The job-hunting landscape is fiercely competitive, especially for sales reps. In order to stand out to hiring managers, you need a sales resume that grabs their attention.
The best way to do this? Give sales hiring managers the information and skills they care most about. In this guide, we’ll provide you with instructions on how to polish your sales resume and get interviews, complete with templates and examples.
If you’re a hiring manager or a sales manager involved in the recruiting process, we’ve got you covered. This guide includes what to look for in a sales resume and how to find the candidates who are the best fit for your company's culture (jobseekers, you can benefit from this section too, as it will help you understand what hiring managers are looking for).
When hiring new sales reps or managers, you should look for tell-tale signs and skills that they’ll be the right candidate for your sales organization. How well they position themselves, and what relevant information they include, act as strong indicators of whether or not they’re worth your time.
You can’t know for sure if you’ve found a top-performer until the interview phase, but if the rep has a sales resume that includes the following elements, it’s likely they’ll be a great fit.
Their results: Concrete evidence of their strengths as a sales professional, a good sales person should have impressive metrics from past jobs.
Their ambition: Is it clear that they are driven and motivated by challenges and goals?
An understanding of the data: A knowledge of what makes a good sales process and salesperson.
A hunger to learn: A desire to improve and an openness to being taught.
Their passion: Is it clear that they love what they do?
Here are the questions you should ask yourself in more detail:
Unless you’re hiring for an entry-level role, finding talent with a proven track record is critical.
Great salespeople (or those with great potential) do not shy away from their successes. They’re happy to list out their accomplishments because they know it will get them noticed.
A history of getting results is more important than the field they’ve worked in. For example, if you’re hiring for an organization offering SaaS solutions, it’s well worth considering a candidate who has generated impressive results from the real estate industry.
If the numbers behind their success seem unclear, but they still seem like a strong candidate, open a dialogue during the interview process. Asking questions like “what’s the biggest accomplishment in your career so far?” will allow them to shine. The answer to this question will also provide you with an opportunity to dig deeper and confirm that the numbers they used actually reflect their sales skills.
Most salespeople are ambitious by nature. They set goals that stretch them beyond their capabilities and are keen to continuously learn from their experiences. While it’s difficult to gauge conscientiousness from a resume, you can look for indicators.
Do they share what they would like to gain from this role? Are they searching for a new challenge because they want to stretch themselves and develop their skills?
Their cover letter and summary should demonstrate great sales resume skills and give you a glimpse into their drive and determination. If they outline what they can bring to the table, and how they can improve your processes, it’s a good indication you’ve found a hard-working candidate.
Sharing their numbers proves results. But understanding sales data, and the metrics behind them, is critical for executing the right sales activities.
High-performing reps understand how an activity contributes to each sales process step. They also understand how metrics inform whether those activities have been successful.
You can simply look for any mentions of specific metrics and activities. For example, they may share the steps they take to move an appointment to the negotiation stage, or how they ensure objections are handled early.
Look for sales resumes that place emphasis on specific metrics. For example, do they share their average win rate or lead response times?
Even if these activities are not critical to your processes, it shows that they understand the importance of a well-optimized sales process.
Having ambition is an attractive trait in potential candidates and that should be clear on any sales resume. But being open to learning is even more important, especially if a rep is shifting to a new industry or product category.
Again, it’s hard to fully understand this until the interview phase. When looking for indicators of coachability, keep an eye on the following:
Do they demonstrate learnings from previous roles?
Are they honest about the gaps in their current skill set?
Do they share any credentials, favorite books or sales blogs?
Understand how open they are to learning. This will make them easier to onboard and train during your relationship.
No matter how good a sales rep is at closing deals, a lack of passion can be detrimental to your culture. A negative outlook and pessimistic attitude can bring the rest of your team down and hurt morale.
As Mark Hunter puts it, passion for sales often comes from helping people:
“To me it’s not about selling a widget; it’s about helping others solve problems.”
Reps that take a consultative selling approach (putting the prospect’s needs first) build more meaningful relationships. The stronger the relationship, the less likely a customer is to churn:
Passion can be evident in the language they use on their sales resume. For example, if they simply provide an objective account of their experience, successes and metrics, it’s difficult to gauge their love for the craft.
However, if their cover letter and sales skills resume is filled with anecdotes, stories and experiences, then it’s likely they’re passionate about their craft. When passion is present, they’re not only more pleasant to work with, but are likely to get better results.
Beyond looking for tell-tale signs that a candidate is a good fit, look for potential problems, too. Identifying issues early on will help you save time and effort spent on evaluating an unfit candidate for the sales position.
Some examples of red flags are:
Long, unexplained work absences. Are these large gaps in employment? Without a suitable explanation (e.g. becoming a parent, traveling, going back to school), this could be an indicator that something’s amiss.
Many short roles. Does the applicant have a track record of job-hopping? That’s not necessarily always bad, but it could imply a lack of loyalty or trainability. As training new hires is an expensive endeavor, you want to invest your time and money into a rep who will stick around.
Disorganized and full of typos. If the resume is difficult to follow or read, that shows a lack of attention to detail and organization skills.
Ambiguous wording. Does the sales resume lack detail? Any good application should have a resume objective, or even resume summary that shows the candidate’s goals and their worth. Is it littered with adjectives as space fillers? This could be a tactic to disguise a lack of experience.
Make sure the applicant’s resume is coherent, detailed and professionally executed. Anything less is a red flag.
Once you’ve vetted each applicant based on their sales resume skills, and have a shortlist of those you feel would be a good fit, it’s time to invite them to an interview. The interview phase is the best opportunity to test them on the traits listed above.
To measure candidates against your criteria, ask questions like:
Tell me about a time where you set difficult goals? This will help you understand how ambitious they are. Gauge how results-driven they are by asking the candidate to explain what these goals were and how they achieved them.
Why did you get into sales? / What do you love most about selling? These questions allow you to get deep into their motivations, helping to gauge their passion for sales.
What is a concept you understand that many people don’t? This will provide insights into how they think and simplify complex ideas. This is a critical skill when working with and interpreting data.
What is the biggest accomplishment you’ve achieved in your career? While results on their sales resume are important, this allows you to dig deeper into the stories behind them, or even get into their soft skills that could set them apart from other candidates. It also demonstrates what they value most in their work.
Roleplay a sales pitch and ask them what they think they could do better. Ask them to sell you something they’re familiar with. If they can be open and honest about their sticking points, it’s likely they’ll be open to learning.
If you’re hiring for seasoned reps, measure them by these traits and their track record. If the role you’re hiring for is entry-level, then these characteristics will help you predict if a candidate is likely to become a top-performing salesperson.
Read our guide on hiring sales professionals for more information on finding and vetting potential candidates.
When you’re on a job search looking for new sales opportunities, it can be tough to stand out. After all, you don’t have visibility of how others are positioning themselves and the competitive landscape at large.
Seasoned account execs, new reps and sales associates alike must grab the attention of hiring managers and make a great first impression with an eye-catching sales resume. Luckily, no matter what industry you wish to work in, organizations always need a sales force in some capacity.
Before putting your sales resume together, clearly define the type of company you’d love to work for. Do you want to work with an enterprise company that has a large sales organization, or join a startup as one of the first salespeople through the door?
What kind of culture are you looking for? Do you enjoy relationship building and working in the hustle and bustle of an office, or do you prefer remote working? What kind of sales management and teamwork do you thrive under?
Whatever your goals, get clear on what makes a role attractive to you. Here are four things to include in your sales skills resume that will help you stand out to the right hiring managers.
Basic facts about your career
Some of your most impressive metrics
Some industry language
Your education and experience
Let’s cover what your sales resume must include to get interviews.
Many sales representatives have a habit of only providing numbers as a representation of their sales resume skills, but as we discussed earlier, hiring managers are looking for more than results.
Where did you first learn to sell? How have you developed your interpersonal skills? What do you love most about the craft? How did you impact your previous sales team? Whether you’re applying for SDR, account executive or business development roles, share why this sales career choice is important to you.
Other basic facts to include in your sales resume:
The types of products and services you’ve sold in the past
Customers you’ve sold to (including job roles and industries)
Internal teams and executives you’ve worked with (e.g. developers, finance execs etc.)
Deal sizes you’ve closed (including revenue, number of users etc.)
Geographical locations and regions you’ve sold into
This will provide recruiters with a snapshot of your sales skills and experience in closing sales. Hook them in with these facts early, and you’re likely to reel them in to investigate your resume in depth.
Understanding the importance of data is an attractive trait for sales managers. Once you’ve covered basic facts, go deeper into the numbers to prove the worth you brought to those past roles.
Even if you’re new to the sales game, there are ways to demonstrate results while showing you understand sales best practices.
Use the metrics behind your key achievements to paint a clearer picture. Include milestones from your career to date, along with the figures behind them. For example:
80 new sales qualified leads (SQLs) added to pipeline in Q3 2021
$185,000 in new revenue generated during my time at Acme Inc.
Average call rate of 20 prospects per day
The last example above demonstrates an attention to the activities that achieve those results. Activity-based selling prioritizes sales inputs and is part of many modern-day sales playbooks.
The language, buzzwords and metrics used will vary from industry to industry. It’s important you understand the ecosystem of the space you want to work in, especially if you’re entering it for the first time. Even if you had to do research to learn those buzzwords, this attention to detail proves to the hiring manager that you care about the position.
For example, if you’re moving from real estate into SaaS, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the overall business model and product knowledge. More importantly, you must demonstrate an understanding of the key metrics that matter to these organizations (net MRR, churn rate, CAC etc.)
Some employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter applicants. It scans your resume to identify keywords and determine your level of experience. Use the right language to overcome this hurdle.
Include applicable keywords in relation to the job you’re applying to (you can find these in the job posting), include numeric achievements in your bullet points, highlight impressive metrics and feature examples of problem solving. Also, make sure you upload the specific file type the job posting asks for.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Use exciting action verbs to catch the eyes of hiring managers. For example, instead of saying you “led” a project from start to finish, you could say you “headed”, “orchestrated” or “executed” it.
How did you get into sales? Where and who did you learn from? Include details on where you developed your sales skills in an education section and an experience section to show recruiters you’re keen to continue learning.
These are some common learning sources that sales managers value:
Courses. Did you take an online class or in-person workshops to hone your skills?
Books. Include any authors you admire and have learned from.
Blogs. Mention which sales blogs you read.
Mentors. Including managers at previous roles and other peers.
Experienced sales managers look for reps who are coachable. Demonstrating an openness to learn will show them you’re easy to work with and will get up to speed with their processes quickly, plus it will make up for any lack of sales skills or experience.
Now you know what important skills to put on your resume for sales, let’s look at some example sales resumes and sales resume templates. Use these resume samples as a framework when writing your own.
It’s important not only to focus on resume quality, but also aesthetics for time management sake. Recruiters spend an average of only 7.4 seconds scanning a resume so you need to be sure your sales resume stands out.
Improving resume format improves readability and focuses the attention exactly where you want it. Plus, it makes it much easier for the hiring manager to scan and entices them to keep reading.
When writing your sales resume, keep the following rules in mind:
Use a simple layout. Avoid complex designs and formats. We’ve seen resumes that include three columns, making it difficult to skim and identify a candidate’s relevant experience.
Use dedicated sections in your resume format. Make your resume scannable by including sections with their own header (e.g. a skills section) to list your sales experience, hard skills and education. Soft skills can be mentioned in the interview if there isn’t room on your sales resume.
Tailor it for the role. Only include information that matters to the organization you’re applying to. Create a “master version” you can amend before sending.
Watch out for mistakes. As a customer-facing executive, communication skills are key. Demonstrate thoroughness by ensuring your resume is free from typos and spelling mistakes.
With the foundations covered, let’s explore a proven layout and some templates you can use today when resume writing.
When structuring the layout of your resume, we recommend using a small column to the right-hand side.
This allows hiring managers to quickly find information about your skills, contact details, social media profiles and other short snippets of information. The rest of the resume provides in-depth information on your experience.
Using a side column also makes your resume shorter, as it uses up empty space that would otherwise cause it to be two or three pages long.
The side column of your resume is perfect for contact information and relevant skills to the role. Here’s how to structure your contact details:
Sales Development Representative
Below this, include relevant sales skills and customer relationship management (CRM) experience. You can prioritize these based on the job description. Sales skills to put on a resume include:
CRM Proficiency (Pipedrive)
By including sales resume skills mentioned in the job description, it shows you’re the right person for the job. It also demonstrates a level of attention to detail.
Your summary acts as a snapshot of who you are, your experience and your career goals. Positioned at the top of your resume, it should be no more than 100 words long.
A strong sales representative resume summary includes the following elements:
Years of experience
Industries you’ve worked in/with
Type and size of accounts you’ve closed
Certifications and membership (e.g. NASP)
Key achievements (e.g. hitting 99% of quota each quarter)
Your personal, professional sales goals
Here’s an example you can use as a template:
Results-driven sales development representative with over 3 years of experience in SaaS and B2B, selling to senior management level roles for 300+ employee companies. Member of the National Association of Sales Professionals. Generated more than $195,000 in new business (based on LTV) in Q3 2021. Looking for a new challenge to stretch my goals and develop my skills to become an account manager.
Immediately after the summary comes your work experience. This must be well-organized and written in a succinct manner. Here’s a guide to use when listing your previous roles:
List your previous roles in reverse chronological order
Start with your job title
Include company name, location and the timeframe you were employed
Include three to five bullet points to describe your responsibilities
Add an achievement or two (e.g. customer retention), with metrics to back it up
Here’s how this looks in practice:
Sales Development Representative
HR Software, New York City
March 2019 to April 2020
1. Executed and developed proven lead generation techniques to fill sales pipeline for account managers.
2. Use sales qualifying criteria to ensure quality of leads
3. Improved upon activity-driven sales development processes
4. Conducted cold emailing and cold calling to fill pipeline and optimized scripts used
Generated leads that generated $185,000 in new business from March 2019 to December 2019
The education you include on your sales resume will depend on your level of experience. For example, if you’re applying for a manager or director-level position, you can simply add your college or university degree. Your sales experience will talk volumes about your general sales skills and credentials. Here’s how to structure this:
Marketing Communications Degree
Siena College, Loudonville, NY
Graduated in 2015
However, if you’re applying for an entry-level position, you must be specific. This means including relevant coursework or internships during your time there (you could also include your GPA). Here’s how this looks:
Marketing Communications Degree
Siena College, Loudonville, NY
Graduated in 2018
Relevant coursework: Business Management, Consumer Behavior, Sales and Marketing Fundamentals
This allows managers to quickly see which areas of your education are most relevant to the role.
Finally, if you have room, you can include some sections at the bottom of your resume for the following:
Certificates. Any additional achievements or awards relevant to your career.
Learning. Beyond official education, which blogs and books have you found most valuable?
Hobbies. What do you like to do for fun? Let your personality shine.
Volunteering. Any unpaid work you’ve done. Include relevant work experience or non-profit contributions.
Before you send your sales resume to a recruiter, ask yourself: “Is my resume tailored to this specific role?”
If not, take the time to modify each resume for each specific application. This means removing any irrelevant experience, education and content that wouldn’t add value to a recruiter.
Create a “master” resume document. Add in every job you’ve had and skills you’ve accumulated throughout your career so far. Then, when applying for jobs, remove the elements that are not relevant to the role.
This will save you time when sending applications. It will also help you to stand out from the crowd, as you’re presenting a professional resume featuring only the information that recruiters care about.
The perfect sales resume communicates the right skills and an ability to get results and understand customer needs. Plus, it conveys a strong attention to detail.
For sales job hunters, this means tailoring your sales skills resume for the role you’re applying for and sharing your numbers and achievements in order to prove you’re the right candidate for the job.
If you’re a sales manager looking for your next top-performer, use this guide as a criteria. Do they demonstrate an openness to learning and a proven track record of driving new revenue? Look for these qualities and it’s likely you’re on to a winner.
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