How to write your sales CV?


How to write your sales CV

There is only one task for a CV.

And that is to get you an interview.

No matter how good or bad your CV is, if it fails to accomplish this one objective, it has failed.

The key to success is to make it extremely easy for the employer to see why you are the ideal candidate for the role by underlining your relevant skills and experience.

Presentation, as always in sales, is very important in a sales CV, probably more than for any other job.

Candidates may claim in their CVs that they have great attention to detail and excellent communications skills, but if your CV is poorly presented, uses poor grammar or has any errors, this will not be believed by the employer.

Many candidate CVs include some or all of these mistakes, and are bound for rejection.

However, if your CV excludes these common errors, then you are far more likely to be shortlisted ahead of the competition.

CV mistakes to avoid

CV is too general Many candidates write a 'wide' CV because they believe they will be better off keeping their options open. This is not a successful strategy; employers want specialists for sale roles, not generalists who cover several roles/areas.

CV mistakes and errors I would estimate that 90%+ of CVs have errors, and these candidates are often rejected prior to interview. The market for sales professionals is extremely competitive today, and recruiters will often start the selection process by eliminating CVs that have mistakes or errors. Your CV must be flawlessly presented in order to demonstrate professionalism and attention to detail. Always ask someone else to check it over for you before submission.

Lack of relevant information Many candidates make erroneous assumptions about what candidate profile the employer is looking for, and therefore fail to provide relevant information in their CV. Carefully review the role description (if there is one), and research the company (use the company website, glassdoor.com, google and LinkedIn as a minimum). Then ensure that you demonstrate the specific skills, experience and expertise required on the first page of your CV, so the recruiter can quickly see your suitability.

Inadequate substantiation Claims need evidence to support them. You need to prove what you say. So instead of your CV stating you have 'good closing skills', you need to provide concrete examples of where you showed this skill. For example, you could highlight how you closed a sale to a prospective customer when your competitor was in the reception area ready for his customer meeting.

CV contains negative information Your CV should include only positive content. Do not censure a previous employer or colleague, whatever the situation. In extreme situations, only refer to a negative if you are able to demonstrate how you resolved the situation positively.

CV style Do not use jargon, abbreviations, awkward expressions or clichés in your CV. Instead of using the first person singular ('I'), for example ‘I did this, I did that', start bullet points with positive action words, e.g. 'Opened £20k prospect’, ‘Closed deal for 5,000 units in 4 weeks’. This active tense will make your CV appear much more dynamic, and give it an energetic outlook. This creates an impression that you are driving, positive, 'can-do' sales candidate.

Software problems If you apply online for a role, your CV is normally scanned automatically before the recruiter ever sees it. CV formatting like columns, shading, boxes and images may look good, but they will interfere with the software used to extract information from your CV. The key is to make your CV as plain as possible. If you put your CV into a CV database (e.g. Monster, Totaljobs, Indeed), recruiters use keywords to search through CVs, so ensure that your CV contains the particular skills and qualifications likely to be required.

CV things to do

Include a cover letter

Always provide a covering letter (or email) to go with your CV. It provides another opportunity to showcase your communication skills, and it gives another chance to convince the employer of your suitability.

Limit your CV to two pages

Certainly at the start of your career, you should only have a two page CV. Any longer than this and you are likely to be padding out, any less and you will have not provided enough information.

Research the role

Invest time to determine exactly what skills and experience the employer is looking for, and their priority, and then customise your CV to precisely match their requirements.

Provide evidence

Prove what an outstanding candidate you are by including examples of your sales achievements, awards won, activity rates or customer problems you solved.

Proof-read

Spell-check your CV, read it through carefully and scrupulously check your CV for errors. Read it through again the following day to ensure that what you have written makes sense. It is always a good idea to ask someone to double-check it for you before submitting.

CV things not to do

Rely on just one CV

Do not have just one CV. Every job is different, and your CV therefore needs to be customised for each role. You greatly increase your chance of interview selection if you invest the time to target your CV to the role you are applying for.

Be negative

Do not include any negative comments regarding your past or present employers, or mention any difficult phases in your career to date. You are applying for a sales role, and you need to position yourself as a positive person. Your CV needs to reinforce this by creating a very positive, energetic image.

Use ‘creative’ designs and layouts

Do not use any unusual fonts, formatting, images or tables when writing your CV. Clever formatting can easily become corrupted when read, or printed, by a recruiter.

Submit a MS WORD document as your CV

Your CV should be written and edited in MS WORD, but emailed to the recruiter as a PDF. This creates a more professional image, provides a document that cannot easily be edited, and reduces formatting errors when viewed or printed.

Attach a photo

Do not include a photo in your CV. This is irrelevant for sales roles.

Become discouraged

If your CV is not being shortlisted, give it to a friend or professional to review and check if it is compelling and matches the roles you are applying for. Critique by other people provides a more objective analysis of your CV, and highlights issues that you may not see as you are too close to the document detail.

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