How to Create The Perfect Sales Resume
The first step to getting a high paying sales job is the perfect resume. The resume, or curriculum vitae (CV) if you want to be fancy, is what our species has collectively chosen as its preferred method of communicating job experience. This simple and unbelievably boring little document is the first thing any potential employer will use to learn about you, which is great, considering you are in complete control of what goes on your resume. Take a look at the example of my resume on the next page. You will be using it as your resume template.
My resume is simple, clean and effectively translates my work experience to an employer. In sales, communication and brevity are key, so my resume reflects that. My resume has been designed for the sole purpose of getting me a job. Nothing else. Almost every word on my resume is there because it’s a buzz word that an employment search engine such as Indeed, Monster or ZipRecruiter would recognize and therefore move me to the top of a candidate list on any potential job I apply to. Notice the picture as well. We humans are social primates, and like all animals, we are instinctively wired to trust people whose faces we are familiar with more than some faceless name on a page. When I apply to a job with this resume, I almost always get an interview. I created it with 9 easy steps that we will go over now.
Step 1 - Headshot
Have a friend take a picture of you in portrait mode. Make sure you are dressed in business or business casual clothing, be well groomed, smile and make sure your face is the most prominent part of the picture. If you pay for a headshot don’t spend any more than $75.00 on your headshot. An expensive headshot is not always an effective headshot.
Step 2 - Google Docs
Open up google docs. If you don’t have google docs, all you need to do is make a free Gmail account and then click the app menu icon (9 square boxes) at the top right corner of the screen of Google.com or your Gmail homepage and then scroll down to the blue Docs icon. From there select the “blank” document icon at the top left of the screen. (If you need help making a Google account, please click here for a step by step guide.)
Step 3 - Download My Resume and Make a Copy
Download here and then make a copy. You will not be able to edit until you have made a copy.
Step 4 - Paste Your Pic
Click on that picture of me and delete it. Then copy and paste your headshot in the exact spot where mine had been. You will likely need to adjust the size of your image which will screw with the formatting a little, but don’t worry about it. Just adjust as best you can.
Step 5 - Contact Info & Name
At the very top of the resume where it says my name in bold and “Sales & Marketing” underneath, change my name to yours and leave Sales & Marketing. Afterwards, change all of the contact info underneath your picture to reflect your information. Stop when you get to the section that reads, “Profile”.
Step 6: Profile
“Ben is a New Jersey native who works to obtain excellence in all of his professional pursuits.”
Now head to the paragraph under “Profile” where I give my spiel. Read over it twice and don’t delete it. Under the profile section delete my name and type your own in. then, read over the first sentence of my profile. Notice it is literally just a brief introduction of my basic info such as where I’m from and then conveys that I am dedicated to excellence in my career. Simply replace my place of origin with your place of origin. Leave everything else as is in the first sentence of your profile. We’ll tackle the second part of the profile momentarily. Read over the below examples of part 1 of the profile and write yours before moving onto part two.
Profile Sentence One Examples -
- “Sara is a DC native and recent graduate who is determined to obtain a career in sales with an innovative company.”
- “Brendon is a 21 year old Hoosier who is determined to take his career to the next level in the world of saas sales.”
- “Jessica is a Bostonian who is determined to use her proven communication ability to dominate her next position.
Now look to the second sentence of my profile.
“Ben has consistently been a top performing sales professional in both his current, as well as his previous job and is excited to continue that success in his next pursuit.”
The message here that I’m conveying is that I am currently a top performer and I will continue to be in my next job. That’s exactly what an employer wants to read. As with part one of the profile, swap out my wording and replace it with your own where necessary. After the part of the sentence that reads “been a top performer…” You are writing down your top one or two pursuits that would compel someone to hire you. These can be anything that pertains to the career type you’re going for. If you’re coming straight out of college, it’s fine to write “has consistently been a top performing student.” Even if you weren’t. If you have worked any job ever, waiting tables for example, it would be best to include this and write something along the lines of “has consistently been the top performing waiter at Terry’s Diner and has maintained a high GPA at his university through a diverse field of study.”
If you have worked any one job requiring a degree, go in the following direction; “Denis has consistently been a top performing human resources professional in his current role and is excited to continue that success in his next pursuit.” If you have two or more previous jobs behind you only go so far as “has consistently been a top performing human resources professional in his current, as well as his previous role and is excited to continue that success in his next pursuit.…”
Profile Sentence Two Examples -
- “Sara has consistently been a top performing student in the University of Maryland and is excited to continue her success in her next pursuit.”
- “Brendan has consistently been the top performing waiter at Terry’s Diner and has maintained a high GPA at his university through an intense field of study. He is excited to continue his success in his next pursuit. “
- “Jessica has consistently been a recognized top performer in both her previous role as an executive assistant as well her current role as a branch manager at Enterprise Rent A Car. She is excited to continue her success in her next role.”
Side note - If you don’t consider yourself a top performer (or legitimately aren’t one) I have two pieces of advice - A) you should start to consider yourself one right now because going through life believing you’re mediocre or shitty is a recipe for misery and, B) Write down that you’re a top performer anyway, it’ll feel good.
Step 6 Part Three: Skills
Now scroll just below the profile section to the section that reads “skills”. These are just general abilities that you have which are valuable but might not necessarily reflect on the rest of your resume. List all useful software programs you’re proficient in, languages you speak other than English, admirable qualities such as leadership, specific writing styles you’re adept in and anything else you think an employer may find valuable. If you're accomplished in any particular extracurricular activity such as martial arts, athletics or anything you consider impressive, end with that; (Captain of Championship Winning Football Team, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, Debate Team Captain, Accomplished Chess Player, Etc). Often this last bit is the most intriguing bit on your resume. If you close the skills section with something such as “world champion grappler”, you’ll have hiring managers calling simply because they want to hear more about your accomplishments. Great way to get your foot in the door.
Step 8 - Experience
Now let’s head to the most important section of them all; experience. It is here that you will list your past endeavors and what you accomplished in each pursuit. But before we dive in, notice what’s missing on my resume that every other resume you have ever seen has - dates. I put absolutely no dates regarding when I began work or when it ended. This is very much intentional. Dates provide nothing but an unnecessary distraction to whomever happens to be looking over your resume. What does the amount of time you have worked in a particular organisation say about your accomplishment in that particular sphere? Nothing. An employer doesn’t need to know that I only worked for O’Hanlon, McCollom & Demerath for a few months, but they should definitely know that I had a lead conversion rate of 77%.
When listing your experience on your resume it is important to prioritize. If you have any work experience at all, including internships, list that before your education no matter how prestigious your school is. Sales managers don’t care whether or not you went to Harvard or your local city college, they are primarily concerned with your demonstrated skills that you can bring to their team. Only list three jobs or internships at most. This will keep your resume concise, easy to read and ensure you are only listing relevant selling points instead of giving your life story.
When writing your experience remember, ANY experience is great experience!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. Too often people, especially recent graduates, don’t list their college jobs working fast food joints, selling concert tickets or whatever menial labor they happened to do because they don’t think it adds any value, or worse, they're embarrassed. Never be embarrassed about that McDonalds’esq job you hated. Rep it. The best experience is often the most brutal and seemingly shitty at the time.
Turning Unimpressive Jobs You Hated Into Resume Gold
Let’s look at several examples of crummy job descriptions on resumes by college seniors of their even crummier jobs. The first job description we will look at comes straight off of the pitiful resume I was using to apply to jobs at the tail end of my senior year of college.
Subpar Job Description 1
Ticket Sales Rep
Viva Italia Tours- April 2013 - May 2015
- Solicited tourists outside the Roman Colosseum in order to secure ticket sales.
- Successfully sold a wide variety tour packages.
What you just read was the primary experience on my resume immediately upon graduating college. I got zero interviews and it’s no surprise, the job description sucks. It describes nothing more than the menial task of soliciting tourists for colosseum tours. A monkey could do that job. It was only after I really thought about what it was I was actually doing as a Ticket Sales Rep (sales) and how I could stretch the job description to the broadest possible terms in order to make my menial job of Ticket Sales Rep look as impressive on paper as any job in a fortune 500 company. After I wrote my new job description I was reliably generating interview requests every time I sat down to apply to jobs. Let’s take a look at my reimagined job description and then we’ll walk through how I wrote it.
Reimagined Job Description 1
Ticket Sales Representative
Viva Italia Tours
- Achieved over $15,000 in ticket sales
- Top sales numbers for four months running
- Increased company wide revenue by 32% per week by identifying lower competition locations with higher foot traffic for company sales reps to solicit.
- Recognized by management on several occasions for consistently improving my sales numbers
At a glance, you probably are thinking that everything I wrote under my reimagined description of my time as a ticket sales rep is complete and utter BS. You’d be partially right under that assumption, but not completely - I bent a version of the truth to my advantage. Consider my first bullet point “Achieved over $15,000 in ticket sales” this sounds impressive and is technically true. But taking into account that I worked for Viva Italia Tours for about two years (5 days a week for 104 weeks = 520 days), the tickets I was selling cost roughly $50 each ($15,000 ÷ $50 = 300 tickets) and (520 ÷ 300 = 1.7) so I sold just under two tickets on average for each day I worked. Could be worse but doesn’t have nearly the same ring to it that over $15,000 in ticket sales does. You can roughly figure out how much you generated for your company for most menial jobs. If you’re a waiter, just figure out how many people you served each day on average, multiply that by the cost of the average meal and then multiply the average meal cost by the number of days you worked and boom, you have the amount of money you generated. You should always lead with this, especially when applying to sales jobs. Bear in mind the numbers you come up with don’t have to be exact, you can ballpark how much it was you think you generated in revenue.
“Top sales numbers for four months running” is also true. What I don’t mention is the fact that I was the only salesperson for four months straight. Always bend the truth to your advantage when writing your job description. There is nothing immoral about this. If you even remotely believe that you can add value to your next employer, there is nothing wrong with coming up with the best pitch possible to get your foot in the door.
I did technically “Increase company wide revenue by 32% per week by identifying lower competition locations with higher foot traffic for company sales operations”. Again, this was possible because I was the sole employee. On a Thursday afternoon under the scorching Roman sun after a week of particularly low ticket sales I decided to move from my post near the Colosseum entrance where all of the competing solicitors hang out, over to the Arch of Constantine where there was much less competition. That resulted in a 32% increase in personal and therefore, company sales. As far as being recognized by management goes, my boss, Signore Paolo, did on several occasions tell me I was doing a good job. And there you have it. Making a job that a toddler could literally do sound like an actual career is what allowed me to get my first real sales jobs. You can do this by describing any job you have ever had in the most impressive possible terms.
Now let’s look at these job descriptions, written by college seniors I found on LinkedIn of their shitty jobs. And then we’ll see how they could have turned that experience into a resume builder that would absolutely get them interviews.
Mcdonalds - Aug 2013 – Present
Alright Linda’s description of her tenure as a Crew Trainer in the world’s largest fast food chain is bad for several reasons; She tells us nothing about her role as a crew trainer other than that she trained crew which one would have already assumed based on the job title. She only has one bullet point which makes it look like she doesn’t do much of anything.
Let’s look at Linda’s job description re-imagined.
Reimagined Job Description 2 -
Manager (Last time I checked a manager in training is still a manager)
McDonald’s (Removed date)
- Responsible for managing and training crew members in company operations, safety procedures and standard practices
- Recognized for outstanding customer service and enhancing restaurant efficiency.
- Maintained close interaction with management in order to ensure smooth operations and stay in keeping with McDonald’s core values
- Assisted store manager in every area of restaurant operations and was responsible for overseeing all restaurant operations in store manager’s absence.
Boom. Now that’s a job description that tells a hiring manager that you’ve got the skills to pay the bills. All of the sudden Linda has gone from someone who had the sole responsibility of vaguely training McDonald’s staff to a business woman with a large set of corporate responsibilities. And none of what I wrote is untrue.
After a quick Google search I found the responsibilities of a McDonald’s Crew Trainer, what they have to do in order to become a Manager and then the responsibilities of a Manager. On the McDonald’s career site it states the responsibilities of a crew trainer and separately, a manager in training are;
- Responsible For Managing and Training Crew Members In Company Operations, Safety Procedures and Standard Practices
- Maintaining Close Interaction With Management In Order To Ensure Smooth Operations And Maintain Adherence to McDonald’s Vision
- Must assist Store Manager In Every Area Of Restaurant Operation And The Running of Restaurant In Store Manager’s absence
Look familiar?. When reading further I found that in order for a Crew Trainer to become a manager they must be “Recognized for outstanding customer service and enhancing restaurant efficiency.” So by default, Linda must have been recognized for outstanding customer service and enhancing restaurant efficiency at some point in time, hence her ascendance to the manager training program.
Whenever you find yourself in doubt about what to write in for your job responsibilities, simply google your position or a position similar to yours and copy the most impressive responsibilities you find as long as you believe you are actually capable of carrying out the duties you list. Unless you work at a large company with clearly spelled out job descriptions on its website; i.e, McDonalds or some other large entity, simply google a similar position to your at a similar company. Then use the descriptions you find in order to beef up your job description.
For example, let’s say you worked in a pizza restaurant during college and spent the majority of your time folding pizza boxes and working the cash register. In your job description do not write anything along the lines of “responsible for folding boxes and cashing out customers.” Instead, outline the fact that you were responsible for inventory (pizza boxes are part of the inventory after all), that you were tasked with managing company finances (the register), that you created an atmosphere of unparalleled customer service and you were recognized on several occasions for excellence in your role (If your boss, a customer, your mom or anyone at all told you how great a job you were doing at any particular time that counts).
Let’s look at some more examples of crummy jobs descriptions of jobs that will soon be replaced by robots, and then how they would look re-imagined.
Subpar Job Description
Saints Cafe - August 2013 - May 2016
- Mixed A Variety Of Drinks For Customers
- Maintained Clean Work Environment
- Named Employee Of The Month
Reimagined Job Description
- Responsible for all cafe operations including but not limited to expertly crafting customers drink orders
- Maintaining the cleanest possible work environment in keeping with the strictest of food safety standards
- Named employee of the month for excellence in customer service as well as steadily decreasing the time it takes to create customer drink orders, leading to a 4% increase in cafe profits
Subpar Job Description
Guest Services Intern (Always list internships under the experience section and not education.)
Hampton Inn & Suites - November 2020 through Present
- Handles guest check-ins and check-outs
- Answers phones in order to schedule hotel stays and conferences
- manages guest records on company data-base
Reimagined Job Description
Guest Services Intern
Hampton Inn & Suites
- Serves as first point of customer contact and acts as face of hotel during work hours
- Frequently handles and solves a wide variety of guest issues
- Responsible for 100 or more guest check-ins and check-outs daily, as well as special requests
- Has successfully sold over $30,000 worth of our event services
- frequently files, runs and checks daily reports, contingency lists and credit card authorization reports
- Operate telephone for all reservations, record and process guest requests and customer questions or concerns
- Balance credit cards and secure bank at beginning and end of each shift
Your resume is a sales pitch. That’s it. Writing anything less than the most impressive possible description of your role in each job you have worked is undercutting your chance of standing out. Brag, be flamboyant and never worry that you’ll be seen as a fraud.
Step 9 - Education
If you have any work experience, have a degree and went anywhere other than an ivy league school your education is the least important part of your resume. The education section of your resume should only list your primary academic accomplishments and extra curriculars. You should reference your GPA, athletics, study abroad programs, extra curricular activities, internships and any particularly difficult projects you finished or took part in (thesis, financial projects, business reports, etc). If you had a particularly high GPA (3.5 and up) write it down, if not simply write “Maintained a high GPA through a rigorous field of study”.
If you have any work experience at all make your education description as brief as possible. For those relying primarily on their education, structure your description like this;
Lincoln University, BA in Business Development, GPA: 3.5/4.0 (lose the GPA if below 3.5)
Relevant Coursework: Sales and Marketing, Business Management Finance, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Business Development, Advanced Web Design.
- Committed 20 hours per week to the Lincoln University Varsity Lacrosse Program.
- Completed study abroad program in Barcelona, focusing on trade relations between Spain and the European Union
- Maintained high GPA through rigorous field of study (throw this in regardless of actual gpa)
- Student government treasurer, responsible for banking, bookkeeping, financial record keeping, weekly reports on student government finances, control of fixed assets, responsible allocation of monetary assets
In this format you are literally just listing all noteworthy accomplishments and interesting extracurricular activities you participated in. This type of education description on your resume provides you with a multifaceted substitute for job experience which lets prospective employers know that you have the abilities, and knowledge needed to effectively perform in a variety of roles that mirror typical professional roles. Listing athletic achievements, volunteer work or any type of fundraising you have done in the past are all activities you should absolutely list in this section. Remember, if you have any actual job experience at all there is no need to go this in depth with your educational history unless you are applying to a role that requires specialised training (Nurse, technical engineer, pilot, etc).
If you need a second opinion of your resume, the internet boasts a wide variety of free resume checking sites which will search your resume for common spelling mistakes, improper grammar and other common errors.
This is my go to for resume error checks. This free website allows you to upload your resume and will then, in seconds generate a report pinpointing your grammatical errors, sentence fragments and even missing information. Definitely worth testing.
Congratulations! If you have been working as you read along you now have a perfect resume. A resume that will literally end up making you thousands of dollars by helping your obtain a high paying job. In order to go out and get a sales job ASAP, I recommend reading my guide "How To Get a job in SaaS Sales This Week"