As an executive recruiter that specializes in placing (I.T.) sales and sales management talent, I am often frustrated by the quality of the resumes I receive; even from truly exceptional candidates.  The problem goes beyond the job-seekers themselves, as “expertise” on resume preparation is as random as summertime showers in the Rocky Mountains.  So I will provide clarity for sales professionals based upon my keen knowledge of the pressure-packed dynamics of today’s hiring climate.  The perfect sales resume does not exist, but the structure I suggest will get your documents noticed in the forest of paperwork being reviewed by top executives.

After 32 years of listening to hiring authorities whom I am presenting resumes to for the purpose of job placement, my basic conclusion is that most resumes contain too much verbiage and too little attention to personal achievements to garner the attention of the typical hiring authority. So the phrase I quote over and over these days is “words don’t sell, number do!

All of my clients want to see the names of the employers that you work for, relevant employment dates and your titles. They also need a BRIEF explanation of your responsibilities – i.e. what you are/or have been selling and to whom.  Words describing products/services and your client names/list are very important to include.  But, please consider stopping there and moving on to the more eye-catching details.

The most impactful statements hirers need to see have to do with your individual accomplishments as a sales professional.  For instance, your quota performance, your rank amongst your peers, your biggest sales in revenue dollars, any awards you have received, any club trips, etc. are paramount.

Resume senders (i.e. writers) need to keep in mind that resume receivers are often too busy to carefully read your emailed paperwork.  Executive recruiters and most direct hiring managers are recipients of multiple resumes each and every business day; regardless of how many openings we are trying to fill.  So, we focus on key words and phrases that are meaningful and familiar to determine if the resume contains the basic credentials we seek.  If it does, then we look for what, if anything makes the candidates ‘credentials STAND OUT.

That is why you need to list your achievements in bold, concise, numbers oriented fashion.  Using ‘bullets” or asterisks to separate your accomplishments from your short description of your employment history is essential.  Do not blend your numbers into your statement regarding the types of products you are or have a history of selling.  This format will provide your target audience with the easily discernible facts he or she needs to see to separate you from the pack.

To this point, please consider keeping your summary of qualifications at the top of your resume to be very brief, as well.  Frankly, everyone’s summary of qualifications pretty much look alike and are skipped over by most professional hirers.  Plus, dissertations on “professional backgrounds” and associated statements just take up room that is almost always too lengthy and subjective for the executives to digest.

Today’s decision-maker puts a daily premium on efficiency.  Catering your resume to suit the reader of your credentials by keeping it factual and concise, yet containing the true highlights of your sales track record (regardless of how many years of experience you have) will get you and your data noticed.  Below, I have provided a basic format that I hope all sales professionals will find helpful and employ, to become employed or to find greater satisfaction in their moves up on their career paths.

K.I.S.S. Format

Jane Doe

316 Mockingbird Lane

Gulf Coast, GA  55336

316-662-9987 (mobile)

Professional Objective

To provide my next employer with increased profitability through exceptional sales performance.

Employment History

Xerox Corporation                                                                                                                          April 2011 – present

Sr. Account Executive

Responsible for selling document management software and services to the pharmaceutical industry in the states of Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia.

Personal Accomplishments:

  • Exceeded goals by performing   at 125% of $2MM quota in 2012
  • Chosen to Elite President’s Club in 2012
  • #1 amongst seven sales professionals obtaining new business by revenue in Q4 2011
  • Closed $450K document management services sales through personal prospecting efforts  to Bristol Meyers in 2013
  • Client list includes Phillip Morris, BB & J, Atlanta Medical, Bristol-Meyers and Eli Lilly, amongst others.

Wang Laboratories                                                                                                         December 2006 – April 2011

Account Manager (2008-2011)

Inside Sales Rep (2006-2008)

Responsible for selling…….etc.

Personal Accomplishments:


References available – include specific data of one of your best references if room allows.

This is an oversimplified version of the format I suggest, but in my opinion, this personal accomplishments/numbers-oriented resume is very effective because it is easy on the eyes, and spongy on the brain as it resonates with “where’s my next superstar?” sales managers.  Distinguish yourself by extinguishing most of your words and illuminating all of your true achievements.