In my 14 years of hiring sales people for Metal Mafia, I have seen a lot of resumes--some good, some bad, some downright ridiculous. And I have learned that the best salespeople have resumes with certain things in common. I look for these things systematically now when I review resumes-- because they are the subtle indicators of stability, strategy, and ultimately, success. Here they are from the top of the page to the last word.
Objective. If the candidate has chosen to put an objective on the resume, does it gel with the objective I have for the person in the position I am looking to fill? I get a lot of candidates, for example, who write something like "to provide great customer service", indicating someone best suited to a customer service or support job, rather than selling, which is the main focus. I also dispense with those who say their objective is to "to grow with a company". I don't want a salesperson who wants to grow with my company, I want one who wants to grow my company herself.
Time on the job. Selling is not about the quick cha-ching, but rather, long term strategy, no matter how short your sales cycle may be. Anyone who has stayed at a job less than 1 year doesn't interest me. It either means she hasn't yet decided what she wants to do in life or that she has external instability that is affecting her dedication to her place of employment. Either way, my customers won't be well-served, because they want someone who takes the time to learn their needs, can be counted on to weather the ups and downs with them, and who will be their go-to person for longer than 5 minutes.
Selling activity. I see a lot of resumes filled with words like "coordinated", "assisted", "answered"...all of which are gatherer, not hunter terms. While the corresponding past job titles may indicate a "sales" type position, these verbs tell me the person applying was not really making sales happen, but rather helping out others who were in the driver's seat.
Outside activity. The best salespeople are well-rounded--and they use this wealth of interests to connect with customers of all different kinds. When they They have varied hobbies and interests, academic rather than business educations, and often choose challenges outside of work hours. People who run marathons, like to travel, speak foreign languages, enjoy reading, or love to cook are high on my list, because they all imply a willingness to discover, the desire to create and experiment with new techniques, internal strength and resilience--all the marks of top sellers.
Obstacles. If I see that someone has recently finished education that has nothing to do with the position she is applying for, it is a flagrant red flag. It means she is looking for something other than what my company can offer. By the same token, if I see unfinished education with recent dates, it usually indicates the person will continue their studies and thus may have outside constraints in terms of hours and commitment that will conflict with meeting my company's needs in a salesperson.
Lies. Bad salespeople are prone to exaggeration, and it comes through in the resume. If I see that someone went from being the VP of Sales and is now looking for an entry level position in the same industry, there is something amiss. If I read that a candidate exceeded all goals in less than 6 months and is now looking to leave a position, I have to wonder how true it is--after all, if he attained success so quickly, wouldn't he want to reap the fruits of his labor for longer than a New York minute?
Once all these dead-end prospects are eliminated, I can read the remaining few resumes for the skills and expertise offered, and start the recruiting process to further vet for the best candidate.