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Your Résumé: The Key to Getting an Interview

We’ve all been through it.

The waiting — endless waiting — for the phone to ring with the hope that, maybe, just maybe, one of the résumés you sent out this week will get through to the right person… and he’ll like what he sees.

There are things you can do to land that all important first interview, Brad Turkin, executive vice president of staffing company Comforce Corporation, says. “As the old saying goes, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. And the résumé is it,” he notes. Here are his tips for creating a phone-ringing résumé:

Know your Strengths.
“The first thing you should do,” Turkin says, “is some serious soul-searching. Know the kind of job — and company — that you want. Know your strengths… and acknowledge your weaknesses.”

Demonstrate your value.
Fill your résumé with facts that jump out at the recruiter. “Avoid empty boasts that can’t be quantified,” Turkin notes. He prefers a chronological résumé with bullet points that highlight previous results and successes. “You can’t just say that you were the best salesman the company had,” he says. “That means nothing to a prospective employer. You’ve got to show how you’ve contributed to a company’s bottom line and how you’ve added value.”

Be truthful.
Falsehoods get discovered, he says, and you should always use your actual dates of employment.

Be choosy.
“Don’t send your résumé blindly to every company out there,” Turkin advises. Do your homework and decide who you want to target. Look into a company’s history and its goals for the future, and how it plans to accomplish them.

Be the solution.
“Try to find out where the company’s ‘pain’ is… and then you’ll know how to position yourself as a solution,” Turkin notes. “Show how you can add value to their company by showing some awareness of their business and their marketplace. If you can position yourself as a possible solution to their problems, you’ve got a very big step up on the competition.”

Upgrade and update.
A résumé is like a living, breathing document, according to Turkin, because it should get to the heart of what you can do for a company. You should be constantly upgrading — and updating — it.

Keep it brief.
Don’t make your résumé into a novel. One to two pages are best. Three pages max (and that’s only if you’ve got pretty much a lifetime of experience).

Check for typos again and again and again!
Remember that some words can be typos even if they pass through your computer’s spell check.

With a solid résumé, you improve your chances of being selected for the next phase, the “preliminary screening” or phone contact. This is a real opportunity to sell yourself on a more personal level and lock in an actual interview.

Since the call can come at anytime, Turkin advises candidates to be ready beforehand by practicing what you might say in a calm and confident voice.

Turkin also emphasizes keeping everything positive. And don’t let a past firing color your attitude. “Good people get terminated, too… and there are ways to address it so that you don’t come off as negative.”

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