…and why yours might be getting rejected
Your CV/résumé is your initial sales pitch for a job, it’s a shop window into your career and it’s often the first contact most people will have with a prospective employer. However, as you can’t be there to deliver it in person or showcase your personality, how do you make sure your CV/résumé is saying all the right things and securing you that all important software sales interview?
At Animate, we recruit great talent for inspirational software companies every day, so over the years we’ve built up a profile of common mistakes people make when compiling their sales CV, what hiring managers really look out for and what puts them off. Here’s our definitive ‘top 10 things to avoid on your software sales CV’.
But what good’s a problem without a solution, so we’ve added in some advice on what you should do instead.
- The CV is too descriptive
It’s easy to fall into this trap, you want to get across that you have the right experience and can do everything the job requires. So you rewrite what is essentially a job description and call it your CV, focusing too much on listing your duties and responsibilities, rather than the outputs, i.e. what you delivered or achievements.
Instead, focus on writing your core achievement, making sure they’re aligned to SMART goals. Include inputs and outputs, for example: here’s what I did to achieve X.
- Not selling yourself
Not a great way to secure a job, especially a sales one. All too often hiring managers tell us it’s a big mistake to rely on statements such as “we did this” or “we achieved X”. Whilst every business wants a team player, your CV should be used to promote you first, not your team, instead make your team or departmental achievements an introduction to your specific contribution, make the story more personable and specific to you – again this is a big one for a sales role. Companies want to know what you have specifically delivered, not your neighbour.
- A one-hit wonder
Carrying on from number 2, it’s important to show consistency in results and performance across time, different roles and companies. Saying you were #1 sales rep in Q3 back in 2006 is great, but that doesn’t show the hiring manager a level of consistency they can buy into. Highlight your track-record in sales achievement across all your roles, show growth, even if you weren’t Top Gun. Don’t be afraid to show your failures. Most hiring manager’s will accept an occasional blip in a career. Focus on the positives, why it happened, what you learned, what you’d do differently next time.
- A lack of documented sales training
A lot of the CV’s we see have sales training buried at the bottom or not mentioned at all. Hiring managers want to see a combination of real-life learning and on-the-job experience, backed with structured and proven training techniques. How have individual’s learnt to sell, can they trust a candidate to deliver a certain level of competence or rigour, what do they know about industry standard best practices and proven sales techniques. Discussing the specific formal sales training you’ve received, how you’ve used it or adapted it and listing the sales training material you have will add credibility to your profile. Give it prominence and remember: a strong education and transferable sales techniques can compensate for a perceived lack of specific product or sector/industry knowledge.
- No evidence of continuous learning
Following on from the importance of previous training, another big turn-off for hiring managers is a lack of continuous learning. This is a sure-fire way to not get an interview, as you can bet your bottom dollar the competition are ready to discuss how they’re constantly improving themselves and their output.
Showing continuous learning also ticks another important box – coachability. A willingness to learn means you’ll adapt to new environments and systems well, without adversely affecting your performance. It also means less perceived stress down the line for the manager, as you’re more likely to be on the same page pulling towards the goal together.
- No energy or spark
Writing a CV is no different to writing a gripping story. It needs to grab the reader’s attention and excite them. Too many sales CV’s that land in front of a hiring or recruitment manager bore them to death and undermine an otherwise great candidate. Instead, think of your CV like a sales pitch and write it with a positive attitude, highlight the reasons why you’d be an asset to the company and what value you’d bring – you’re more likely to keep their attention and make the sale.
A good way to do this is to create an opening gambit – start by highlighting your biggest career achievements to-date. Bullet point your biggest successes, what you’re most proud of or where you’ve added the most value. Creating a buzz at the start of your CV is a great way of making you more memorable and gives the reader a reason to read on.
- Not being yourself
Don’t be a robot. Ticking off the job description with your CV won’t get you anywhere, instead put yourself into your pitch. Sales is about relatability and personality, so talk about you, your traits, your approach. Be proud and shout about what makes you great for this role – are you conscientious, respectful, do you use your initiate? Share it and prove it with anecdotal evidence from work life, home life, everyday life.
- Being too promiscuous
Employers aren’t fussed about your love life, but they do want to know why you keep hopping from job to job. It can be a major turn off if it looks like you didn’t stick it out anywhere too long, so always give a good reason why you moved on – no matter how long you were there.
- Where’s the proof of success
There’s a time and a place for trumpet blowing, and compiling your CV is it. We’re not saying you should bang on about your Crossfit regime, just keep it to any sales awards you’ve won or recognition you’ve received for being a top achiever. Have you been on the coveted “President’s trip”, have you won any accolades or received a bonus or promotion as a result of your achievements? Include how you ranked against your peers at your previous roles. The competition will.
- Where is their software product or industry domain knowledge
There are few industries that move at the same speed as software, with new products and solutions coming online almost daily. If you’re not on the cutting edge of what’s going on, you’re not adding value and even worse you could be a liability.
Hiring managers want to see how you’re keeping abreast of trends and developments within the industry. They know knowledgeable sales staff are more confident and credible in front of customers, which positively affects sales. So show how you keep up-to-date with the software industry and the challenges within your sector and customer base. How are you looking for opportunities to further enhance your knowledge base.
Now you’ve got a kick-ass software sales CV
There you have it, the 10 things to avoid when compiling a sales CV and some solutions to improve it and what you should be saying. Follow these insider tips and you’ll make your offering as rounded as possible, building a CV that gets you the interview.
Once you have your kick-ass CV why not get it across to us at email@example.com to see if we have anything relevant for you.
Co-founder & Director
Animate Search Ltd