Perfecting Your Resume: How to leave a great impression in six seconds

Think about how long you spend reading the terms and conditions before accepting a software update. That’s about as long as you have to stand out to a hiring manager. A mere 6 seconds (give or take).





So, how do you put those six seconds to work and shine through a pile hundreds of resumes tall?







Here are six tips (one for each second) to help you make your sales resume pop!


1. As far as formatting goes for your resume: keep it plain, Jane. A plethora of bold colors, unusual fonts (“here’s my resume, it’s in Comic Sans”), and wacky layouts will certainly make you stand out…just not in the way that you’d like to for a corporate sales role.

Keep the layout uniform and simple; section delineators should be formatted consistently throughout, and the experiences housed within them should be arranged in chronological order. What’s most important about the way your resume is presented is that it reads logically, and the information the hiring manager needs from you is where they expect it to be.

While we advise you not to play around too much with the layout and formatting, you can and should make smart, sparing use of colors and font shapes to help guide the reader along. Just remember to keep your inner Picasso in check.


2. Resist the urge to include a photo of yourself in your resume- even if it’s arguably the best photo anybody’s ever taken of you, and your mom has it strategically framed in every room of your family home.  It’s always best to simply let your experience speak for itself.


3. Show don’t tell. Skip the Summary/Objective/Profile section. Hiring managers care about your experiences, not about your perception of your experiences. Anything you write in a summary section should already be coming across in the bulleted descriptions of your listed experiences. “Dedicated manager with excellent interpersonal skills” becomes “Managed a 5-person team and maintained 100% retention throughout 2-year tenure as team leader.” Which one sounds more convincing?

Note: the one exception to this rule is when you’re seeking an industry or function shift in your career. The Objective/Summary section is best utilized when it describes something that can’t be represented through experience to-date.


4. Better a resume be short and sweet than puffed and fluffed. This one is especially important for all of our entry-level friends. Unrelated interests and experiences can often make for good interview small-talk. Unfortunately, the most immediate effect of including too much unnecessary information is drawing attention away from your relevant experiences, which hinders the hiring manager’s ability to quickly discern whether they’d like to open a conversation with you to begin with. As a general rule of thumb, your resume should only be over a page if you’ve really seen the sights and climbed the highest peaks in your sales career.


5. Can I have your number? Be sure to highlight specific, quantitative achievements. When it comes to sales resumes, numbers and metrics ring louder than the first of the five alarms you set to wake yourself up in the morning.


6. Lights, cameras, action verbs! Make use of strong verbs to emphasize your actions--think: led, generated, drove, impacted, created. If the same action is repeated multiple times throughout your resume, try your best to swap in a good synonym; this is an excellent opportunity to showcase your verbal prowess. As you do this, however, make sure you’re using language that could feasibly be a part of your everyday vernacular; you want the voice in your resume to sound like the best version of you- whether that be you four cups of coffee deep, or you on a rock n’ roll day where you say all the right things in all the right ways.  


Your resume is a hiring manager’s first impression of you. While the most immediate function of a resume is a summary of your professional experience, resumes also provide managers a window into important qualities like writing skills, attention to detail, and even selling ability (how you convey your personal brand). Give your resume the time and attention it deserves, and you’ll be on your way to the interview in no time.