Top 10 Things Recruiters Look for In Sales Job Candidates

When you’re looking for a new sales job, wouldn’t you love to be able to read recruiters’ minds?

Well, I can give you the next best thing: data on the top 10 things recruiters look for in sales job candidates.

A recent study by Zide and colleagues asked a group of sales recruiters what attracted them to a sales candidate as well as what features turned them off when looking at the candidate’s LinkedIn profile.

Besides work history and education, the top ten things sales recruiters look for on sales job candidates’ LinkedIn profiles were:

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#1 Spelling and grammar

100% of the sales recruiters interviewed stated that spelling or grammar mistakes were a reason for immediately dismissing a candidate. The justification they gave for their typo hate is, because you can edit your LinkedIn profile any time, you have no excuse for any errors.

Funny enough, when the researchers examined a random sample of LinkedIn profiles, 44% of HR professionals’ profiles had a spelling/grammar mistake compared to 33% of the salespeople’s profiles.

#2 Profile picture

The sales recruiters considered having a picture on your LinkedIn profile a must-have. If your profile doesn’t have a picture, they wonder what “you’re trying to hide.”

In addition, recruiters have a preference for professional looking profile pictures rather than artsy or fun ones. So it sounds like the safe bet is to save the creativity for your summary statement.

84% of salespeople had a profile picture and 62% of them had a professional looking picture.

#3 Email address

Having an email address on your profile was important according to the sales recruiters. But if the email you put on your LinkedIn profile can be considered unprofessional, that’s a red mark against you.

60% of salespeople had an email address on their profile and the vast majority of them – 54% – had a professional one.

#4 Personal interests

The sales recruiters in the study stated they liked when sales candidates listed hobbies or interests because it allowed them to try to find a personal connection with the job applicant. A classic example of the similarity attraction effect.

24% of salespeople’s profiles listed a personal interest while 28% of profiles listed a professional interest.

Of the salespeople who do include a personal interest, 75% list a physical sport or activity. Of the non-physical interests, the most popular ones are travel, family/friends, and networking.

#5 Complete vs. incomplete profiles

The recruiters surveyed preferred to see a “sufficient” amount of information on salespeople’s profiles and they perceived “too little” information as a red flag.

While these are subjective adjectives, creating a summary description, listing your responsibilities and achievements of your current sales job, providing your education details, and having some endorsements for your sales skills are probably a good start.

#6 Number of connections

The recruiters didn’t indicate what they considered a “good” number of connections, but we can safely assume, the more the better, especially when hiring for sales jobs.

91% of the salespeople in the study had more than 500 connections.

#7 Number of recommendations

Recommendations for, and written for others, were perceived as a good sign by the sales recruiters in the study.

Previous research has found that 93% of salespeople’s LinkedIn profiles have recommendations. The most common descriptions used in recommendations include work ethic, team player, professional, knowledge, and relationships.

#8 Status updates

Only 9% (!) of salespeople in the study made status updates on their LinkedIn profile.

If you’re not including social selling in your sales process these days, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to nurture prospects and customers.

#9 Personal information

LinkedIn allows you to indicate your marital status and your birthday under personal details. Some of the sales recruiters surveyed thought this was inappropriate and tone-deaf to include this on a professional profile.

However, 64% of salespeople included personal information on their profile (compared to 47% of HR professionals). My theory? Salespeople’s profiles are customer-facing rather than recruiter-focused and they like to provide more information to inspire a personal connection (that similarity liking effect again!)

#10 Fortune 500 company

Finally, the recruiters in this study preferred sales candidates who were currently working at a Fortune 500 company. Research has found an employee-based brand equity effect: employees are willing to work at a “strong brand” for less pay because of the belief that a high quality brand (i.e., the employer) only partners with other quality brands (i.e., the salesperson).

The takeaways

The research suggests that if you want to attract sales recruiters to your LinkedIn profile, follow a simple rule of thumb: keep it professional.

Include a professional-looking profile picture, fill out your LinkedIn profile with sufficient information, include a professional email address, some personal interests, and have a recommendation or two. And don’t have a single spelling or grammar error!

At Ideal Candidate, we have a couple more suggestions for your sales job search: complete a sales personality assessment and join our sales candidate database and apply for multiple sales job with just one click.

Are you looking for a sales job? Use Ideal Candidate and let the employers come to you. Find your match and make more money. Sign up now!

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min