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Your Transferable Skills in Sales Might Qualify You for These Other Roles

Don Sjoerdsma by Don Sjoerdsma, Career Advice Expert

When consumers and companies stop spending, sales professionals start hurting. Aside from a  few select sectors of the economy, like grocery stores and Amazon, spending is way down throughout the United States thanks to the coronavirus. Case in point: Retail sales fell a record 8.7 percent in March, and JPMorgan Chase economists predict the U.S. economy will shrink by 40 percent in the April–June quarter.

This has had a serious trickle-down effect for sales professionals. Nearly 700,000 workers in retail, the biggest segment of sales employees, have lost their jobs, and that’s just one segment of the sales workers who have been affected. Workers in roles like inside sales, outside sales, insurance, telemarketing and other parts of the sector are also expected to be impacted.

Despite these uncertain times, one thing is for sure: It isn’t wise to delay launching a job search. If you were recently laid off or furloughed in the sales industry, you should start looking for your next role right away. When the pandemic wanes and the fear subsides, millions of others will begin looking for work, making the hunt that much more competitive.

Your sales skills make you well-prepared to land a new job. However, it likely won’t be in the same industry you were employed in before COVID-19. In this reshaped economy, it’s critical that you learn to write a resume that highlights the skills you possess that employers are looking for now. Here, we show you how.

Transferable skills and training to emphasize on your resume

Everyone in the sales industry, from entry-level retail workers to shift supervisors to executives, has a host of skills and traits most employers, regardless of industry, actively seek out in applicants. These skills are known as transferable skills.

Transferable skills for sales professionals can be divided into the following three categories:

  • Hard skills are measurable, such as math comprehension or a foreign language.
  • Soft skills are difficult-to-quantify interpersonal strengths, such as empathy and organization.
  • Technical skills are based on knowledge of specific tools and computer programs.

As you learn how to write a resume, let’s consider a few common sales skills in each category:

Hard skills and technical skills: Hard skills include, data entry, data analysis, foreign language, social media management, math and knowledge of proper cash-handling procedures. Technical skills include proficiency with customer relationship management software (CRM), key performance indicator software (KPI), geolocation software, Salesforce, Hubspot, Google AdWords and Microsoft Office Suite

Soft skills: Emotional intelligence, empathy, communication, flexibility, research, time management, relationship management, customer service

Certifications and training: Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP), Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP), SPIN Selling, Challenger Development Program, Certified Sales Leadership Professional (CSLP), Certified Sales Executive (CSE)

Education: Many sales jobs do not require a four-year college degree. However, if you have a bachelor’s degree in a subject related to sales, which is fairly common in sectors like healthcare, make sure to list it on your resume, alongside any relevant coursework. Sales certifications belong in a different section.

These industries are hiring people with your skills

One of the great benefits of a career in sales is that sales positions exist in every industry. Below, we provide examples of industries that are still hiring sales representatives, as well as alternatives to sales if you would like to try something new.

If you were a sales manager, you might consider the following roles:

  • Senior staffing manager (for example, at an ecommerce company, like Amazon)
  • Supply chain supervisor (for example, at a shipping & logistics company like Averitt Express)
  • Sales manager (for example, at a beverage company, like Coke)

If you were an inside sales representative, you might consider the following roles:

  • Outside sales representative (for example, at a software company like Microsoft)
  • Computer support analyst (for example, at a pharmaceuticals company like Pfizer)
  • Customer service representative (for example, at an insurance company like Farmers Insurance)
  • Sales manager (for example, at a beverage company like Pepsi)

If you were an outside sales representative, you might consider the following roles:

  • Outside sales representative (for example, at an insurance company like Geico)
  • Computer support analyst (for example, at a hospital)
  • Customer service representative (for example, at a transportation company like Dollar Rentals)
  • Sales manager (for example, at an auto company like AutoZone)

If you were a retail associate, you might consider the following roles:

  • Sales associate (for example, at a grocery store like Trader Joe’s)
  • Caregiver (for example, at a nursing home)
  • Receptionist (for example, at a hospital)
  • Bank teller (for example, at a financial institution like Wells Fargo)
  • Greeter (for example, at an essential retail store like Walmart)
  • Stocker (for example, at a grocery store like Kroger)
  • Warehouse associate (for example, at an ecommerce company like Amazon)
  • Delivery driver (for example, for a delivery app like DoorDash)

How to apply for these roles and what you’ll need

If you are applying in-person, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

Many jobs you are pursuing, especially high-level ones, will require an online application. To apply online, you will need a current email address and phone number, a resume and identification, such as a driver’s license or passport.

How to find these jobs in your community

How to create a resume that will capture an employer’s attention

Your resume is your calling card. It encapsulates your career. The best way to highlight your career highs, skills, work experience, education and certifications is to read the job description closely. You will find out exactly what the employer is looking for, and tailor your resume to meet their needs.

Cover letters have a similar purpose. On a cover letter, however, you can explain the things you can’t explain on your resume, such as the reason behind a career transition. Make your cover letter concise, compelling and customized and you’re bound to catch the hiring manager’s eye.

Now, to get you started, here’s a sales resume example that would likely appeal to an employer. Study the structure and language before you start writing your own.

Text resume example: A retail associate applying for a warehouse associate role

Name: Alex Sansome
Address: Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (555) 555-5555
E-Mail: example@example.com

Professional Summary

Retail associate knowledgeable in product placement and merchandising, seeking a role as a warehouse associate. Experienced in inventory management and shipment processing. Diligent and meticulous professional commended for quickly and accurately learning new procedures.


  • Verbal and written communication
  • Cash register operation
  • Organization
  • Loading and unloading
  • Problem resolution
  • Stocking
  • Lifting up to 60 lbs
  • Teamwork

Work History

Retail Associate
Boston, MA
February 2019 to March 2020

  • Stocked merchandise each day, clearly labeling items, arranging according to size or color and preparing attractive displays.
  • Balanced and organized cash register by handling cash, counting change and storing coupons.
  • Circulated assigned areas of sales floor and assisted over 40 daily customers with finding items.

Retail Associate
Champs Store
Boston, MA
July 2018 to January 2019

  • Organized store merchandise racks and displays to promote and maintain visually appealing environments.
  • Performed stocking and informed management of low inventory quickly.
  • Completed sales in excess of $2,000 with near-zero error rate using POS system.

Crust Pizzeria
Boston, MA
August 2017 to June 2018

  • Completed manual counts of funds for transactions valued at over $1,500 daily.
  • Used cash registers and POS systems to request and record customer orders and compute bills.
  • Restocked and arranged condiments, napkins, and other supplies.

Education & Training

High School Diploma
Wayland High School, June 2018
Boston, MA

My Perfect Resume Builder example: A retail associate applying for a warehouse associate role

resume for a retail associate applying for a warehouse associate

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