5 Fatal Sales Resume Mistakes To Avoid

Aka ” the 5 Dont’s “

Once I had read the book how to write a killer sales resume I quickly revised my sales resume so that it was up to the task of getting me my sales interviews. The process I remember was actually a bit embarrassing since I soon realized that there were a lot basic mistakes that I’d been making over the years – so it was no wonder I was having problems getting sales interviews!

Here are the top mistakes that you don’t want to make:

Mistake 1 – Failure To Format Correctly

What are the resume options, which one to use, and what information to put in it?

The Chronological Resume Format is the most commonly used resume format and is the format most preferred by recruiters / employers.

It is straightforward to read (and put together) since it traces a candidate’s career path and progression in a given field in sequence. In this format, experience and accomplishments are listed in reverse ‘chronological’ order – with the most recent job positioned first.

The Chronological format looks like this:

1. Header
2. Personal Statement OR Executive Profile*
3. Professional Experience
4. Qualifications & Training
5. Awards
6. Affiliations
7. Keywords

*The Personal Statement / Executive Profile have slightly different formats and it depends upon the level of the position of that is being applied for. Essentially it’s one format for entry level personnel or non-executive sales positions and another for experienced personnel and executive positions.

Mistake 2 – Using a Generic Resume When You Should be Using a Targeted Resume

The two kinds of resume; when to use each type; when and how to target a vacancy.

I imagine that this can be very frustrating for employers recruiting: someone sends in their resume which is clearly a generic one-size-fits-all resume. A resume like this has some useful information about it, but because it’s general and it doesn’t directly address the vacancy.

This how it pans out for an employer who is reading such a resume:

The sales resume does not match their skills and experience to what is required. They make the employer work really hard to find out if they ‘might’ be a suitable candidate. If they can’t be bothered to make the effort to properly sell themselves to the employer, then are they serious? Should the employer be bothered to spend time searching for clues to the possibility that they may be an ideal candidate? Probably not.

By just applying a few simple steps then us candidates can so easily, match our career experience, qualifications and so on to the vacancy!

Mistake 3 – A Hopeless Resume Headline

The Resume Headline is very important, it is the 2nd piece of information that a reviewer will read about you (the 1st piece of information being your Name at the Resume Header). The headline is where you express in just a few words what you are and what you bring to the table. You tell an employer in a few succinct words what you can do for them and why they should even read any more of your resume.

If you get this wrong – as most people do – then there is a greater than 50% chance that you’ll condemn your resume to the waste basket.

Mistake 4 – Failure To Sell Yourself

It’s surprising how many sales people are cagey or modest (or ignorant) about their achievements. An employer wants to know (needs to know) in no uncertain terms that the candidate can deliver results!

Demonstrating to a reviewer that they have a track record in delivering growth and sales is a cinch. There are two or three key tactics that I learnt from the book that employers identify with that conveys in no uncertain terms that the candidate is a good (an ‘ideal’) sales person.

– After all, if you can’t sell yourself, then what hope do you have to sell their product / service?

Mistake 5 – Failure to Keep the Resume on Topic

The tendency that a lot of people have to wander off track and to include irrelevant information in the sales resume. Stay ‘on radar’ and keep the reader engaged, rather than bored.

This point can be a natural consequence of point 1) and 2) above. If a resume is so general that it can be used for a range of different sales positions or EVEN WORSE for a range of different types of jobs then the resume will be vague and will appear unclear and unfocussed.

It conveys the view either a) the candidate is probably casting around for any job in any company and / or b) the candidate simply cannot be bothered to make the effort to impress the employer.

Your sales resume needs to be properly constructed, lean and focused.


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