The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Sales Resume

As a salesperson, it’s critical to have a sales resume that showcases your unique value proposition, details the quantifiable impact you’ve had throughout your career, and compels a recruiter or hiring manager to bring you in for an interview. This guide is meant to give sales professionals the actionable tips to create a resume that helps you take the next step up the sales ladder.

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In theory, a great salesperson should be able to write a convincing resume that ultimately gets the reader to take action. After all, that’s what sales is – understanding your audience and creating a pitch that showcases the features and benefits of your product or service. In the case of your resume, the product is YOU.

Eleven Must-Read Books for The Serious Job Searcher

Back in the days before I had a wife, two little girls, a growing business, and a honey-do list the size of Texas, I used to read a lot. I even got to read for pleasure. Now, I only get to read in those precious few minutes of solace before going to bed.

I do my best to keep up on the newest books in the personal branding and job search categories, and the following list represents what I think are the best books to help the ambitious professional excel in their job search.

HeadStrongBookHeadstrong: The Keys To A Confident And Positive Attitude During Job Search by Tim Tyrell-Smith A typical executive-level job search lasts an average of six to nine months, which means there will likely be some periods of disappointment and frustration. Tim Tyrell-Smith’s book lays out a nice blueprint to help you keep a positive frame of mind to endure the job search grind.

Trends for the Now, the New, and the Next in Careers

In late 2012, nearly 100 of the top career coaches, career counselors, resume writers, college and university career professionals, military career transition specialists, and outplacement consultants gathered to ” brainstorm best practices, innovations, trends, new programs, new processes, and other observations that are currently impacting, and are projected to impact, global employment, job search, and career management.”


They released their findings in a white paper that was posted on the Career Thought Leaders website where it can be downloaded for free. Check it out here.

LinkedIn Founder’s Advice to New Graduates

Ben Casnocha, Reid Hoffman’s co-writer for their recent book The Start-Up of You, posted an excellent Slideshare presentation that gives some direct and honest advice to new graduates about how to approach your career in today’s rapidly evolving job market.

In the presentation Hoffman, acknowledges that college is supposed to prepare graduates for the workforce, but the traditional work world is changing faster than ever and graduates are finding themselves ill-prepared. Hoffman outlines three critical areas that all new graduates need to carefully consider as they choose their career path.

Infographic – How Applicant Tracking Systems Read a Resume

One of the pillars of an effective, well-written executive resume is the usage of relevant keywords that can be easily read and processed by a company’s Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). Companies set ATS parameters to automate the resume screening process by searching for relevant keywords and phrases that they’re looking for in potential candidates.

Unfortunately, these systems can only read a text-based resume with clear headers and body content. Meaning, job seekers who are sending out graphics-heavy resumes or the trendy infographic resumes are at a major disadvantage when trying to break through the ATS firewall.

Below is an infographic from that details how a resume is processed by an ATS. Enjoy!


How To Impress Employers With Your References

Professional references tend to be an afterthought in the job search. The vast majority of people simply shoot an email to a handful of past and current colleagues or managers and let them know that somebody may be calling them. Instead of viewing a references a mere formality, you should consider using them as yet another way to impress potential employers and stand out amongst the throngs of other candidates.


Before we show you how to add a wow factor to your references, let’s review some seemingly obvious mistakes to avoid.


  • Don’t provide them with your resume. Or mention on your resume that References Are Available Upon Request. It should go without saying that you will have references and nobody needs to see them until you are further along in the interview process. Plus, mentioning your references on the resume takes up valuable space where you could be talking about other, much more important things.

  • Don’t forget let to your references know that somebody will be contacting them. The last thing you want is for somebody to be blind-sided by an HR manager. First, ask their permission to use them as a reference, and if they agree, give them plenty of notice and maybe even remind them of some specific characteristics or achievements they could mention.

  • Don’t have all your references come from the same place. Even if you’ve only worked for one company, branch out and ask a long-term client, business partner, or fellow member of a community organization to speak on your behalf.

  • Don’t ask for a letter from your current manager – if they don’t know you’re looking for a job. There are much better ways to tell your current company that you’re open to other opportunities outside the company.


So how can you avoid sending HR managers the same old boring references page that everybody else presents? Step outside the box and create a References Dossier that goes beyond the traditional list of name, job title, company, phone number, and email address. Yes, you’ll still want to include that information, but in addition to that, describe how you know the person, what your working relationship entailed, and specific skills and accomplishments that this person can detail.

Here is an example of a References Dossier I wrote for a recent client. Feel free to use it as a template the next time you need to submit your references.

References Dossier Example


Writing a Winning Resume for an Experienced Worker

You have a few years of work experience under your belt. Perhaps it’s more than a few years. You need a fresh start or just a new opportunity to sink your teeth into but you aren’t having any luck. Could it be your resume isn’t showing off your experience properly? Perhaps you are not looking so hot to a recruiter. With a few expert resume writing tips, you could end up with a fantastic resume that gets the call back time and time again.

experienced job seeker

How To Approach The Dates

One of the biggest problems older workers have is trying to fill in a resume with consecutive dates. You may even feel like you have to go through your work history and list out every single place you’ve worked, when you worked there or how long you worked there. That’s not necessary. Here are some tips to keep in mind:


  • Most of the time, recruiters are interested in the last 10 to 15 years. They don’t need or even want to look back 25, 30 or more years over your history. Don’t include something that’s too far back unless it really shows a valuable skill you’ve learned or earned.
  • Watch your length. If you have decades of experience, it’s easy to find yourself with page after page of work history. That’s a turn off instantly to any recruiter. Who wants to go through pages of material for 10, 15, or even dozens of applicants? Keep it short and concise instead.
  • Are you worried about your education? Sure, you were graduating high school about the same time the recruiter was born. It’s more important to list where you went to school and what you accomplished there. Leave the dates off your education. You don’t want the recruiter to think it’s too outdated either.


Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to remember all of those dates. It’s better to keep the copy clean and simple to read and understand.

Which Format Is Best?

It’s ideal to choose a reverse chronological format. In other words, keep your more recent working experience at the top. You’ll want to ensure that the most relevant experience is listed so that the recruiter can easily see exactly what you have to offer and why you are a good choice for the company. Don’t overlook the importance of this. Functional formats, on the other hand, tend to allow red flags to stick out. Do you really have the necessary experience and skill? The reverse chronological format is often the ideal choice because it simply makes you look good.

What Are Your Accomplishments?

One of the biggest mistakes a more experienced worker can make is having an “experienced” style resume. Yes, you have worked 30 years and that’s a good thing. But, having a “back in the day” conversation with a recruiter, isn’t going to help you to land the job. Recruiters want you to be vibrant, modern, and up to date in your education and job skills.

That’s why it’s so valuable to ensure your resume shows your accomplishments rather than the number of years you’ve worked at a location. Here are some tips to help with this aspect:


  • What did you do at your last job that was above the norm?
  • What is the highest position you’ve held during your career? What title did you hold?
  • What did you help your previous employer to accomplish, earn, or achieve?
  • Did you break a sales record? Did you launch a new product?


Even if it is a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of things, it’s still going to be valuable if you’ve done it. Make sure your resume focuses on this rather than how many years you’ve worked at the company.

Using Technology Can Help

The next thing to ensure you’ve included in your resume is your technology experience. A big mistake you can make as an older worker is to leave this option. Why? It’s simple. Most recruiters are using technology to find candidates. Even more importantly, if you are an experienced worker, you may seem out of touch with the use of technology. You don’t want to be seen as someone with no ability to flip on a computer!

  • Incorporate any and all software you know how to use in your resume.
  • Ensure any type of application that’s industry-specific is mentioned in your resume. Be sure this is an up to date, modern list.
  • Include links to your social media profiles – if you don’t have them, create them. If you have a blog, include that, too.

This shows you are skilled and capable of using modern technology. That’s a key component in nearly all situations.

Design It Right

Finally, be sure the design of your resume is modern, contemporary, and easy to read. Writing a resume for an experienced worker doesn’t have to be hard nor do you have to do this on your own. Turn to a recruiter or hiring manager you know for feedback on your resume. On the other hand, you can hire a resume writer to handle the job for you. This type of resume is going to turn heads and get attention. That’s exactly what you need to land the perfect job.



Five Reasons Your Cover Letter May Be Killing Your Job Search

Many recruiters and hiring managers will tell you that the cover letter is a dying breed, and in a lot of cases that may be true. With the automation of the applicant screening process and the sheer volume of resumes that companies see each week, the cover letter is no longer a required part of the application process.

cover letter

However, in certain situations, a cover letter is a welcome complement to the resume and can go a long way to helping you secure an interview. And unfortunately, if you don’t have a sound strategy for the letter, it can also help ensure that you DON’T get called in for an interview.

Here are five major mistakes that job seekers make with their cover letter:

1) It’s boring. A cover letter is meant to be an attention grabber – something that entices the reader to want to read your resume and find out more about you. In contrast to the much more formal resume, a cover letter can be a bit lighter and showcase more of your personality. In addition to showing why you’re a good fit for the position, try to show that you’re interesting and would be fun to work with. Qualifications are only one part of the hiring equation. People want to work with people they like, and a boring cover letter doesn’t do anything to convince them that you have a shining personality that will be an asset to the company culture.

2) It’s vague. We often counsel our clients that a cover letter needs to be tailored for a specific role at a specific company. Hiring managers can sniff out a generic cover letter from a mile away, and it’s a major turn-off. Proven to them that you’ve done your homework on the company and understand their specific market, unique challenges they may have, and why your background would help them to solve their unique challenges. 

3) It’s all about you. The reader doesn’t really care why getting hired at their company would be a great thing for you personally. They’re not hiring so that they can fill some void in your life or help you take the next step up the financial / professional ladder. They’re hiring because they need somebody to come into their organization and solve a problem, whether that would be establishing new business development channels, coming up with a new marketing strategy, managing large-scale IT projects…whatever. So don’t make the letter about you; make it about them. Tell them specifically what it is that you can do to help add value to their organization.

4) There are no accomplishments. Don’t save all of your accomplishments for the resume. Use the cover letter to list a few of the biggest contributions you’ve had in recent roles. You want the reader to be envisioning how you can be a valuable contributor for them, and there is no better way to do that than by showing, specifically, how you have done that for previous employers.

5) There’s no call to action. Any effective piece of marketing needs a strong call to action. Your cover letter needs one too. At then end of the cover letter, you should briefly summarize why your skills and experience would be a good fit for their company and ask for an interview. Make yourself available via email and phone and politely request that somebody reach out in order to discuss the position in more detail.

To see what we can do to help you put together a personalized letter that helps you win the all-important interview, check out our cover letter services.

Why Most Resumes Kind of Suck…And What to Do about It.

Every single day, people from all over the country send me their resume because they’d either like me to review it and confirm that they’re on the right track or they’ve realized that they need the help of a professional to get it up to snuff. Either way, the resumes are usually not very good – to put it nicely.


After nearly nine years of writing resumes for a living, I think I’ve finally realized why most people’s resumes are so uninspiring. It’s not because these folks aren’t very smart or they haven’t had a great deal of success in their career…because they are and they have. It’s because most people approach their resume as a task and something that has to be done. A necessary evil, if you will.

The average resume that I review typically has one (or more) of the following issues:


  • The format is outdated because they’ve kept adding on to an old resume
  • The resume has few achievements that prove their value in each role
  • The summary, if there is one, is vague and not targeted appropriately
  • It’s structured in a way that is too dense and very difficult to skim
  • It includes all sorts of tactical and extraneous information


People don’t purposely set out to write a crappy resume. They just don’t give it the attention it needs to stand out and tell their story in a unique and compelling way.

Change your approach

The first thing you’ll want to do if you’re serious about having a resume that doesn’t suck is change your mindset. Your resume isn’t just a document that you send companies that have a job you want to apply for. Your resume is an extension of you, and oftentimes, the first impression that hiring managers or recruiters will have of you. Why on Earth wouldn’t you want it to be a personal marketing tool that effectively encapsulates who you are, what you’ve done, and what specific value you can bring to an organization?

Think back to your first date in high school or college. I know for some of you that was a long time ago, but I’m sure you remember the preparation that went into making sure that you were putting your best foot forward. For the ladies, you probably spent twice the amount of time getting your hair and make-up just right. And guys, you probably wanted to be sure you were wearing the perfect shirt and the right cologne. You did this because you knew that you only had one chance to make the perfect first impression, and that the chance of a second date hinged on the success of the first date.

Take it on yourself

If you’re a motivated job seeker and plan on tackling your resume yourself, you’ll need to 1) educate yourself on contemporary resume writing trends, and 2) carve out the necessary time it will take to create a resume that works. A failure to not do either of those things will essentially guarantee that you’ll end up with a resume that isn’t effective as it could be.

For the do-it-yourself resume writer, there is no shortage of excellent resources out there to point you in the right direction. I’d start with Resume Mastermind’s How to Write an Awesome Executive Resume series. Susan Britton Whitcomb wrote a book a while back that continues to be the industry standard for basic resume writing instruction.

Get a little professional help

The second option, of course, is to work with a professional resume writer. While there will be a more substantial financial investment, it makes sense for a lot of people to outsource the project. Even if you do hire a resume writer, you still need to provide information and feedback throughout the process to ensure the best possible outcome.

Whether you choose to take it on yourself or hire a professional, make it a priority to do it right.