intended audience, emphasize results and keep the look clean and readable. Good luck with your search!