By Matt Krumrie
I recently had a resume client who told me these exact words after submitting his resume draft to him:
“I don’t feel like this highlights me as The Michael Jordan of Sales.”
I was a little surprised, to be honest. The resume was a good one. It highlighted all his successes, biggest achievements, sales history and revenue/business generated, proof of accomplishments and language that would set him apart as a leading sales person in his field – print advertising. It referenced him as a top producer, told how he generated new business and retained clients and listed him as a top three sales person out of 50 in his territory.
So when he got back to me and said “I don’t feel like this highlights me as The Michael Jordan of Sales” I was a bit perplexed. I thought “is there something he has done so extraordinarily well that is missing?”
Turns out, nothing was missing and this new version was a considerable improvement over the original he was previously working with. He was upset I removed his previous experience in a band and in real estate, both which did not match his future goals (more on that below).
But it got me thinking. Is there a Michael Jordan of resumes? What would it take to create the world’s best resume?
So I asked a recruiter who I trust very much, Rick Deare of Deare & Associates, a sales and executive search firm about this. I said “Rick, just what would make this resume the Michael Jordan of sales resumes?”
I told the story of this client to Rick, explained his background and goals. I told him how I had to convince this client that the fact that he was in a band, while pretty cool indeed, wasn’t going to help get hired in medical device sales. I had to tell this client that his experience in real estate was not going to get him hired in IT sales. This guy was extremely talented no doubt and I was very impressed by what he had done.
The problem was this, and what so many other people who write their own resumes encounter – they want to include their entire career biography into the resume. I always tell clients this – a resume isn’t a career biography, it’s a marketing tool that quickly shows an employer that you have the skills they are looking for and that they should bring you in for an interview to meet you and see if you can expand on what your resume says and if you are a fit for their company and culture. The resume is your step towards an interview. It’s your sales sheet when networking, it’s your bridge to a future meeting or interview, an introduction to your successes. In other words your resume should match your next employer’s needs, by taking your accomplishments and successes and tailoring it towards that industry, company and job needs.
Here is what Deare said:
“From your brief description, his accomplishments seem to be impressive but to parlay these into a Michael Jordan of sales resume may take more than the mighty pen of a professional writer,” said Deare. “In no way do I mean to discount his achievements but a “Michael Jordan of Sales” resume might require some bullets such as these:
- Highest sales revenue ever achieved in the history of the print advertising industry.
- Wrote and published the New York Times Bestseller “How I Became the Michael Jordan of Sales” with a forward by Harvey Mackay.
Deare was kidding (sort of), but his point was this:
“In order for a recruiter or hiring manager to be so wowed by his resume as to consider him the best that ever was, he may have to augment his accomplishments with some extraordinary eye-catching achievements that supersede those of other solid/top performers,” he said.
Deare added these additional thoughts:
“A resume for a print advertising salesperson, no matter how great the performance history, is not likely to impress a recruiter or hiring manager in the medical device, biotechnology, software and many other industries,” said Deare. “Domain/Industry experience is as much an attention grabber as the bullets. In interview selection, it’s about professional relevance. As a recruiter, the Michael Jordan of Sales resume might hit my desk but if my search criteria involves 7+ years of experience in the software arena, the resume isn’t going to get more than a brief scan. To their credit, many professional salespeople will not readily accept the idea that industry relevance, product/service or specific business knowledge/experience is as important as selling skill. While I recognize their point, you really need to be the Michael Jordan of Sales to sell that at the hiring manager level.”
“If your client is following traditional job application routes as a job seeker, he may benefit from some knowledge about modern recruiting/HR technologies at the corporate level. Applicant tracking systems automatically screen resumes for specific types of experience like the industry experience mentioned above. He may also benefit from having a job search strategy that involves leveraging the new resume in pursuit of relevant opportunities. He probably needs to understand that even that Michael Jordan of Sales resume isn’t going to make it through the ATS if the content doesn’t specifically align with the nature of the position posted.”
I get many questions about resume format. I feel the format I use is clear, concise, short and to the point and powerful. I don’t like long-winded resumes that include lengthy paragraphs and are not backed up by proof of accomplishment.
Deare discussed resume formats.
“I don’t believe there is a single “best” resume format, but there is certainly a “right” resume format and a maximized individual approach,” he said. “A professional salesperson needs to produce a resume that is factual, brief and on point relevant to sales experience, performance history and selling skills. It doesn’t have to be boring, shallow or tame but it is a written resume and has some limitations inherent to the form.”
As a sales and executive recruiting specialist, Deare reads a lot of sales resumes. Here is what wows him:
- Industry relevance: Does this individual have the specific experience we are looking for?
- Performance ranking: “#1 national sales performer 2008-2012 in a field of over 50 Account Managers.”
- Revenue: “Average yearly revenue 2008-2012 of $6.2m”
- Margin: “Average yearly gross margin”
- Relative contribution: “Contributed 54% of local revenue as 1 of 9 local Account Managers.”
- Company contribution – how individual successes translated into team and company successes.
- Record setting achievements and awards – single client, monthly/annual revenue, etc.
- New business breakthroughs – new major account successes
- Existing account increases – with strong evidence of exceptional client relationship/client service skills
- Public, volunteer, community, charitable giving
The bottom line is this: The best resume won’t get you noticed if it’s not the right fit. No matter how great your experience is, it has to fit what the employer needs. Show that and you will get noticed, even if it’s just the Scottie Pippen of resumes.
Want the Michael Jordan of resumes created for you, or better yet, one that will get your noticed?
Hire Matt Krumrie to write your resume and get noticed.