An excellent salesperson like you can sell anything … including yourself! You may just need a few tips on resume writing to ensure you get the job you’re looking for.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to the potential for a great salesperson. You have a whole world of products and services you can choose from and although you may have a specialty, if you have sales skills, you can sell almost anything.
Of course, a sales representatives job – first and foremost – is to sell, sell, sell. But that’s not all you have to do. Sales reps also must:
- Generate and follow-up on leads
- Track your customer contacts and their results
- Service existing accounts
- Understand your products and/or services inside and out!
Luckily, you can choose to sell in an industry that interests you and in which you believe. That certainly makes selling easier.
Key Fact: Sales representative is the third highest paying career you can enter without a college degree.
You’re comfortable talking to new people and you know how to generate interest. Those attributes will make it easier for you than for some others to do well in an interview. Add to that your confidence as a salesperson, you probably feel you can sell yourself to a hiring manager and easily get the job of your dreams. But there’s still a problem: You know you can sell yourself if you can get the interview, but how do you get the interview?
You start out with a well-written, professional resume!
- Get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers
- Let your salesperson’s persuasion show through in your profile
- Highlight your biggest achievements
- Pass by the gatekeeping Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
- Make a great first impression with a crisp, clean layout.
Before we get into the breakdown of a great resume, let’s take a look at the market for salespeople and where you can find the best-paying jobs.
What does a sales representative do?
As a sales representative, you are responsible for working to attract clients and sell company products outside of company headquarters. You will be charged with developing sales strategies and striving to expand client volume. Sales representatives work to identify customer needs and desires, and provide feedback to company management. You will be asked to attend sales events, network, and aim to represent the company in the best light possible. You must have excellent sales skills, in addition to having superior interpersonal skills so that you can tailor your approach to each customer.
Read on to discover how to sell yourself in a great sales representative resume and keep your career moving.
As a sales representative, it's important to represent yourself as a true professional. Check out these related sales resume categories and get inspired:
Sales representative job role in your resume
You can pick your spot based on your goals. As a great salesperson, switching verticals may be a bit easier for you.
Your fortunes may rise and fall with the industry you sell in, but the longer your tenure in one industry, the more you may need to take a course or prove your knowledge if you want to try your sales skills in another field.
It’s difficult to get a firm idea of the job prospects for salespeople because much of the demand for your skills depends on the industry in which you work. U.S. labor statistics predict a decrease in sales jobs of 2 percent by 2029.
When deciding on a sales career, think about your expertise. If you are tech-savvy, you may want to consider selling technology services or products such as software. You may work for either a consulting company that sells services or packages hardware and software bundles or for an individual software, hardware, or web-based application creator. The job prospects for sales engineers is much better than for salespeople in general. In fact, this sector is expected to grow by 6 percent through 2029, with a median salary of $103,900.
Enterprise software salespeople earned a median of $94,535 in 2020, according to Salary.com.
In contrast, retail sales positions are not expected to grow at all and pay much less: $25,440 a year. These positions may be a good way to get some sales experience under your belt, especially if you don’t have technology expertise or are just entering the job market.
Another consideration is your education level. Technology sales jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or business-related area. Retail or B2B entry-level jobs do not usually require a degree. If you are considering real estate sales, you will have to take real estate exams to earn a license.
The healthcare industry is another high-paying alternative. The average base salary for a pharmaceutical representative was $109,250 and the average commission was $41,967 (see our guide to writing a pharmaceutical rep resume here), according to the 2020 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report. Medical device sales was another lucrative avenue. In this related field, sales representatives earned an average of $92,934 with commissions of $98,186.
No matter what industry you work in, you will need a stellar resume to get that interview and show off your sales skills.
Let’s start with the most creative section of all, your professional profile.
Resume profile example for a sales rep: use your powers of persuasion
This is your opportunity, so seize it. Your professional profile, or summary, is the one place to get a little creative and use the charm you turn on when you are trying to close a deal. Be cautious, however, because not everything comes across on paper the way you intend it to.
The goal of this section is to highlight your best sales accomplishments and to allow your personality to shine through. Choose one or two professional achievements that will make recruiters think, “Wow, we can’t let this high flyer go!” You should have plenty of dollar amounts to add so the hiring manager can see the size of the deals you have closed. Another great number to put in is by how much you beat your sales quota (if you did) and how much you increased sales overall.
Your profile section is about four lines long – not a lot of space, but you should be well-versed in getting your point across quickly. A good salesperson gets to the point before their customer gets bored.
Also make sure you use strong verbs to describe all that you do. You didn’t just sell, you closed a big deal. You didn’t make a cold call, you generated leads. You didn’t just talk to customers, you served customer needs and ensured their satisfaction.
Generated leads that culminated in $5 million in new sales.
Sold $5 million in product.
Consider asking trusted customers, colleagues, or friends what words they would use to describe your sales style and add them to your profile. Are you dynamic? Persuasive? Sympathetic? A problem-solver? Remember that recruiters are looking for a good fit for the team as well as someone who can sell. Add a sentence about your sales philosophy or methods. If you will be working closely with a team in your desired position, also include information about how you function in a team.
Beat the ATS!
Applicant Tracking Systems are designed to scan and input relevant information into a human resource department’s database. They also use algorithms to rank your resume compared to all the other resumes for the same position. Among other information, the ATS is scanning for keywords and phrases pegged to the job, so you need to customize your resume to reflect each job listing.
How do you do that?
- Analyze the job listing for the skills and attributes required and desired
- Do an honest assessment of yourself
- Check all the skills and attributes you have. (If you don’t have many that are listed, perhaps this is not the job for you.)
- Organically integrate any keywords or phrases in the listing that don’t yet appear in your resume.
There is no magic bullet for beating the ATS, but a little investigation may give you an edge here. Many companies list the ATS they use right on their website. Since each one is a little different, knowing the exact software your desired company uses may help you understand exactly how to rank higher within the ATS.
Be aware that using white text crammed full of keywords or otherwise overstuffing your resume with those words are well-known by hiring managers and some ATS, so avoid that. Instead, be genuine and include those keywords and phrases in places where they belong.
Read the example sales representative resume content below for ideas.
Experienced and driven Sales Representative with a proven track record of exceeding goals and increasing sales volume and company presence. Results-driven individual with a niche for increasing revenue streams and developing long-lasting and effective client relationships. Bringing forth the ability to develop and implement winning business plans that lead to increased sales. Adept in leading sales training workshops, and managing teams to achieve company goals.
Employment history CV sample: detail your success
Your profile hits the highlights of your career and adds a zing of personality and your employment history fills in the details. But it shouldn’t be a dry recounting of every sale and every responsibility you have ever had. Instead, craft a story of your increasing sales abilities and show that you are already exercising the skills necessary to take your next career step.
Unless you are entering the job market for the first time, you have learned and grown in your various positions. Thinking in reverse chronological order (the same order in which you will organize this section), make a list of your biggest accomplishments at each job. In your first job, you did the basics, but now you have some serious sales chops. Use each bullet point to detail one great achievement and show off a skill.
Write your bullet points in the STAR format:
- Explain the situation
- Relate what you were tasked with
- Tell the action you took
- Use data and details to highlight your results.
Don’t rely only on pure sales. Your job encompasses more than that, so make sure you show in your work experience section that you have those other skills. For instance, as a sales representative, you should be adept at researching market trends and creating sales strategies that coincide with those trends. You must also develop and foster strategic relationships with clients and industry members. Sales reps should be adept at effectively carrying out marketing strategies, and working to achieve optimal client satisfaction.
- Worked as a dedicated and accomplished Sales Representative for one of the largest Medical companies in the area.
- Led sales department with highest quarterly sales for two consecutive years.
- Ranked #1 Sales Professional in 2011 and 2012 with over $800,000 in annual sales.
- Retained clients and extended contracts by addressing issues and concerns and negotiating new contracts that satisfied the needs and desires of clients.
- Conducted presentations about products to large and small groups, outlining optimal benefits and competitive advantages.
Resume education section example: display your schooling
As we said earlier, not all sales representative jobs require a college degree, but it can be very helpful depending on the industry vertical. Some industries or companies will require at least a bachelor’s degree. Others, such as real estate, will also require licensing.
Your education section is a straightforward listing of your academic degrees and business certifications. You may also choose to list awards and accolades here, or create another section if you have more than one or two and have the space. If you hold a degree higher than a bachelor’s degree, you may leave out your high school.
If you have participated in any seminars or courses that have advanced your knowledge, you may also add those.
Below is an example of how to format your education information on your sales representative resume.
- 2000-2004 Astoria High School, High School Diploma Astoria, NY
- 2004-2008 NYU, Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration NY, NY
Skills section resume example: your attributes make a difference
A successful sales representative uses a host of skills not just to make an initial sale, but to keep customers happy and coming back again. In your skills section, you will be creating a bulleted list of your top 5-10 attributes. This section gives hiring managers a quick way to discern whether you have the qualities they are looking for, but also the qualities that you believe are the most important to accomplish your job.
Top attributes for a sales representative
- Subtlety: No one wants to be hit over the head with a sales pitch.
- Excellent listener: You have to know what customers need to sell.
- Resiliency: You’re going to get rejected and you’ll have to bounce back.
- Ability to Fit in Different Environments: Sensitivity to cultural differences and a broad worldview helps you connect with others.
- Deep Knowledge of Your Product: Enough said there.
- Multitasking: By its nature, sales requires you to juggle multiple deals in different stages.
- Extroverted: You will be dealing with people all the time, so it’s best if you are someone who gets energy from being social.
These are just a few of the attributes you need. Salespeople need great interpersonal and organizational skills, also known as soft skills. You will also need experience in sales applications such as Salesforce, knowledge of marketing techniques, and of course, excellent customer service skills.
Make sure you list the sales applications and any databases or other sales tools you know by name. Specific keywords, especially those mentioned in the job listing, will help you beat the ATS.
See more key skills and formatting for your resume below.
- Sales Strategies
- Marketing Techniques
- Excellent Communication Skills
- Product Knowledge
Choose the right layout and formatting for your sales representative resume
You know that looks count when you’re trying to sell. For your job search, your sales representative resume is your most important sales tool. You want to project the same image in your resume formatting you do when you meet with a customer: organized, neat, and professional.
Here are some rules of thumb to guide you in formatting and layout:
- Stick with a legible font and leave your margins at one inch
- If you choose to use color, keep it subtle
- Make sure your contact information stands out in your resume layout
- Don’t get cute with your section headings
- Avoid large blocks of type in your formatting by varying your line lengths.
One final word of advice: Proofread! Then have a friend or trusted colleague do the same. A formatting error or typo could cost you your dream job!
- Use your sales skills to pump up your resume
- Exhibit your professional style in your profile
- Give yourself an edge against the ATS by using targeted keywords and phrases
- Keep your design clean and professional
- Use Resume.io, the builder tool, and recruiter-tested free resume templates to create an impressive, expertly-designed and field-tested resume.
If you’re looking for additional inspiration for cover letter writing, you can check out our related sales cover letter examples :
- Sales associate cover letter sample
- Sales assistant cover letter sample
- Sales manager cover letter sample
- Sales executive cover letter sample
- Account manager cover letter sample