As a recruiter specialising in sales roles you might think that in our, still fragile, recovering economy that finding great salespeople would be easy.
Well, it is not! Good sales people are hard to find in any economy!
You feel you have some skills, people like you, you have the ‘gift of the gab, so why are you not getting interviews let alone offers?
I review hundreds of CVs, and LinkedIn profiles every week and the vast majority will never be considered for an interview let alone an interview.
As a sales recruiting agency we work on an exclusive, retained basis. This means that we are given a brief and then search for qualified candidates that fit the brief. We find them on LinkedIn, Viadeo and on occasion we will place advertisements on job boards and review CV databases. We also have a great network of employed, professional and highly successful salespeople that we may ‘head hunt’ for specific roles.
In other words the best sales jobs do not go to job seekers but to those who are already successful. There are exceptions, however, an salesperson does not reflect well on their sales ability. If they can’t sell themselves then how will they sell out client’s products and services?
That being said salespeople to make changes and should always have an up to date CV and a carefully groomed LinkedIn profile.
Let’s talk about the three main issues in any job search – CV, online profile, and the interview.
A CV is a sales tool and should present you in the best possible light. You should never, ever lie on your CV but you can polish your presentation. A CV is NOT a biography and does not need to contain every job you have ever held – leave the summer jobs off your CV if you have been in the workforce for more than two years unless the experience is particularly relevant.
List all of your contact information! I view CVs, everyday, that don’t list the city of residence! Make sure the contact numbers and email addresses are current and being monitored and record a voice message welcome on your mobile telephone.
Over 50? I am not ageist but don’t scream the fact that you are out of sync with the modern world by using your spouse’s email address. A couple of days or research will get you quickly up to date on all the newest trends.
Create professional looking email accounts for your job search. You may be ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ to your friends but that is not the way I want to think of you.
If you are new to the UK review what a standard CV looks like and follow that format. European CV styles vary and you don’t need your CV screaming the fact that you have no local experience and don’t really know how things work here.
Spelling is a basic but many people do not check carefully and this will hurt you. Don’t trust spell check. Print your CV and ask three or four locals to review it.
Keep design simple and easy to read. If you want to express yourself more deeply a web-based CV is an option that will allow you to fully present yourself in the most creative way imaginable – this really works for certain industries.
The key thing to remember is that the goal of a CV is to get you an interview. Keep that goal top of mind!
How to spice up your resume without lying:
- Dates – put years and not months on the resume
- Creating a consulting job to cover gaps in employment – change your resume layout to functional or hybrid style.
- Education – if adding it dishonestly – don’t! If you didn’t finish entirely – put, “Studies in Business” instead of “Bachelor of Business.”
- Job Title – put the one on your business card or your official title
- Compensation – put in a range – mid to upper 50s. Then you aren’t lying but not blowing negotiations either.
- Reason for leaving – don’t put this on a resume at all – mention in the interview the positive circumstances surrounding your departure.
If you’re in sales and do not have a LinkedIn profile that is a huge red flag. This suggests you don’t understand social media or self promotion and those are essential to selling today.
Hide your Facebook page completely. Photos of you drunk, silly posts, or even your friends with can seriously hurt your chances of getting an interview so keep it out of the conversation. I ALWAYS do a Google search of any candidate I am considering for an interview and so make sure your online profile reflects you in the best possible light.
LinkedIn is an essential career tool and a great profile will get you noticed by recruiters, and will get you more interviews. Join groups that show your career interests and make certain your profile is complete and reads well. Do some research and learn the best approach. Make certain that your profile photo is professional and show you in the best possible light. If you love your spouse of children that is great but neither belongs in your profile photo – it is not a good choice.
Recruiters or employers do not like to take chances and so a generic presentation is best. A dark blue suit, white shirt and modest tie are the best choice. Women should do the feminine version of that. Be clean and well-groomed. If you are a heavy smoker clean or freshen your clothes and your breath – nicotine stain fingers are a real turn-off.
If you are on a serious job search a visit to the dentist to make sure your smile is white and healthy can’t hurt your chances. Loosing a few pounds can help you look younger and make your clothes fit better. Get rid of long sideburns or trendy haircuts – again, employers don’t want to take chances. Dress to hide any tattoos and remove any piercings. Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and lean slightly forward – this will give the best impression. Shake hands when you arrive and leave and ask a friend if your handshake is effective.
Read your own CV carefully and be prepared to any questions. If you left a role under negative circumstances be honest but never show anger, resentment or speak badly of a past employer – people might think you will do that of them. Better to say ‘ I had a rare personality conflict with my direct manager’ or ‘the company was moving in a direction that was not in tune with my career goals.’
Do take a ‘no’ personally and don’t waste the contact. I have told many people they were not the choice – some thank me and ask if I could consider them for future opportunities and some fail to respond or get angry. Which reaction do you feel would serve you best? Lot’s of second and third choices are eventually hired and as a recruiter if I like the way you have performed and you are professional I will work hard to get you placed. Never waste a connection.
Invest in yourself!
Most people don’t spend more than an hour on preparing a CV, send it out randomly to as many companies as possible, put little or no time into preparing for interviews and fail to even try to develop a working relationship with recruiters.
As a sales professional, every aspect of your presentation should clearly demonstrate that you understand how to present a product in the best possible light, effectively sell the features and benefits and close the deal! In other words – sell yourself!
Be better and do better!