sales resumesFor a lot of people hoping to land a new sales job, it is a priority to create a resume that is search engine friendly. Unfortunately, this often leads to resumes that are less succinct and are jammed with keywords which distract from the accomplishments and abilities of a salesperson.

To those of us that make a living separating good from great salespeople, a poorly written or confusing resume can be a signal that someone is not all that capable. And, by the way, we are pretty strong when it comes to separating the good from the great (96% success ratio in picking salespeople over the last several years).

Here are some of the worst words and phrases that find their way into sales resumes with a tongue in cheek explanation of why we’d rather not see them:

Responsible for …

– Hiring managers aren’t as much interested in what a salesperson was supposed to do versus what the salesperson did do.


– Kind of like saying motivated….I think. Maybe? Wait it might mean that they want to achieve results but can’t. Not sure. Why not just identify the results that have been delivered which implies a familiarity and comfort with driving for results?

Well rounded

– Hiring managers care about hiring someone who can sell. They don’t care what shape the person is.


– Everyone who has worked one day in their life has experience so using this word doesn’t say anything about what makes the resume’s owner unique. Superfluous.

Seasoned veteran

– Does this mean the sales rep comes with pepper and cajun spice? I would rather see years served which tells me a bit about maturity.


– One of the most overused words and least understood. In my career, I have heard about 500 different perspectives of what constitutes a team player (some of them contradictory) and if I saw that on a resume, I would have no idea which of the 500 definitions was being referenced.


– We see this a lot in conversation, but the adjective means not having the form of gas or liquid, which is good I suppose, but usually doesn’t give us much insight about sales capabilities.


– Ever changing? Energetic? Not quantifiable and will be measured subjectively depending on who is measuring.


– Everyone is motivated or at least they should be. But can the rep sell better than the rest?


– Opening a resume with the career objective of the job seeker is like starting a conversation with a prospect with how much commission you want to make. How about a summary of what the rep does well and the tangible results delivered to employers?

Contentious and hard worker

– This one is more of a typo. Sales reps that want to make a good impression proof read their documents before sending them to a prospect.


– A hiring manager is looking at a resume and seeking to hire an individual so they are interested in what the sales person did, not what the sales person did with their friends.


– When someone describes themselves as a creative sales professional, I wonder if the person is trying to tell me they like to paint and do artwork on the side? And then I wonder if they can sell, because they haven’t yet answered that question.

What We Like To See

It’s simple. We look for results and examples to support claims of talent. The best salespeople let their accomplishments do the talking and as we have said before, the best resumes say a lot by saying a little, so if you are reviewing a group of candidates for your open sales position, watch for candidates who use superfluous words and resume filler that distract from what really matters.

To your success!

image courtesy of nuttakit |


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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