Write the ideal business development resume with this quick guide

Business development is often one of the most exciting roles available in the world of work. Anyone that wants to pursue different challenges and wants to escape the monotony of some business roles will be excited by the prospect of taking a company to a whole new level.

But, of course, when the jobs are so desirable, it takes a spectacular business development resume to land the best positions. Ultimately, it all comes down to selling yourself just as you'll sell the business itself to prospects, suppliers, and customers.

Unsurprisingly, business development resumes often involve plenty of numbers. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to make the business better. It's not all about sales either. Business development executives and managers might decide to focus on growing the brand, implementing new processes, refining the production schedule, or anything else that's considered an improvement. A successful development task involves ensuring that something is better now than when you started. The best evidence you'll want to incorporate in your resume deals primarily in facts and figures.

In practice, business development could mean just about anything. Therefore, it's vital to demonstrate a broad range of skills and experience when applying for more generalist roles. With that said, you might well be a specialist that knows next to nothing about making an HR department more efficient but could double a company's profits in your first year. So whether you're a jack of all trades or the cream of the crop in specific areas, your resume needs to tell employers all about it.

Here's how.

1. Put your summary or objective first

Business development roles often attract a diverse range of applicants with a vast selection of skills and experience. We've already established that these jobs are highly desirable, and applicants understand by now that the role description doesn't have to fit like a glove to make an application worthwhile.

In most cases, that means that recruiters have plenty of information to sift through, and it's never been more vital to get straight to the point. Resumes for all sorts of roles start with an executive summary, but it's worth diving straight into specifics in this case.

As always, if you've been in business development for more than two years, add a summary of your experience. If you haven't yet been involved for that long, go with a resume objective. Either way, take a couple of paragraphs to shout about your experience, achievements, and what you consider the most crucial skills you'll bring to the role.

Also, remember that business development is all about ideas and seeing them through.

So try to incorporate at least one example of coming up with a way to improve a business and then executing it:

Business development resume summary example:

"Following the success of a proof of concept exhibiting the possibilities of free communication between SAP applications and selective social media, I was provided with an opportunity to support and assist the team's architect and product owner with designing a legal framework which was to be implemented in applications built using SAP Social Intelligence framework."

2. Choose between education and experience and prioritize one

It's not hard to imagine a hiring manager facing a virtual pile of business management resumes with trepidation, not least because they never know what they're going to find. That's not to say that there's a greater likelihood of finding poor candidates and the occasional gem than in any other profession. However, one resume can differ wildly from another.

Part of this stems from the fact that there's no crucial qualification to become a business development professional. Of course, degrees, certifications, and memberships can all provide an edge, but it's not like becoming a doctor or an accountant where you need at least one document to get a foot in the door.

It's impossible to predict whether the person that reads your business development resume gives more weight to experience or education. Some prefer a mix, so we're not suggesting you eliminate one or the other entirely. However, you only have limited space on a resume – most should fit on a single sheet wherever possible – so decide what makes you appear most appealing.

For example, if your education ended when you left high school, but you've since increased profits at a company by 100%, the decision is clear. Conversely, if you're after an entry-level position and you've just completed a master's degree in a business-related subject, give that the bullet points and space it deserves.

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3. Be generous with your skills

If you've got your eyes on a career in business development, or you're already in the middle of one, then the chances are you've got a diverse skillset. You're the total package in terms of identifying problems, planning a resolution, and seeing it through to completion. You'll also often work broadly across multiple departments with your employer, so your skills list should reflect your flexibility and communication skills.

However, it's critical not to go overboard. You have plenty of skills, but you're still dealing with that all-important limited space. Use the job description as a guide, then hone in on the most relevant skills and the ones that ensure you come across as adaptable. You'll include a mix of both hard and soft skills to check all those boxes for most roles.

Try to demonstrate as much as possible, using as few words as you can:

Hard skills

  • Financial planning
  • Logistics
  • Presentation skills
  • Budgeting
  • Reporting

Soft skills

  • Scheduling
  • Teamwork
  • An analytical approach
  • Leadership
  • Time management

In conclusion...

Remember, the role in the job description might be what you're being brought into the company to do today. However, many recruiters for business development roles have an eye on the future, and they want a rounded individual who might help the business in ways they haven't even thought of yet!