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Top 10 Sales Resume Mistakes

As a group, we’ve collectively reviewed hundreds of thousands of sales resumes. To help our readers, we’ve turned this experience into 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. Otherwise you’re just another sales professional that worked at xyz, inc. Employers want to see numbers on your resume, not just words. For example,

  • “Grew business from $507k in 2010 to $1,053,000 in 2011”.
  • “Achieved 111% to quota, 2014.”
  • “President’s Club 2013”

Without question, this is the worst of the sales resume mistakes you could make.

2. Rounded numbers and generalities.

When it comes to important accomplishments, being specific is imperative. “133% of quota in 2012” is much more believable than “above quota during entire tenure”.

3. Accomplishments listed at the end of the resume.

We’re not sure how this got popular but 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’s 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). Make it easy on the recruiter or hiring manager and list your accomplishments with the position where they were earned. You can see a great example of this – here.

4. Use of personal pronouns within resume.

Example of what NOT to do:

“I work for a Fortune 500 company and my company is a leader in their field. I’ve achieved great success here in my current position and believe I can contribute greatly to an organization.”

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.

7. Not including all relevant contact information.

Make sure to include all relevant contact information (including email). This is one of the simpler sales resume mistakes that we’ve seen cost a sales professional a shot at a job.

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.

It’s common practice to list the highest position held with an employer. If you were promoted into that role be sure to show your career progress 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 all of your points.

You can find more tips on crafting a sales resume that sells at our Top Ten Sales Resume Tips. Also check out our list of sales interview questions to prepare before your interview.

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Chris Carlson

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. Our 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.

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