With the rise and prominence of online jobs boards such as Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, etc., the incredible volume of resumes that a company can receive for a particular job can be utterly overwhelming. Because of this, employers have turned to sophisticated resume tracking databases that receive the incoming resumes and filter them based on keyword matches. To give some perspective, Microsoft receives approximately 6,000 resumes each day!! Obviously, knowing how and which sales resume keywords to use can make the difference between receiving an interview and getting lost in the resume black hole of your desired employer’s database.
So how can job seekers figure out which keywords employers are searching for? To begin with, most keywords are nouns that relate to the skills and experience the employer is looking for in a candidate. Keywords can be job, profession or industry specific skills, specific terms or descriptions of technical expertise, job titles, certifications, names of products and services, industry buzzwords and jargon, degrees attained, names of colleges, company names, and area codes. Yes, that’s a lot. The database filters are meant to narrow down the field by geography and potential resume fit without losing potential matches. With that in mind, make sure you list the city you want to work in as opposed to where you are presently living if you are relocating.
It does add work but you will want to build at least two versions of your resume. One will be a one-page and results-oriented that you will when you are confident that it will be consumed by a human (Sample Sales Resume here). The second will be the resume you use when applying via or posting on one of the career job boards. Before you add keywords to this second resume, compile a list of keywords by reviewing job ads that are of interest to you. Look for skills, titles, degrees and words that would be particular to that job. It might be obvious, but if you want a position in pharmaceutical sales or medical sales put that in an objective. If you want to work at a specific company, such as Microsoft, and you sold to one of their competitors put that on your resume. You can be pretty sure that they would use their competitors as one of their keywords.
Once you have an idea what sales resume keywords you want to use there are a number of ways to insert them into your resume. A simple way is to create a section called “Keywords” or “Keyword Summary” and list your keywords directly after that. Put this section at the very bottom of your resume. A more appropriate way is to place keywords throughout your resume where appropriate. For example, “Closed $1.2m deal with Microsoft.” Microsoft is the keyword in that sentence. We don’t suggest building a different resume for every single job applied for. We do suggest building a company specific resume when you are applying to companies that are at the top of your list.
Once the applicant-search software finds a keyword, it ranks them according to the importance of the word to the job. Some keywords might be required and others might be considered desirable. Typically, the keywords on your resume are weighted by how many times they appear on your resume. You want to have more of the keywords that they look for and multiple occurrences for each individual keyword. Shoot for a total of 25-35 keywords and make sure that those words that you consider most important for your resume appear more than once. When posting your resume on Internet job boards, avoid keywords that relate to sales jobs that don’t interest you. If you have had enough of cold-calling don’t list that skill ten times. Instead, pull out your account management experience in your resume.
Good luck refining your sales resume keywords and we hope that it helps you land the sales job of your dreams.