Category
Recruitment musings

High-impact resume language for sellers

(Image courtesy of www.flazingo.com)

In August, Glenborn had it’s 7 year anniversary. In that time I have seen my fair share of sales resumes and linked profiles so I felt it was time to impart a bit of advice on some elements that make for a good sales resume. There is a lot of truth behind the 20-30 second scan rule where, after a quick browsing of your resume, I should have a very clear idea of what you can do and therefore be able to see if your resume interests me for a particular role. Here are the high-level things I want to know after such a quick scan:

IN THE HEADING FOR EACH ROLE

  1. Company (and specific division when a large company).
  2. Industry orientation (can also be implied by company name or division area but generally a good idea to explain what your company or division does)
  3. Time period worked at company
  4. Title / Function / Seniority . If your title isn’t descriptive of your function you should change it to make sure it is descriptive.That’s the easy and largely objective bit although formatting for the above is crucial and beyond the scope of this post – For the purposes of this post I want to focus on the more subjective area i.e…

THE BODY / BULLETS FOR EACH ROLE
These should include:

  1. Responsibilities description
  2. Achievements focus
  3. Vertical orientation (this can be either in responsibilities or in achievements with examples broken down by vertical.

The most prevailing and biggest flaw that I have seen over the years is a focus on task-orientation rather than achievement-orientation. This is sales after all and it is survival of the fittest so why aren’t the fittest strutting their stuff a bit more? Achievement and power verbs that revolve around growth and milestones really need to dominate task orientation which describes the static and often staid. For individual contributors, I like to see 5 bullets on achievements for every bullet on tasks / functional orientation. For managers sometimes the achievements are more coupled with the tasks so a 3:1 ratio of achievements to tasks can suffice. Managers can improve their achievement-to- task bullet ratios by weaving task-orientation into their achievement-oriented bullets so the base responsibility is implied in the achievement. Here are some ideas on how to create killer bullet points around achievement-orientation for each role:

ACHIEVEMENT-ORIENTED CONTENT

For both individual contributors and managers focus on

  • Large deals won (impressive absolute deal size, relative size viz-a-viz other deals in firm)
  • Major Logos won (broken out by vertical to make #7 very clear)
  • Performance versus quota (in percentage or absolute terms or both)
  • Growth in territory
  • Performance versus peers predecessors (ranking etc)
  • W2 performance versus OTE (in percentage terms only!)
  • Significant achievements / awards (e.g. promotions and presidents club)
  • Speed to achieve certain milestones
  • Breadth / range of solutions sold
  • Depth of pipeline / Speed to get to that level

For Managers focus on

  • Growth of team
  • Growth of revenue
  • Major achievements around changes in structure / culture / retention / training and development  / board interaction.

ACHIEVEMENT-ORIENTED VERBIAGE
For both sales individual contributors and managers / leaders, use power verbs to lead off your bullets. Examples include….

Deals  – Won, Closed, Led, Retained (for account managers)
Quota  – Overachieved, exceeded, beat , hit, out-performed, and, perhaps a little more cheekily…..smashed (!), blew out (!) crushed (!), demolished (!)
Relative performance – Led, ranked,  first to…(achieve milestone), out-ranked, out-performed, dominated (!),
Growth – grew, built, drove, accelerated, expanded
Achievements – won, recognized, achieved, promoted, elevated

For sales leaders and managers many of the same verbs used above can apply to growth of your team and revenue. For the achievements more specific to management here are some power verbs to start you off:

Initiated, created, conceptualized, led, established, overhauled, drove, built (from scratch?), refined, conceived, developed, enhanced, improved, implemented, improved, upskilled, cemented, rationalized, transformed, designed, architected, instrumental in…

TASK-ORIENTED VERBIAGE
In contrast, task oriented verbs for both Managers and individual contributors include some of the following:

Responsible for, managed, Sold to (obviously everyone in sales sells but closing / winning deals are very different!), Targeted, researched, tasked with, qualified (leads), carried (quota), updated (salesforce /crm etc), represented, member of (team etc), hired (can span both task and achievement depending on what follows!), trained, developed (skills, training plans etc)

These verbs are a necessarily evil and are to be used sparingly in comparison to their far more dynamic cousins above!

Try those to give your resume or LinkedIn profile an achievement-oriented kick. I will, of course, have missed a bunch so please feel free to add any of your own suggestions in the comments.