The Outdated Method for Showing Work Experience
A particularly common mistake sales professionals make when displaying their work experience is providing a timeline of organizational experience instead of relevant work experience. Such a timeline might look like this:
- 1995-1998, sales executive for Sunset Corporation
- 1998-2000, sales representative for Amway
- 2000-2004, senior sales executive for Knives Galore
- 2004-present, sales team leader for XMC Corporation’s North American division
A strong resume does much more than list the employers for which a candidate previously worked; it showcases the specific skills the candidate gained while working for those employers. If your resume does its job, the interview will boil down to niceties and negotiations.
How to Display Work Experience
Displaying work experience on a resume has two components:
- showcasing relevant work experience
- showcasing an accomplishment record
Five Functional Headings That Are Relevant to Sales Experience
Below are the five functional headings under which the work experience of a sales professional falls. You do not need to place your experience under headings, but headings don’t hurt, and they make your resume look more organized.
- Selling existing products to existing clients: Briefly mention the producer, the product, the time period, and any relevant accomplishments.
- Selling new products to existing clients: Briefly mention the producer, the product, the time period, and any relevant accomplishments.
- Selling existing products to new clients: Briefly mention the producer, the product, the time period, and any relevant accomplishments.
- Selling new products to new clients: Briefly mention the producer, the product, the time period, and any relevant accomplishments.
- Team leadership and project management: Mention the organization; briefly describe team statistics and responsibilities, your role and responsibilities as a team member, any projects handled, any relevant accomplishments, and the time period.
Employers look for sales expertise in the five areas listed above. They know that sales professionals who have acquired work experience in these areas have solid fundamental skills and can be relied upon to perform well. Your chances of securing a job increase considerably when you display work experience on your resume that clearly focuses on these five relevant areas.
Accomplishments can be categorized under these five headings or grouped together as a separate accomplishment record. Simply listing the organizations you have worked for or the products you have sold in the past as work experience means little to prospective employers. Names of past employers, names of products sold, and the length of time you have spent in the industry cannot guarantee your employability; however, relevant work experience backed up by an accomplishment record will make you an attractive sales job candidate.
Weitzul, James B. Personality Traits in Professional Services Marketing. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1994.