Five years of experience or more, a top earner in their last role, outstanding recommendations from previous supervisors — yes, these seemingly perfect sales candidates really do exist.
However, a candidate is not guaranteed to excel on your team just because their resume ticks all the boxes. Perfect on paper does not necessarily mean perfect in real life.
When looking for new sales talent, it’s critical that hiring teams don’t focus all their attention on stereotypically “perfect” sales resumes. Those other resumes hitting your inbox may not look as polished, but one of them could be just the candidate you need.
To find that diamond in the rough, though, you’ll need to dig beyond sales records and years of experience. Instead, look for these four not-so-obvious signs of an exceptional sales candidate:
1. They Put Their Passions to Work
The benefits of a sales career are clear. Candidates with proven track records of sales success earn high compensation and ample accolades for their work — but does the candidate care about what they’re selling, or do they just want the money and the glory?
In addition to looking at a candidate’s previous roles, it helps to assess their volunteer experience, as this can tell you a lot about how their values do — or don’t — align with your company’s. Even more than that, volunteer work can say a lot about a candidate as a person. A history of community involvement and volunteer work shows a candidate is willing to forgo pay and praise for a cause or product they are passionate about.
When considering sales candidates’ resumes, ask yourself: Does this candidate put their relevant sales skills to work for the greater good? Are they willing to go out of their way to help others? This information speaks volumes about how dedicated and passionate a candidate will be in a paid sales role.
2. They Have a Wide Variety of Work Experiences
The negative stigma surrounding job hopping is finally subsiding, and the majority of recruiters and companies no longer see job hoppers as risky hires. Today, in fact, job hopping is more often seen as a sign of ambition that signals a candidate is willing to take control of their career to achieve their goals.
According to Jobvite’s “2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey,” career growth is the No. 1 force driving today’s job seekers to search for new roles. Sixty-one percent of survey participants said career growth opportunities were an important factor when assessing new jobs, compared to 57 percent of survey participants who cited compensation as a key criterion.
In sales specifically, job hopping should be viewed as a sign that a candidate has taken the initiative to gain a wide variety of work experiences, which they can then put to work at your company. Sales candidates who have experience working with various people and products in different industries are more capable of adapting to new situations. Instead of worrying about tenure, look for consistent success in reaching sales goals and meaningful connections from job to job.
For more expert recruiting advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:
3. They’re Willing to Travel
Sales roles can feel very draining and demanding when they require extensive time on the road, and current trends suggest more and more sales roles include significant travel. According to Salesforce’s third-edition “State of Sales” report, 48 percent of sales reps now spend more time meeting with customers and prospects in person than they did in 2015.
If you’re hiring for a role that requires travel, you need to make sure the candidate you choose can handle this unique lifestyle. The biggest clue to that is whether or not the candidate’s resume shows any evidence of extensive travel experience. That doesn’t have to be professional experience: Even if the candidate mostly travels for personal reasons, it can show that they are accustomed to and comfortable with spending time away from home.
4. They Take Time for Personal Growth
Unlike job hopping, employment gaps are still viewed in a fairly negative light by most recruiters and hiring managers. It’s easy to write a candidate off as not being committed to their career or having lost some of their professional sharpness, but in many cases, the opposite is true of sales pros who elect to take a sabbatical.
Many people take breaks from demanding careers to give themselves space for personal growth. They use this time off to develop new skills and explore interests. Sales candidates with career gaps may have newly developed and unique skills set they can use to take your sales team to the next level. Someone who took time to travel, for example, has broadened their worldview, thereby enhancing their ability to make meaningful connections with many different kinds of clients. Pausing a career to take courses is a sign that a person has discipline and the desire to continue learning. Those who take time off to manage their home or care for a loved one have developed exceptional organizational skills.
It’s easy to obsess over perfect resumes, but in doing so, many recruiters miss out on perfect candidates. In fact, the best signs of a strong candidate can sometimes be the least obvious ones. Take a closer look at the resumes in your pipeline — you might be surprised by what you find.