Resume Tips for New Salespeople

Joe Weinlick
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Landing a sales job when you have little or no sales experience can be tough, but not impossible. Companies are always looking for talented salespeople, so consider the resume and interview process as a way to show off your ability. By incorporating some resume tips, you can shine the spotlight on your positive attributes and direct attention away from your lack of experience.

An important resume tip for any job seeker is to keep it short and meaningful, and this tip is especially important with resumes for salespeople. Approaching a customer with flowery, yet meaningless, language about a product isn't going to close the deal. Sales professionals must be able to tell a customer about a product and how the customer will benefit from purchasing it; usually, this information must be condensed into a few minutes or seconds. If you want to show up on a sales manager's radar, you need to do the same thing with your resume summary. Create a punchy, interesting introduction that says something about you and how you can benefit the company, and avoid clichés like "self-starter," "highly motivated," or "success-driven." Such descriptions are empty because they're qualities that every employee should have—tell the prospective employer what makes you stand out.

Lisa Manley of Joppa Medical Recruiting says she looks for industry keywords in a resume; when screening for medical sales representatives, Manley says she's likely to toss any document that doesn't contain keywords. Manley's statement brings up one of the most important resume tips for job seekers today: keywords are essential. Hiring managers may skim resumes looking for keywords. Even more important is the fact that so many recruiting organizations are using resume databases and sites like LinkedIn. Resumes for salespeople without experience can still include applicable keywords. You may need to get creative by comparing other experiences to sales processes. For example, you could associate success with fundraising efforts to direct sales or highlight customer service aspects of your office management job.

Avoid being seen as a job-hopper by explaining transitions. A common resume tip is to structure your resume in a way that highlights tenure. If you held multiple positions with a single company, list the company first, along with the dates for your entire tenure; break down the different positions under that heading. If you're moving from a different career into sales, give a brief and positive explanation for the change in your cover letter. Someone who's been in administration or IT for years needs to tell employers why they think a change to sales will work for all involved.

Breaking into a new career is a challenge, whether you're just entering the job market or making a major job change. These resume tips can help keep your application out of the wastebasket. Even with the best resume tips, be realistic about your level of sales experience. You may need to pound the pavement for a while or take an entry-level job in order to move up.

(Photo courtesy of Ambro /


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