No disrespect intended, but when it comes to sales hiring, the best use of an applicant’s résumé may be for taking notes during the interview. While a résumé may sometimes be a true representation of how well a candidate will fit into your company, more often it’s just a lot of words meant to dazzle you because someone wants a job. Here’s the sad fact: just because someone wants a job doesn’t mean they want to work.
I know, it seems like a sacrilege to take that document that the candidate put so much work into, and treat it like scratch paper, but that’s just the point. This candidate did put a lot of work into the résumé—or he paid someone else to put in a lot of work—all to present himself (or herself) in the best possible light. But, as anyone who understands the ins and outs of sales hiring knows, it takes more than good light to warrant a place among the ranks of good salesmen.
It’s a little like those gorgeous models in magazines. Sure, they seem absolutely perfect on those glossy pages, but if you happen to see them on the street without the makeup, the hair styling, the lighting, and the air-brushing, you probably won’t even recognize them. In other words, in real life, they’re a disappointment.
If you’re responsible for the sales hiring in your company, think of the résumé as the air-brushed version of a candidate’s qualifications. This person thinks he has a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for, so he may embellish his responsibilities a little, exaggerate about his skill set a little, and gloss over some details that might not make him look good to you. In many cases, some of the information is downright deception; we’ve all heard about those high-profile cases where “respectable” people have been exposed for lying on their résumés.
Considering the fact that most information on résumés can be easily verified (but who has the time to chase down every detail?), it’s surprising that so many people still bend the truth about things like their academic degrees, companies they have worked for, and sometimes even their own family background. One survey of hiring managers revealed that as many as 60% of the résumés they receive have at least one lie, and some of them are really whoppers. That means that only 40% were honest portrayals of the applicants—unless, of course they were more talented with their lying than the ones who got caught.
On the other hand, a candidate who’s a potential top performer may not have the creative skills to produce an impressive résumé. All the key attributes that good salesmen possess—the values, the motivation, the focus on top performance—are qualities that can’t really be put down on paper. If, in your sales hiring, you rule out an applicant based solely on his lackluster résumé, you could be missing out on the opportunity to enrich the sales culture of your company, and you may end up instead with another disappointment. But he had a great résumé!