In over 5 years of recruiting sales professionals and having read and reviewed literally hundreds of CVs, I am constantly amazed at the poor quality of CVs that Sales people will write and submit to represent themselves. There is a wealth of information on ‘how to write the best CV’, and there are plenty of ‘CV Experts’ who will recommend a certain style or format that is supposedly in vogue.
THE AIM OF THIS ARTICLE is not to tell you how to write your CV, but how to prepare yourself and use your sales skills when writing your CV.
What is the point of the CV?
First of all, before you even put pen to paper, you should be clear of the purpose and objective of the CV. Why are you even bothering to write a CV? What do you want it to achieve? In my opinion, the ultimate aim of the CV should be to sell yourself to the recruiter and to secure you an interview. This may sound obvious, but I guarantee that most people do not even give this a second thought.
If you are clear that this is your objective, then you must now decide how to sell yourself.
Selling yourself – Be the product!
You are the product! You have features, benefits and Unique Selling Points that will be of interest to the recruiter and you have to decide what information is most relevant. This is not as easy as it sounds. You have to present a lot of information about you and your career, and create a positive feeling in 2-3 pages of black and white. It is at this point that most people fail because they do not think about this and do not take the time and effort that is really needed.
How to sell yourself?
Writing a CV, and selling yourself is not rocket science. If you use the sales skills that you have been trained in, and apply them to this process you will succeed.
If you fail to prepare, you must prepare to fail Before you sell your products to a GP, you will have been thoroughly trained and have the necessary details aids to in increase the chance of making a sale. Equally, before you apply for a new position, you must take the time to prepare your CV so that it effectively sells yourself and achieves the goal of getting you invited for an interview. If you do not take the time to prepare your CV properly, you should not expect to be invited to interviews.
Create the right impression The success or failure of a sales call is determined within the first 30 seconds. When you visit your GP you are probably smartly dressed, looking professional, and armed with well presented and interesting detail aids. You would not see a GP wearing ripped jeans, a dirty T-Shirt, armed with a scrap of paper and seriously expect them to buy from you.
The same can be said about your CV. If a hiring manager reads two CVs and one is smart, well presented, and shows that the person has put some time and effort into the preparation, whilst the other is poorly presented, littered with spelling mistakes and shows that little effort has been made, which one do you think they will be more interested in?
Know your customer As a solution sales person, you have been taught to sell the features and benefits that are most relevant to your target audience. When writing your CV, you should think like a hiring manager. If you were recruiting, what information would you want to see in a CV?
For example, if you are applying for sales roles, I would expect that the hiring manager would want to know the territory you cover, who you are selling to, what products you sell, your targets (call rates, sales, etc), and your successes and achievements. Just saying that you are a Medical Representative for XYZ Pharmaceuticals is not enough. Do not save all this information for your brag file, as you wont get a chance to show this if you don’t get an interview.
Empathy for your Customer As a sales person, you must appreciate that the GP is a very busy person and has probably seen at least 5 other reps that morning before you. Therefore, if you can provide them something that will be of interest and make their life easier, you still have a chance of making the sale.
When applying for a job, you must appreciate that a hiring manager may have at least 10-20 CV’s to read, and will only invite 3 or 4 people to an interview. By making your CV concise, easy to read, with relevant interesting information, and making their life just that bit easier, you have a greater chance that they will want to see you.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself When you go into a GP’s surgery, if you don’t sell your product, you won’t achieve your targets. Equally, if you don’t sell yourself in your CV, nobody else is going to do this for you, and you won’t achieve your goal of getting an interview. And if you can’t sell yourself in your CV, a hiring manager will have doubts about your ability to sell their products. As a sales person, you must demonstrate your ability to succeed. Hiring managers do not want to read your job description; they want to know if you are going to make a difference to their business.
People buy from people. Your GP is more likely to buy from you if they like you.
A CV is a very personal document, yet the toughest part of writing a CV is getting your personality to shine through. You have to use your style of writing and the content to bring this out.
Preparing a good CV is not just about what you write, but how you write it. If you apply the sales skills that you have, and take a little bit if time to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it, you should be able to write an effective CV that will do its job and secure you to an interview. Don’t drive yourself mad either. You can constantly tweak and change your CV. But, at the end of the day, if you believe that the CV is a good representation of you, your skills and your abilities, then it probably is.