So you are applying for sales jobs. Is your CV good enough to impress the recruiters you approach? Sloppy grammar and a lack of basic information won’t help your cause. It’s also important to dazzle sales managers with the right blend of personality and achievement, so here are some tips on how to put together a standout sales CV.
Writing a successful CV is easy once you know how. In a nutshell, it’s case of taking all your skills and experience and tailoring them to the job and company you’re applying for.
For first jobs and graduate jobs you may be applying for trainee sales roles or selling advertising space and subscriptions. Graduates for a wide range of academic backgrounds get hired each year in sectors such as FMCG, utilities, technical, pharmaceutical and financial services.
What are employers looking for when recruiting sales staff?
For most sales roles – at all levels – you’ll need to be target-driven and financially motivated, with excellent communication and presentation skills. For telesales jobs where you will be cold-calling and talking to regular clients it’s essential to have a good phone manner with the ability to build rapport quickly and listen and respond well. You may need to be quick mathematically, and good at analytics if you are studying sales figures. Tenacity, resilience, and an ability to think on your feet and build long-term relationships are also important.
Other skills to include and bring to life on your CV are integrity, professionalism and honesty.
An outgoing personality and bags of confidence are what most sales employers are looking for, so if your CV and covering letter can reflect this, so much the better.
Remember that HR people are short of time!
So don’t make your sales CV difficult to read. It should be neat and clear enough for a recruiter to scan and understand very quickly.
It will really help the employer appraise your key skills and work experience, and determine whether you’re appropriate for the role, if you offer a clear, uncluttered layout.
Include all the basics
Remember that the CV contains vital, basic information about you, so make sure to include your correct address and up to date contact information; education and qualifications; work history and/or experience; relevant skills to the job in question; your interests, achievements or hobbies; and two references. This should all fit onto two pages of A4 – definitely no more!
Smart presentation is essential
If your CV will be sent in paper form, make sure it’s printed in black ink, and not in any way crumpled or stained. Pay attention to what is known as ‘the CV hotspot’ – the upper middle area of the first page is where the recruiter’s eye will naturally fall, so make sure you include your most important information there. Some people choose to list a few ‘Key attributes’ here – making sure they are relevant to the travel job you are applying for.
In terms of design, don’t be temped to cram in lots of words with a very small font. It’s better to arrange text with space around it, experts say. Use bullet points and text boxes and an easy to read font such as Arial or Verdana to ensure a clear layout.
It also helps to use bold font for the main headings – ‘Education’, ‘Work Experience’ and avoid the use of underline, and too many confusing sub-headings.
It’s worth asking a friend to proof ready your CV, as often computerised spellchecks don’t pick up every error.
Remember that unless you are advised otherwise by the recruiter, your CV should be accompanied by a cover letter.
Do your homework about the company
Gain insights that other applicants might not have, by spending some time learning about the company you’re applying to. Look online to see what their company culture is and what kind of people succeed with them. Is there a new advertising campaign you can watch on YouTube to get a flavour of what the company does? Look on Facebook to see if there are clues about the direction the company is taking, and the recent work employees are doing. Showing you have similar experience and interests might give your CV the edge. Then if you do get an interview, you already have a basic understanding of the organization and what they do and aspire to.
Understand the job description
Many jobseekers fail to use the job description to help them tailor the CV land a job. The job description will be full of clues about what the hiring company is looking for, so read the details very carefully. Then make sure your CV and covering letter are tailored as closely as possible to this. If the company says you need to be a team player, make sure you mention successes you’ve had as part of a team. Do you need to demonstrate management skills, communication skills or have used a certain IT system? Include it all. It will pay off to include as many examples of what they are looking for as you can. If you don’t have certain skills they’re after – perhaps basic selling skills – you can mention transferable skills – a part time retail job you had as a student, for example.
Make the most of skills, interests and experience
Remember that skills can come out of the most unlikely places, so think about what you’ve done to grow your personal skills. This could be from taking part in a local sports team, joining a voluntary group or organising a charity event. If you speak a second language this is worth mentioning too.
Include a diverse range of interests that make your sound really interesting and personable. Under interests, highlight the things that demonstrate skills you’ve gained and that employers are looking for.
It’s not worth including ‘passive interests’ like clothes shopping or watching TV, and remember that solitary hobbies such as fishing and model building can be perceived as you lacking in people skills.
In the experience section, use assertive and positive language such as “developed”, “organised” or “achieved”. For example “developed a new system for customer relationship management”, “improved sales by 20% in a 12-month period”.
Really spell out the valuable skills and experience you have gained from past work positions, even if it was just working in a café. It could all be seen as relevant experience.
Don’t forget the references
All CVs need to have one or ideally two references – traditionally at the end. Referees should be people who you worked for in the past, because they will be able to vouch for your skills and experience. If you’re looking for your first job, you’re OK to use a teacher or tutor as a referee. It’s good practice to let each individual know you are adding them to your CV as a referee.
Your finished CV should highlight that you are the perfect match for the job in question, so make sure you get it right. Good luck!
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