When it comes to landing a good sales position, your CV is critically important. After all, it is the one document that actually gets your foot through the door of an interview.
You have to consider that your CV may only get between 10 and 20 seconds of evaluation before it is either placed in the follow-up pile, or it is consigned to the waste bin. If your CV doesn't 'pop' within the first few seconds of being read, you can wave that sales job goodbye.
Let's take a look at some tried and tested tips that can help get you through the initial stages of presenting your CV so that you have a better chance of making it through to sell yourself at interview.
The first step is to present a CV that is easy to the eye and very simple to read. There really is no excuse these days to present a sloppy, visually unappealing CV. Doing so would instantly get your application assigned to the recycling bin.
Choose a basic font for your CV text that is clear, crisp and easy to read. This is especially important if you are applying for a sales role in a company that uses electronic CV screening technology. Using a font with a flourish may make your CV look pretty, but if it cannot be easily read either by scanning equipment or by the human eye, it will quickly be discarded.
Never use a font size that is less than 10pt. in size. Believe me, no-one is going to even consider squinting to read your CV with a font size any smaller than this. Also, try to keep your CV to a maximum of two pages in length at most. Multiple-page CVs are also very off-putting for manual readers to consider, especially where they may be faced with long days of sorting through hundreds of applications.
Recruiters are busy people who will be in a hurry to skim over your CV looking for that key information that is a requirement for the job. Make it easy for the reader to easily spot your key information by placing it at the start rather than have it contained in a summary at the end of your CV.
You would be doing the recruiter a favour by doing this as they will not have to spend a lot of time and effort searching out the keywords they are looking for while scanning your CV. Summarising your skills at the top and tailoring them to fit the needs of the sales job on offer can often act as a short-cut to getting your CV into the interview pile and be a pleasure for a time-conscious recruiter to spot.
After searching out and finding the key skills they are looking for within a CV, a recruiter will then most likely turn their attention towards your work experience and job history. They will want to see that you are coming from a suitable background that involved working in a similar role before.
Remember to include a very brief job description to explain each role you held. As job titles can vary from company to company, sometimes they never quite capture or explain what you actually did while working there. Never assume that your recruiter is going to understand exactly what you did before from your job title. What may be obvious to you isn't necessarily going to apply to this company.
If your recruiter has managed to read this far down your CV page, then you need to keep them engaged and interested in you and what you can offer. You can hold their attention further by listing your accomplishments and achievements which will act to leave a lasting positive impression.
Remember though that what you put here must demonstrate actual results. Be specific with your data, so don't just say that you managed 65 sales accounts in your last job – tell them that you managed accounts with a net worth of £10 million. Tell them that you increased your sales revenue by 12% in six months or increased your customer base by a third in a three-month period. Impress them! Sales recruiters hire on results – give them some good ones.
Finally – refine, edit and proof-read your CV until your eyes roll out of your head. Get two or three other people to cast a critical eye over your CV to help spot any spellings mistakes or errors that you have missed. Only submit your CV for consideration when you are 100% satisfied it is ready and ticks all the boxes as outlined above.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of CV writing service StandOut CV. He is also a regular contributor to publications such as the Guardian and Business Insider
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