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CV Preparation

Introduction

The first thing everybody thinks of when it’s time to get a new job, is ‘CV’. Your CV will invariably invoke one of two reactions. Either the recipient will be interested (sometimes even excited) to give you a call, or will not be bothered in the slightest and will divert your application to the bin.

You get one chance to make a first impression and the CV is to get your ‘foot in the door’. Bad CV’s risk not getting the meeting with employers and consultancies. I shall therefore try to point out some of the positive and negative CV features to hopefully help you get the meeting.

Positive Features

‘Professional’ is the key word. Your document must be of the right length (ideally no more than two pages) and of ‘Professional’ appearance. Remember that you are in Sales and that, rightly or wrongly, sales people are constantly judged. Whereas people in other industries, for example media, will try to make their CV stand out, you should not take any unnecessary gambles.

Keep the layout and the font simple and conventional. Ensure the layout is clear. Make sure that you list your most recent role first and work backwards, ensuring that all dates are accurate. It is the content and your proven track record which should make you stand out. Ensure that the entire content of the CV is relevant. The more relevant the better – a bespoke CV is always better than a generalised one. Give the buyer what they want and ensure that you emphasise your achievements.

I have listed below key areas which you can emphasise and use as your ‘hooks’ to interest prospective employers / consultancies and get you that meeting:

  • Sales Training: Make sure that you include relevant courses you have attended such as TAS, Miller Heimann, etc.
  • Target Achievement: If you have performed above target list this (as a percentage) and in terms of revenue generated.
  • Comparative Performance: How many sales people do you operate alongside performing a similar function? Where do you rank? If you are number one, say you are number one. If you are number three out of a UK Wide sales force of fifty, use this as a selling point.
  • Awards: You have probably received more than just salary in terms of remuneration, yet not everyone states other benefits accrued due to good performance. Awards sometimes make for interesting reading and talking points, especially things such as ‘presidents club’, sales person of the year or biggest deal. List the location of any trips won.
  • Best deals: Not enough people detail their best deals for each employer which can help the reader visualise you winning similar deals for them. People are often wary of divulging certain information and often a confidentiality clause can preclude this. The key when you describe a deal is to give detail (even if you want to conceal the name of the company), selling Supply Chain Management (SCM) software and services (solution sold), worth £120k initially and then recurring (deal value). The sales cycle was 6 months.’
  • Order Values: If your order values are high this is evidence of your salesmanship.
  • What level do you deal at? If you deal at senior board level state this – it is another selling point.
  • Detail ‘sales’ attributes: If you are dynamic, resilient, self-sufficient, hungry, innovative and over-achieving then state this – and state why. Use ‘action-verbs’ such as ‘over-achieved’ and ‘won’.
  • Bespoke your application wherever possible: Perhaps you have sold software and services and the company you are applying to is more of a services led organisation. Of course you should not give any untruths but you should emphasise all the ‘services’ elements of the role and service orientated deals.
  • Always offer at least two referees’s who will speak positively about you.
  • Follow up your CV either to the company or the consultancy with a telephone call to confirm that it has arrived and sell yourself before hopefully setting up a meeting. Remember that there is a fine line between selling yourself and being pushy so be careful.

Negative Features

  • Too long: Everyone knows that sales people like to talk. However waffle on your CV is bad practise and an essay style bibliography is unacceptable.
  • Personal Photograph: No matter how good looking you think you are – don’t put your picture on it. This could just be my own personal opinion but I don’t think having your ‘mug-shot’ on their helps much.
  • Spelling errors / grammatically incorrect: This shows poor attention to detail. Always spell check and even get someone to have a look over it just to be sure.
  • Lengthy Gaps in Employment: If the gaps include voluntary work or training then you can include them in the ‘skills’ or ‘qualifications’ sections of your CV.
  • Incorrect contact details
  • Interests and Hobbies: Ensure that you put only relevant interest down and don’t take any risks.
  • Lack of Relevance: Don’t just send your CV everywhere. Ensure that there is at least some synergy between your background and the target company.

To conclude, your CV should be a professional sales document and it should highlight your successes.