salesman resume

The Most Important Skills to Look for in a Salesman’s Resume


Sales positions receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of applicants. With a hefty volume of resumes, hiring managers need to have a clear idea about what they’re looking for so they can narrow the selection before beginning any interviews.

Comb salesmen’s resume for these essential skills.

Hard Skills

Compared to other careers, the hard skills needed by sales representatives are less clear-cut. Many of them relate to methodology rather than ability. These technical skills are highly applicable, nonetheless.

  • Project Management – Sales is a goals driven field. Salesmen need to be able to plan, implement, and evaluate campaigns from start to finish. Skim resumes for concrete examples of leadership.
  • Marketing – Sales is one smaller component of marketing. A salesman should have a basic understanding of various marketing strategies that assist sales, from social media marketing to promotional giveaways.
  • Public Relations – As a representative of your brand, a salesman should be able to create and reinforce positive impressions of your company. This skill is easier to evaluate during a sales interview, but hiring managers should still skim resumes for client-facing work experience.
  • Research – Like PR, research exhibits itself in many forms on a resume. It could be market research, data science, or even journalism, so long as it shows they can learn the ins and outs of a product or phenomenon. Salesmen need to be research gurus in order to convey knowledge about their product or service.

Soft Skills

Just as necessary as hard skills, soft skills are what make a salesperson approachable and relatable. They are the secret sauce to a sales pitch, the necessary charm that prevents prospects from slamming their doors. These traits can sometimes be found in the skills section. Other times, work experience hints at them.

  • Empathy and Adaptability – While not synonymous, these two attributes work hand in hand. Highly empathic people can sense potential clients’ sentiments and adapt their sales pitch accordingly. This valuable skill helps them maneuver around opposition during sales interactions.
  • Proactivity – Sales demands more autonomy than other business careers, so a sales representative needs to exhibit time management and self-motivation. Look for self-guided projects where they took risks. It can be as simple as a shoe drive or as ambitious as a university startup, but it should be an undertaking that they organized and carried out themselves.
  • Teamwork – While you want someone who is dependable while working on their own, you also want a team player. Forbes says that it’s a red flag when salesmen don’t play well with others. Sales works in a system, so positive collaboration is vital to ideate, coordinate, and boost morale.

A Note About Soft Skills: Reading Between the Lines

While soft skills are difficult to pinpoint on paper, there are subtle ways in which the structure of a resume demonstrates selling ability.

Resumes, like a sales pitch, are best kept short and sweet. They should focus on major highlights from each position as they apply to the job description. Less is more. A well-designed resume won’t take more than one page to convince you. Alternatively, long winded resumes forebode lengthy sales pitches. And since brevity is the soul of wit, steer clear of salesmen who have yet to master a succinct presentation.

The Goldilocks Skill: Communication

No skill lives more in the grey area between hard and soft skills than the ability to communicate. While bearing a close resemblance to a soft skill, the ability to communicate requires practice and mastery like a technical skill.

  • Often classified as a soft skill, communication is interpersonal and individualized. While some salesmen build trust with their sincerity or integrity, others engage clients with their optimism.
  • On the other hand, because communication is learned, it also counts as a hard skill. Look for experience showing mastery of these communication techniques.
    • Active Listening – Salesmen need to be able to listen to clients and address their individual concerns.
    • Rhetoric – The art of persuasion is knowing when to appeal through logic versus emotion, depending on the audience and product. It is a businessman’s sixth sense.
    • Multimedia Transmission –  A hire should be eloquent in both verbal and written communications. Toss any cover letters with poor writing.
    • Customers Service – Customer service is more than a single sale; it’s acquiring and maintaining clients. Relationship building is vital because loyal customers are the most profitable.

Key Benchmarks

While customer service skills are often implied, there are a few explicitly stated achievements to look for on a resume.

  • Track Record – Pay attention to the price point and volume that a candidate sold in the past. Does it match your company? If they sold high quantities of low priced products in the past, they may not have enough experience to sell items at higher price points, or vice versa. Also look for metrics that indicate performance, such as how they improved sales growth or exceeded their sales targets. If they added value to a business in the past, they can likely do it again.
  • Certificates – What does the candidate’s education in sales look like? While a business degree is sufficient, look for other training programs they’ve pursued. A salesman who has supplemented their experience with resume builders will continue to seek opportunities for growth at your company.

Recruiting Help

Sales is an umbrella term which includes several positions requiring different skill sets. Ideal applicants for entry-level sales roles are different than those for sales manager positions. As a hiring manager, it can be difficult to see the subtle differences in qualifications that each position demands. When this is the case, it’s a good idea to look outside your company for guidance from a recruiting firm. Sales recruiters understand the nuances of each position. They’ll comb through hundreds of resumes and cover letters for you, leaving you with the best of the best for your sales team. In order to make the most of their expertise, fully integrate recruiters, and maintain timely communication. Treat them as business partners, because they are. 

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Written by

Ty Culver is the Client Development Director of CulverCareers focusing on talent acquisition and workforce solutions with a wide variety of local, national and global clients.

Ty has been working in various aspects of the industry for over 10 years and developed deep expertise in Executive Search, Executive Benefit and Talent Acquisition Programs along the way. He has a range of experience from SMB to Enterprise clients and hyper specific executive searches to high volume recruiting with companies in a dynamic state of flux.

Today, Ty leads a talented team of Talent Acquisition Specialists, Executive Recruiters and Client Success Managers at one of the most respected Recruiting Firms in the Nation, CulverCareers. While leadership is a key aspect of his role, Ty still enjoys working with clients on recruiting strategies, executive benefit solutions and workforce solutions to help clients build a holistic approach to talent acquisition and talent retention.

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