Even if you are very happy in your current role, you never know when the perfect opportunity is going to knock at your door. If you’re not prepared, you’ll be juggling writing a compelling CV with work priorities so you’ll either miss the boat or produce a slapdash effort that won’t hit the mark.
There have been a few advancements in recent years with CV and resume templates which can make this a quick and fun exercise. So now you don’t have to be the creative type for your resumé to have a good visual impact, but you do still need to populate it with the right content.
At Teem, we have one of the highest CV to interview ratios in the recruitment sector. Here is what we know the majority of our clients are looking for on your CV.
1. Less is More
Hiring managers do not like waffle so stick to the facts and headlines which they can drill down on in an interview. You should particularly reduce the detail as you go back through your career. Employers will be much more interested in what you have specifically done in the last 3 to 5 years.
For your early career: a) Company & date of employment b) job title c) one stand-out award/achievement will suffice.
Two pages are the ideal length for a resume. For 25+ years of experience then three pages are permissible BUT this doesn’t mean cram everything into a tiny font.
Do include your full employment history – an early career in the armed forces or teaching, for example, is usually seen as excellent front-line experience for a career in software sales and can be a nice talking point for an interviewer to pick up on.
2. Continuity of Tenure is Resume Gold!
Good tenure is a great selling point and you certainly don’t want prospective employers to miss it.
Include months as well as years for the dates of employment on your resume. If you only include the years (e.g. 2010 to 2013 IBM followed by 2014 to 2015 AWS) then one could assume this represented leaving IBM in Dec 2013 to start with AWS in Jan 2014. However, Hiring Managers can have a keen eye for detail coupled with a healthy dollop of scepticism, so these dates could represent a much longer break.
Likewise, if you worked for a company that was acquired, and you continued to work for the acquiring company, then make this clear on the resume to show the length of tenure.
E.g. If you worked for Hybris for several years before SAP acquired them and then continued to work for SAP for another year you could show it like this:
“March 2011 to September 2014 | SAP (Acquired Hybris)”
You can list the different roles you may have held during this time with dates underneath.
3. Show Achievements Not Responsibilities
The number of resumes I see where you can tell someone has cut and pasted their job spec is disappointing… Nobody cares what you were supposed to have done, they want to know what you did do.
Sales achievements focus heavily on numbers so, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! I love to see a sales resume that leads with the track record of annual revenue targets and % achievement listed.
What if your track record is not as strong as you would like? Well obviously don’t make it the headline but do include some data that shows you can close deals, consistently.
Here it is important to use ‘hooks’ to attract a potential employer’s attention, for example:
- Who did you sell to?
- What did you sell?
- How much did you sell?
E.g. Engaging at CFO level with the Fortune 500, selling the new EPM SaaS offering with deal sizes ranging between $100k and $500k ACV, closed 7 net new logos in my first 12 months. Referenceable clients include AXA, JLR and Aldi.
Other achievements of note could be your sales ranking e.g. #1 salesperson EMEA for the cloud division or awards such as attending Presidents Club or Rookie of the Year.
4. Don't Make Assumptions
It’s fair enough to assume if your employer is a well-known brand like IBM or Oracle, people will recognise the name. But it’s worth specifying the division/product you focus on as you don’t know what outdated perceptions an employer could have. Not many people at Xerox sell photocopiers anymore!
At the other end of the spectrum, don’t assume that people will know what a 50 employee, pre-IPO company does. Explain clearly and concisely the value proposition; after all, if you can’t do this then you shouldn’t be in sales!
EeeBahGum provides a cloud-based learning platform which empowers your employees to quickly interpret and communicate with people in Yorkshire, allowing them to conduct business effectively and maximise revenue streams from ‘God’s country’.
5. Let’s get visual
Until LinkedIn dominated the professional networking/recruiting scene, profile photos were perceived as a bit cringeworthy. Now they are par for the course…but can still be a bit cringe if you don’t get it right! There are plenty of separate articles on just this one topic, but my view is to keep it friendly and professional and a headshot only. It’s not an opportunity to show that you love your family (a given), that you partake in extreme sports, own a llama, or to show off your finely turned ankles.
Using one of the resume templates mentioned earlier can help display your academic qualifications, sales training, languages in an impactful and visual way. You can also sneak in a small personal section to include any charity work involvement or any worthy causes you help champion in the workplace such as diversity or mental health.
6. Address the Job-Hopping Question
Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes short moves are beyond your control. The best software salespeople in my experience make the call early if something is not working out so it doesn’t bother me at all when I see someone with relatively good tenure leaving a job after just a couple of months.
What does concern me (and software sales hiring managers!) is when we see a resume of someone who has moved jobs every 11 months for the last 5 years. This often means they have either taken the wrong job through desperation or hung on at a company where they are not performing until the decision to say goodbye is taken for them. Ironically these people are often very good at interviewing.
If you have a poor patch of tenure with breaks or moves, then communicate the reason as clearly and concisely as possible on the resume – you may never get the opportunity to explain if you don’t secure an interview.
A good software sales recruiter will be able to address this for you with their client, but if you are sending your resume directly then this is especially important. If there are gaps in your resume that could intimate job-hopping, address them with your reasons for leaving.
Below I have listed several examples of RFLs (reasons for leaving) that are acceptable:
There are plenty more tips to creating an A* software sales resume but these should go a long way towards getting your resume hiring manager ready.
Still, need some help? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org