Major Mistakes in Sales Resumes and Cover Letters

Our company has received thousands of sales resumes over the years and here are some of the resume mistakes that we see most often…

Business Clichés

Far too many resumes use business clichés or corporate “talk” in their resumes and even in their cover letters. Such phrases as “wanting to use my proven experience to further my career” … “a team player looking for the right company” … “self-motivated with great organizational skills” are all trite, ineffective, and quite boring. Basically, these are opinions of yourself that have little influence on most hiring managers. Skip the jargon, write in facts, not opinions, and leave out the glossy descriptions of yourself and what you want and tell them what you can bring to the position.

The “I” Word

One of the most overused words in the English language…and used too often in most resumes. Express what you want to communicate by greatly minimizing the word “I.” By using the “I” word too often, a person projects the image of being self-centered and being too concerned about what they want vs. what they can contribute. Become “you” focused, not “I” focused.

Activities vs. Results

Many resumes look like job descriptions of the person’s employment history. Hiring managers, especially in sales, are primarily interested in what sales results you have accomplished in your previous sales jobs, not a detailed description of what you did. Talk about bottom line sales achievements. Managers hire proven sales track records that are transferable to their company. Emphasize numbers in your sales achievements (i.e. 120% of quota, top 5% of sales force, etc.)

Professional Objectives & Skills

Many people writing resumes are too vague and too general in stating their professional objectives and skill sets. Their reasoning is that they want to “cast a big net” and not eliminate any opportunities that exist. For example, many times a person will list 10 bullet points of skills such as financial analyst, project manager, IT consultant, sales manager, etc. The impression this creates is that this person is trying to get any position they can, while most hiring managers are looking for professional specialists who are not trying to be all things to all people. Be precise and be accurate in communicating what the specific skills are that you can bring to a company and, most importantly, what you can contribute.

Cover Letters

The majority of cover letters are too long, too general, and again, use too many clichés. Instead of writing a long, verbose cover letter, use a compelling headline such as “OVERACHIEVER” or “PROVEN WINNER”. This technique is different and unique and will create more attention for the reader to stay engaged with your resume and continue reading.

Second, in the body of the cover letter, use bullet points with short achievement-driven facts. Always include a short, exciting P.S. at the end of your letter. It should be a short and powerful statement because it’s generally the first thing people read even though it is at the end of the letter.

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