There is no right or wrong way to write your sales CV, but there are some things you should be doing so that you increase your response rate from sales recruiters and employers alike. We have put our suggestions below using our wealth of experience in these matters. I guarantee that if you put these things into practice you will triple your response rate (as a minimum) and increase your chances of securing that sales position!
Here, we are focusing on how to introduce yourself in your CV, communicate your experience by mentioning what we as recruiters want to hear about, plus other small titbits that you should be doing.
A lot of job sites will ask you to fill in a ‘contact details’ section that will be sent along with your CV when you make an application. However, it is always important to include a small section below your name with your mobile number, home address, and email address. It sounds obvious right? But you would be amazed how many CVs do not include this. You are basically telling the hiring manager to contact your competition first.
Keep your introduction short and to the point. How would you describe yourself as a sales professional? What are your main strengths, what are you looking for? Be careful, an employer can easily dismiss your CV if you state you are looking for a specific type of sales role. Example:
“Highly ambitious, polished and presentable new business hunter with a proven track record of pitching to C-Level Executives. Open to new sales opportunities that reward hard work and can offer career progression”
Listing Key Skills
This can be more important than you think and you should include this just underneath the introduction. Telling the world what type of sales person you are in this section can help attract the roles you are looking for. Think of it from the mind set of an employer or recruiter – we spend our days searching for candidates with particular sets of skills. If my client is seeking a consultative sales person with experience in tendering or presentations, then these are some of the key words we will use when searching the job boards. Therefore, by including this, you will ensure that your details are placed towards the top of a candidate search:
• Consultative Sales • Pitching to C-Level
• Strong Negotiation Skills • Tendering Experience
• New Business Development • Management Experience
• Account Management Skills • Languages – English, German
Job History – start with most recent first
This is what every recruiter and employer will be drawn to first, and will determine whether or not a lot of them will continue reading. In order to keep them interested, they need to understand clearly what you do, and how you do it. I have seen candidates on numerous occasions not explain what their company does when it is not obvious. This can be a massive turn off when it should be the point to generate interest.
You should also include a short description of your role. Most sales recruiters and employers need to see how new business and account management is split, the type of markets you are selling into, and typical average order values. These are questions that recruiters will ask you. When the information is already there on paper you might find more sales recruiters are willing to pick up the phone and speak to you!
Most importantly, include your sales targets and achievements as this is what a lot of employers will need to find out. If you have overachieved on sales targets, then you should be including these figures. Finally, because you have done well in the role maybe you have some achievements that stand you out as ‘the one’! For example…
ABC Ltd, Business Development Manager, January 2014-present
ABC Ltd are the world’s leading providers of accountancy software that is used by firms in the UK and around the world. As BDM I have been involved in winning new business, maintaining key accounts, while also managing 2 internal sales managers.
Sales Targets (revenue) Sales Achievements
Y1 £550k £625k
Y2 £650k £718k
Y3 £700k £400k (120% YTD)
Ranked #1 out of 20 in 2015
Presidents Club Winner 2015
Then repeat the above for all other positions.
Should your qualifications be put before your job history or after? It doesn’t matter. If you have a degree, or higher vocational qualifications that would be relevant for your industry then they need to be mentioned. Again, these would potentially be key words that a recruiter would use in candidate searches on the job boards. However, the point is if you do the introduction and job history right then you will have the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager. They will scroll down to see your qualifications if these are at the end of your CV. You should place your highest qualifications first and unless you are a young grad with no sales experience, then you don’t need to mention GCSEs/A-Level results if your highest qualification is an Undergraduate degree.
Personal Interests / Hobbies
Why can it be important to still mention these things? The better recruiters will ask you more questions about your background and hobbies so that they can get a better understanding of you as a person. This is important to see how your personality could fit with the rest of the sales team. It is therefore always good to write a short paragraph about what interests you, hobbies, achievements. You will find that the better recruiters out there will more often than not be recruiting for the better positions.
How long should your CV be?
When I was younger, I was always told to keep your CV to a maximum of 2 pages. This is simply not true. I have seen some very good CVs being 3 or 4 pages in length, and also some very good ones being only a page long! The point here is that you should not make your introduction, job history, education text heavy. When you are writing your CV keep asking yourself whether you would get bored reading it. If the answer is yes, then you may want to try simplifying it.
Your CV is a synopsis of you and your career. With this in mind, you cannot list and comment on every detail. Remember, for a sales person your targets and achievements, examples of key wins and order values should be the main focus of your experience.
You don’t need to put contact details for referees on your CV, and don't ever do this if you do not have the permission of the referee. You simply just need to put at the end of your CV “References available upon request”.
How should I present my CV?
KEEP IT SIMPLE! All you need is a Word document and a professional font. Don’t over complicate the design and layout with boxes, columns, and colours. While you may think it looks good, you are not going for a Graphic Design job where showing a more creative side could stand you in good stead.
Furthermore, when you upload your CV to the main job boards it can mess around the format of a CV that has complicated boxes and designs embedded within it. It sounds boring, but Times New Roman or Arial all the way!
Get a 2nd pair of eyes to proof read your CV
Spotting a spelling or grammar mistake is a big turn off for recruiters and employers. If you make a mistake in something as important as a CV it only tells the hiring manager that you would do the same in an email to a key client.
Even if you believe you have the most proficient English language skills it is always good to get a 2nd pair of eyes to have a quick read. I have written reports and presentations before where I have tripled checked it for errors, only for someone else to spot a mistake within a minute of reading it. It happens! Get someone you know to have a quick read, and be open to hearing their recommendations or suggestions. You don’t need to do what they tell you, but sometimes they might think of something that you didn’t.
Back to Tips and Advice
For more information on this and other tutorials, please visit our MDs LinkedIn page for a full list of articles
Writing the best CV