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Jared Hamilton
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Brian Bowman

Brian Bowman Chief Marketing Officer

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7 Things we look for in Sales Applicants Finding a job in today's economy is no easy chore. As companies downsize, file for bankruptcy, or shut down completely, the number of employers hiring naturally decreases and the byproduct is that we also have more people looking for jobs. Unfortunately for the employee, employers can now afford to be more selective when hiring. Despite the woe of the general perception on the economy, companies are still hiring. This week I attended a job fair hosted by a local WaMu branch that is closing their doors on 400+ employees. At this job fair, there were 30 different local companies all looking for qualified candidates to fill open positions. Certainly there are fewer options available right now in the job world, but there are options. Reply! is gearing up for 2009, expanding our sales teams dramatically. We're receiving resumes from a variety of people with all different backgrounds. While different companies and different positions all have their own requirements, here are some things that I typically look for, or overlook when interviewing inside sales candidates. To Cover Letter, or Not to Cover Letter?
They say you can never be over-dressed for an event. Whether or not the posting you're responding to requests a cover letter; submit one. Keep it precise and give the reader a quick synopsis on why you should be considered. In today's market, most managers don't have the time to read every cover letter and yours won't be read if it's intimidating to the eye. Avoid long paragraphs and save the rapport building for the interview. At the same time, not sending a cover letter is a mistake; it wreaks of "resume-blasting."
Do Your Homework
Time is money and in today's world, managers are commonly being spread thin. Department heads are busy, and their time is more valuable to their company than ever before. Learn as much as you can about the company and the position you're applying for, before you show up for the interview. It blows my mind when I ask an interviewee "how much do you know about our company" and their response is "not very much, I was hoping you could tell me more about it today." You lose credibility and your lack of research translates in to lack of desire. I don't like wasting time - yours or mine.
Cross Your I's and Dot Your T's
Yes, I did that on purpose... So many resumes are submitted with out being spell-checked, but it can't stop there. Spell check not catch improper use of "too, two, to, etc." The same applies to proper punctuation and capitalization. It won't leave a lasting impression on your potential future employer when there are fifty other applicants who know the difference between proper nouns and nouns. After you've triple-checked your resume, have three other people read it. If the third person still finds an error, get a fourth person to read it.
Include Length of Employment for Each Position
Many resumes are submitted with only the year range of employment provided versus the month and year. When a resume says "Senior Sales Executive........2007-2008," it gives the indication that perhaps you only held this title from December 2007 to February 2008. If there were jobs you held for only a brief stint, be honest instead of trying to mask it through exclusion, as it will most likely come to question during the interview. If you've had a streak of working for failed start-ups, honesty is the best policy. And if the position was less than four to six months, it's probably not worth mentioning.
Bullet Points, Not Life Stories
Many candidates provide details on previous responsibilities and accomplishments; use 3 - 5 bullet points for each job and include quantitative information. Long paragraphs intimidate readers and I'll usually end up not reading it at all. Just give me the bottom line and support it with date. Instead of saying "I was a very hard worker, I was always on time, and I exceeded my quota almost every month in 2007," try saying "Dedicated, punctual employee, met 125% of 2007 sales revenue quota." It's easier to read, but also shows that you measured your own performance.
C-Level Applying for Entry-Level?
I'm a skeptic of resumes laced with President, Founder, CEO, EVP, or other titles that would make any employer question why a former executive is applying for an entry-level position. I appreciate an entrepreneurial candidate that wants to join our sales force; if you ran your own business and truly were the President or CEO, try changing your title to something like "Entrepreneur, Self-Employed, or Sole Proprietor." Unless you truly do have a history of senior or executive management, a resume that goes from "Bank Teller, Washington Mutual" to "President and CEO, Johnson Holdings, Inc." will be scrutinized. Unless you're applying for a lateral move, humble yourself and pick a less suspicious title.
Invest In Your Paper, Invest In Your Future
Always, always, always bring multiple copies of your resume to an interview. Showing up without a resume is amateur behavior. Assuming you've got that part down, remember first-impression is everything. Invest in some quality paper to print your resume on. Use paper that is heavier than regular copy paper and carry it in a hard portfolio that won't bend or crumple the paper before you show up. Off-white colors are okay too, but keep it subtle. And use a laser printer; if you don't have one, Kinko's does. I've been accused of being a picky interviewer, but I'm impressed with people that bring resumes on nice paper. It shows attention to detail, but more importantly the resume stands out in the stack that piles on my desk each day. In a sales call, you have thirty seconds to make a first impression, and you never have a second chance. Submitting your resume is the true window for first-impression. You give what you get; if you want to be considered for employment in today's economy where there are more resumes floating around than actual work, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Practicing what I preach, I've condensed fifteen pointers down to seven hints. Hopefully these hints provide some insight on we look for when recruiting for inside sales. I look forward to your comments and feedback.
Rudd Lippincott

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