Step 8: Polish Your Resume
Polish Your Resume
SalesHQ.com; Kim Isaacs & Peter Vogt
Selling yourself to an employer is your first challenge, and your resume will be your sales pitch.
Sales resumes need to be results-oriented, emphasizing how you will contribute to your employer’s bottom line. Start by creating a profile or career summary that highlights your relevant skills and value to potential employers. Include the main reasons an employer should call you for an interview, and clearly show your areas of expertise and industry knowledge. For example, if you are pursuing a pharmaceutical sales representative position, those keywords and your supporting knowledge should be in the profile. This section is perfect for exhibiting the drive, energy and enthusiasm that is so important in the sales profession.
Document Your Achievements
A need to continually achieve is key to sales success. Prove you are an achiever. Document your three biggest victories, and be prepared to reel off a list of at least seven other significant wins in your life from school, sports, music, class politics, etc. You will achieve again for the employer, because past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. You may not have sales success, but you have had success in other areas. Success leaves clues.
It’s deceptively easy to make mistakes on your resume and exceptionally difficult to repair the damage once an employer gets it. So prevention is critical, especially if you’ve never written one before. Here are the most common pitfalls and how you can avoid them.
Avoid Common Resume Mistakes
1. Typos and Grammatical Errors
Your resume needs to be grammatically perfect. If it isn’t, employers will read between the lines and draw not-so-flattering conclusions about you, like: “This person can’t write,” or “This person obviously doesn’t care.”
2. Lack of Specifics
Employers need to understand what you’ve done and accomplished. For example:
A. Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.
B. Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant with $2 million in annual sales.
Both of these phrases could describe the same person, but details and specifics in example B will more likely grab an employer’s attention.
3. Attempting One Size Fits All
Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.
4. Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments
It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume. For example:
• Attended group meetings and recorded minutes.
• Worked with children in a day-care setting.
• Updated departmental files.
Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. They’re looking for statements more like these:
• Used laptop computer to record weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference.
• Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance.
• Reorganized 10 years’ worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to department members.
5. Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short
Despite what you may read or hear, there are no real rules governing the length of your resume. Why? Because human beings, who have different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned, will be reading it.
That doesn’t mean you should start sending out five-page resumes, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don’t feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don’t cut the meat out of your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page standard.
6. A Bad Objective
Employers do read your resume’s objective statement, but too often they plow through vague pufferies like, “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth.” Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own. Example: “A challenging entry-level marketing position that allows me to contribute my skills and experience in fund-raising for nonprofits.”
7. No Action Verbs
Avoid using phrases like “responsible for.” Instead, use action verbs: “Resolved user questions as part of an IT help desk serving 4,000 students and staff.”
8. Leaving Off Important Information
You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you’ve taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the soft skills you’ve gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think.
9. Visually Too Busy
If your resume is wall-to-wall text featuring five different fonts, it will most likely give the employer a headache. So show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.
10. Incorrect Contact Information
I once worked with a student whose resume seemed incredibly strong, but he wasn’t getting any bites from employers. So one day, I jokingly asked him if the phone number he’d listed on his resume was correct. It wasn’t. Once he changed it, he started getting the calls he’d been expecting. Moral of the story: Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details — sooner rather than later.
Coverletters should NEVER be one size fits all. Think of resume cover letters as jalapeno peppers-small, but packing a wallop. Stating specifics that attract you to that company will show HR that you have done your homework and know you are a fit.
Get tips on how to write a killer cover letter.