Creating Stellar Sales Resumes

Give them the cold, hard numbers to get employers to return your call.


Numbers speak for themselves. That makes sales resume the easiest to write, right?

Not necessarily. If they were, Mike DeLuca wouldn’t get so many resumes padded with fluff. Some examples:

  • Consistently exceeded goals
  • A uniquely balanced sales executive
  • At all my previous positions I have been an overachiever
  • Performed cold calls on a daily basis

DeLuca is a 20-year sales veteran from companies including Yahoo, HotJobs and EMC. He’s now senior vice president of sales at Yodle, an online advertising company that connects local businesses with consumers.

If you’re a sales pro who wants to work for a company that’s growing by triple digits, you should know that Yodle “can’t hire people fast enough,” in DeLuca’s words. The problem: The company isn’t getting as many qualified resumes as they need. Instead, they get fluff.

Salespeople need jobs, and businesses like Yodle need to see better resumes, so here are some tips from DeLuca and career coach William M. Gaffney on how to get the ball rolling with stellar sales resumes.

Get specific.

If you’re a salesperson hitting 200 percent of quota, that’s something you should be proud to highlight in your resume, DeLuca said. Contrast that with a vague phrase like “Consistently exceeded goals.” A statement like that “doesn’t tell me specifically what you’ve done,” he said.

List annual quotas/size & types of accounts.

Titles — especially in sales — and company names don’t always tell the story, Gaffney said. Employers can identify a fit more easily if they see what your quotas have been and the size and types of accounts you’ve sold.

Avoid puffy titles.

Gaffney’s seen more than his share of resumes from people who call themselves a “national account manager” but have actually sold to accounts of all sizes. “While the title may be the title the company gave them, it can look almost arrogant on a resume,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to explain who your target market was, your quota, etc.”

Show progression.

DeLuca likes to see progression on a resume, with professionals moving up the career ladder and taking on more responsibility, or exhibiting better performance, over time. “A lot of people get that wrong,” he said. “They … don’t look at the meat of what a hiring manager is looking for specifically in sales.”

Explain whom you worked for.

If a given employer isn’t a recognized brand like IBM or Coke, Gaffney suggests providing a brief description: no more than one or two lines.

Explain awards.

Gaffney advises job seekers who list awards to detail the qualifications for the award. “Saying received President’s Award tells me nothing,” he said. Here’s how Gaffney explains a similar award on his own resume:

  • Ranked in top 10 percent of sales force nationally three times in five years. Awarded Chairman’s Inner Circle one year for being in top 5 percent.

Ditch “salesman of the month.”

Unless you received this superlative several months out of the year, skip it, Gaffney said. “There are 12 months in the year, and if you got it twice, that’s nice, but doesn’t necessarily demonstrate above-average salesmanship.”