How to Structure a Sales Resume 

Updated Dec 21, 20225 min
How to Structure a Sales Resume 

How to Structure a Sales Resume 

Caroline BantonUpdated Dec 21, 20225 min
How to Structure a Sales Resume 

Could you sell ice to an Eskimo? A good salesperson can. That salesperson would persuade the Eskimo that the ice they are selling is special, that the Eskimo cannot do without that particular brand of ice. When creating a sales resume, the same concept applies—find the unique characteristics that show only you can do the job.

The following guide will show you how to create a sales resume that will make you irresistible to a hiring manager. We’ll show you what to accentuate and package your skills. We’ll show you how to ensure your resume sails through applicant tracking system filters, holds the recruiter’s attention, and lands you an interview for the sales job of your dreams.

Just like the eskimo’s unique ice, this guide is special, so special that the sales job seeker cannot do without it.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

First, Do Your Research

Thoroughly researching a company you are targeting is crucial to developing a stand-out sales resume. It will also help you deliver a stellar performance in an interview, so consider it time well spent. By researching the company, you can better understand their brands and their sales strategy. You need to understand their products and the value they bring to the customer before you can sell them.

That said, there is a common and vital characteristic that a salesperson must own—a connection with the customer. Where your resume is concerned, the immediate customer is the hiring manager, so, approach your resume from that perspective. We’ll explain this in more detail as we go.

So, how can you get a clearer picture of the company’s products and sales strategy? The job description is obviously the first place to go, then, read the content on the company website. However, the best thing to do is to find an insider who can give you the low down—another salesperson who works for the same company would hit the jackpot!

To find an insider, you could call your HR contact and ask them to recommend someone that you could chat with. Or, try visiting the company LinkedIn page and reaching out to a few employees. What about your social networks? Can anyone you know help you to find an insider?

Once you know a bit more about the job, you can start to create your resume for your job search.

What to Include In a Sales Resume

Remember that the reader is your customer, so think about what the reader wants to see. For sales, that would be evidence that you can sell. However, you also have to consider the key components of a resume—its format, your contact information, your summary, and your experience. Let’s look at each one.

Simple Resume Format

You might be tempted to differentiate your resume with an image or two or colorful graphics. Don’t. Yes, selling takes creative approaches, but the key to a good sales resume template is not creative, but hard metrics. Think, what you sold, how much you sold, and how you sold it. Graphs can be effective, but on a one-page resume, which is as long as a good resume should be, they clutter the page and distract the reader.

A good choice for a resume template is the  “clean” template shown among the resume samples here. It delivers your brand in a well-organized way. The summary is the headline that will convince the reader that you are the person they cannot do without, and the bullet points give pack-a-punch real examples of your sales accomplishments. 

Also, with this template, your hard and soft skills are listed in a separate column for maximum effect rather than at the bottom where they can get lost in other resume examples.

Personal Information

The first section of your resume will show your contact information. Include your LinkedIn url, your Twitter handle, your address, and your phone number. If you have an advanced degree for sales certifications, an MBA for example, add the letters after your name.

Resume Objective

Your resume objective is where you package yourself neatly and aim for maximum impact. Your resume objective should summarize you and your brand. It should be a strong statement about who you are, showcase an example of your shrewd sales history and explain what you want to do professionally. Your resume, and particularly the resume summary, should be tailored for each job.

Here is an example of a resume objective in response to a sales manager job for a  newly launched restaurant concept.

Results-driven sales professional with 4+ years of experience in the retail and restaurant industries. Successfully led a sales team in a new initiative to engage customers that increased sales by 60% within one year. Seeking a role with a progressive new brand concept that seeks to optimize market presence in the early launch stage.

In this summary, the candidate shows that they have proven success in the same industry as the employer and that their goal is to work for an early restaurant startup. Perfect, right? 

Here’s another example. This summary is in response to a tech sales job for a company that develops IT solutions.

  “Customer-focused sales leader with 2+ years of technology marketing experience. History of leveraging social media platforms as a framework for sales strategies, Achieved an average increase in conversions of 40% in 2020 for the company’s portfolio of products."

  Let’s unpack the resume objective and explain each of the components. The opening uses adjectives that should have an impact and leave a striking first impression. In this case, “Results-driven,” and “Customer-focused" describe the candidate and start to build their brand.

The next part of the statement gives years of experience. If you experienced in sales, a word of warning. Remember that it is your quantifiable accomplishments that count, not your longevity in a sales role. Ageism is rife in recruiting, so saying “6+” or “7+" years of experience is great. The world of sales has changed dramatically, so going back too many years is irrelevant anyway.

The next few words give a picture of what you can do for the employer. Be specific and address the direct needs of the company. What you say here should mirror what the job description lays out as requirements. If the job is restaurant sales, give an example of what you have accomplished in the restaurant industry.

Lastly, the statement gives a quantitative measure of your accomplishments as evidence of your track record and that you can indeed deliver what you promise. For example, ”achieved an average increase in conversions of 40% in 2020 for the company’s portfolio of products." is a convincing argument of your value as a sales professional.

Now, in comes the work experience section. But, this section is really more about giving more reasons why you are the perfect person for the job than describing what you have done in the past. Remember, consider what the reader wants to see.

Your Work History

A high-performing sales representative sets clear, measurable goals and meets them. So, the experience section, or our work history, is where you tell the reader how you did it and what the results were. Only go back two or three employers if you have impressive results to brag about. That will avoid a cluttered resume, and each bullet point will keep the reader’s attention.

It’s also important to show continuity and progression—that you have stayed with a company for two years or more and that you have progressed in your career. If you have not been with a company for more than two years, that could be a problem, but it is easily overcome.

The recent pandemic has created gaps in many resumes, so recruiters may not be too alarmed. If you took a sabbatical, had to care for a relative, or there were other reasons why you took some time off, add a line in your resume to explain that. Don’t go into details because you want to draw attention to your time in sales, not your time at home.

Another way to address gaps is to only include the years that you were with a company and omit the months.

If you are a recent graduate with limited sales experience, add any summer internships, part-time, or volunteer work to this section that are relevant to sales.

Formatting the Work History Section

List your employers in chronological order starting with your current job. Use month/date format, give your job title, and add the name of the company. Use bullet points for each item.

As you write each item, include keywords that will ensure that a candidate tracking system will not reject your sales representative resume. Good keywords will be on the job description in the requirements section. If one of the requirements is “monitor customer acquisition” include “customer acquisition” in your experience if it is part of your history.

Most importantly, good resume writing uses metrics in your bullet points to back up your experience. For example, don’t just say that you “re-mapped customer touchpoints,” explain the impact of that. For example, “re-mapped customer touchpoints and improved conversion rates by 60%.” In your bullet points, include examples that showcase your technical skills and your soft skills in addition to your sales skills; for example, leadership and client management.

Here are some ways to describe your hard skills

  • CRM Software (e.g., Salesforce CRM, Hubspot CRM, Zoho CRM, Freshsales)

  • Lead Generation

  • Social Media

  • Microsoft Certified

  • Lead Prospecting 

  • Customer Needs Analysis

  • Referral Marketing

  • Contract Negotiation

  • Optimizing Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

  • Increasing Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

  • Reducing Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

  • Law & Policy Knowledge 

Here are some ways to describe your soft skills.

  • Product Knowledge

  • Business Development

  • Rapport Building

  • Interpersonal Skills

  • Critical Thinking

  • Communication Skills

  • Problem Solving

Here are some examples of bullet points to describe your work in sales positions.

  • Managed industrial equipment sales team and large construction and contractor business relationships. Realized 100% of sales targets within six months.

  • Developed ambitious sales targets based on extensive market research and analysis with 95% achievement in year 1 and 100% achievement in year 2.

  • Mentored a team of 10 sales rep sales goals and improved performance by designing and implementing an incentive scheme.

  • Liaised between Barnaby Concepts and corporate clients to facilitate and maintain healthy business relationships.

  • Managed client database and pursued potential leads in a customer relationship management (CRM) program. Generated 20% additional leads.

  • Maintained positive client relationships with 15 corporate customers.

The Education Section

In the education section, list the schools you went to and what degree you earned. Also, list any sales certifications you might have earned. These could also appear in the skills section if you prefer.

If you are at the entry-level sales stage of your career and don’t have any metrics to showcase real accomplishments with employers, it is fine to add your GPA if it is 3.6 or above.

If you are more advanced in your career, there is no need to add your GPA. Whether you add the date that you graduated is a point for discussion. Some applicant tracking software might screen out resumes that don’t include the graduation date. However, if you are a seasoned salesperson and graduated many years ago, it might be better not to add the year you graduated.

The Skills Section

The best way to optimize the skills section on a professional resume is to align your skills with the job description. It’s not about listing off as many skills as you can. In fact, if you can claim to have just the skills that the job description asks for, that’s perfect! That way, you don’t clutter your resume with irrelevant stuff.

Of course, if you have a unique or highly impressive skill that sets you apart and is not asked for in the job description, you should include it here. Again, include both hard and soft skills. 

Add here any sales certifications that you have earned here too.

If you have contributed at tradeshows or written articles or blogs. List them here or under a separate heading such as “Presentations” or “Published Articles.”

Final Checklist

Whether you are creating a sales associate resume or a sales manager resume, tailor it for each position that you apply for. The keywords and job requirements will be different for each employer.

  • Choose an uncluttered clean format with no distracting colors or images.

  • Clearly list your skills and education ideally separated out from the body of your resume in a separate column.

  • Update your LinkedIn profile to make sure the dates of your employment match your resume. If they don’t, this could be a red flag for recruiters, and they may not shortlist you.

  • Don’t list more than two or three employers.

  • Show career progression and explain any gaps in your work history.

  • Include keywords that you find in the job description.

  • Exclude any irrelevant information, such as high school, GPAs, or school achievements if you are further along in your career.

Always have a third party or three proofread your resume.

Here's an example of what a great sales resume looks like (and you can download this template here):

Sales Resume

Caroline Banton
Expert on career acceleration and business topics with vast experience writing for globally-recognized publications

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