Top 10 Sales Resume Mistakes

As a company, we’ve reviewed hundreds of thousands of sales resumes. Most of these resumes contain fatal flaws that result in rejection. To help you avoid this, we’ve compiled our list of Top Ten Sales Resume Mistakes.

1. Failure to include annual sales accomplishments: % to quota, rankings and/or awards.

It’s critical to quantify and highlight your sales successes. Without these successes, you’re just another sales professional that worked at XYZ, inc. Employers want to see specific, numbers based results on your resume, not just words. For example,

  • “Grew business from $507k in 2019 to $1,053,000 in 2020”.
  • “Achieved 111% to quota, 2018.”
  • “President’s Club 2019”

Failing to include numbers-based results is one the worst of the sales resume mistakes you could make.

2. Using rounded numbers and non-specific accomplishments.

When it comes to important accomplishments, be specific. “133% of quota in 2018” has more impact and is more believable than “above quota during entire tenure”.

3. Listing skills that don’t apply to the position being applied to.

Take the time to match your resume to each position you apply for. This will allow you to highlight your work experience that directly relates to the job. You should also remove skills that might knock you out of contention for the position. An example would be listing Account Management skills when you are applying for a pure hunting, cold-calling role. 

4. Accomplishments listed at the end of the resume.

It’s common to see a resume with a summary of a sales professional’s accomplishments from their career listed at the bottom of their resume. There are two problems with this. 1. If the reader loses interest part-way through your resume, they’ll never see your accomplishments. 2. It can be difficult to figure out where each accomplishment occurred (which position). Remember this – if you confuse, you lose. The recruiter will move onto the next resume. Make it easy on overworked recruiters and hiring managers by listing your accomplishments directly below the position where they were earned. Use our Sample Sales Resume as a template.

5. Use of paragraph format vs. bullet point format.

For hiring managers and recruiters alike, resumes that are written in a paragraph format are extremely difficult to read. Resumes that list specific accomplishments and other relevant information via bullet points are infinitely easier to digest and understand.

6. Making the resume too long.

One page tops. Again, recruiters and hiring managers are overworked and overwhelmed with the number of resumes they have to look through. Don’t make it difficult for them to determine if you’re potentially a good fit for their job opening.

7. Not including all relevant contact information.

Make sure to include all relevant contact information (including email). If a recruiter is on the fence with you they may be unwilling to call you, for example. 

8. Failure to differentiate professional work experience from college experience.

No one wants to hire a job hopper. There are cases when a sales professional’s work history appears to be unstable due to positions held during college. If you are more than 10 years removed from graduation, these positions should be removed. If you aren’t, list your graduation date or clearly show that those positions were held during college.

9. Failure to show promotions.

Employers love to see upward progressions (promotions). Most resumes only list the highest position held with an employer. If you received promotions during your tenure be sure to list them by breaking out the previous roles held or by outlining the accomplishment(s) in a specific bullet point. For example:

  • Promoted 3x 

10. Employment status not current.

If you aren’t currently employed with the last position listed on your resume, make sure your resume does not say “xxxx to Present.” Managers or recruiters may feel that you are misleading them if this information is not up-to-date. Once they start questioning a specific point, they might start questioning everything.

You can find more tips on crafting a sales resume that sells at our Top Ten Sales Resume Tips.

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My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent.

We post a new blog once a quarter on the 3rd Thursday of every January, April, July and Oct. These posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at:
[email protected].