How to Write a CV For a Sales Job

By Graeme Jordan (CV Writer / Interview Coach / professional Marketer)

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So, you can sell services and products. It has been part of your whole career. Or you’ve had previous experience elsewhere, moved over to sales and led your entire office and your field. So, writing a CV? That’s just about selling yourself, right? Well, you’re the pro so it must be easy!

There is some truth in this.

But there are various reasons why selling yourself is a little different:

  1. Writing a CV should be approached as a marketing strategy rather than a sales campaign. Your product, the message you are trying to convey and your desired audience are changing variables.
  2. There are different rules, as you don’t have the freedom to do it in any way you please.
  3. Before you can start communicating yourself effectively, you need to have a good level of self-awareness.
  4. There are no colleagues available to feed you the ‘product knowledge’.

Some areas are quite similar though, such as:

  • It’s about bridging the gap between supply and demand. If an opening doesn’t exist then you can’t create it. However, you can create a ‘want’ where there is an existing ‘need’.
  • It’s about being ahead of your competitors in ways that your target audience value.
  • Stay up to date. Always be aware of upcoming opportunities in your market and respond to them as soon as possible.
  • Listening comes first, then communication.

Below, I have outlined the areas that differ:

Developing your personal marketing strategy

Think in terms of a marketing strategy - you have to decide what your product is. So essentially, what value can you offer your future employer? Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds. People fall into the trap of answering in a very generic way, providing responses such as ‘I am a reliable, hardworking employee who can work well both in a team and as an individual.’ But this goes against the very purpose of a CV – to stand out from everyone else.

Another common mistake is talking about the very basics of your skill set rather than your higher levels of skills that will elevate you over other candidates. This often happens to senior level candidates as they have a set idea of what they believe should be on a CV.

It is about concentrating on the right details to highlight your capabilities.

Then, as part of this process, you have to identify your target audience: Which companies, in which sector(s)? Once these questions are addressed, you can start sculpting the core messages within your CV.

If you don’t follow these steps, you could end up being like a double-glazing salesperson, trying to offer people benefits they don’t require.

What are the rules?

It’s about understanding the rules of the game. For instance, there is certain information that is expected to be on your CV such as contact details. If your CV lacked these, then it would be unusual and obviously ineffective. It would also be unusual if no part of your CV included a section on your employment history (listed chronologically, ideally in reverse).

However, the key is to balance this level of conformity with a level of creativity so that you can still present your unique information in a way that best expresses you. This is how you get yourself chosen.

How self-awareness will improve your CV

You need to be able to cultivate your ‘value proposition’ to your future employer. This comes from having self-awareness. Knowing what makes you special compared with similarly-qualified candidates will give you the advantage. It’s the product you are trying to sell the employer.

You need to pinpoint things that highlight your level of performance. For example, how do you rank compared to others in the same job? How did you perform in terms of hitting your targets? Have you brought anything new to your field?

In summary, make sure your personality shines through on your CV but also make sure your specific achievements take centre stage. ‘Creativity’ for its own sake has no value. Only do it if it adds relevance. Most importantly, focus on what the employer tells you they are looking for. With this knowledge, you can then provide evidence to support it. 

 

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