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Checking Your Résumé

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The 20-Second Test

As mentioned on the previous page, employers may only spend a few seconds looking at your résumé before deciding whether or not to interview you. You should anticipate this and use the 20-second test to see if your résumé passes.

The 20-second test calls for you to have someone else read your résumé for twenty seconds. Then ask her how much she learned about you. If your reader noticed within twenty seconds what you want employers to learn about you, then most likely you will have designed an effective résumé.

You may also want to look at your résumé from a distance of a 12 inches or so. Turn it upside down or sideways. What do you notice? Are there large blocks of hard-to-read text? Does the résumé seem balanced, or is it “weighted” to one side or another? Is there too much white space in one area? Revise as necessary.

Lastly, always have a few different people read through your résumé in detail. Community centers, state, county, and city employment agencies can help you with this. Remember your résumé needs to be free of errors and designed with a professional appearance. Your résumé speaks for you when you cannot. You want your résumé to say good things to your potential employer so you can get the job you need.

Click here to download the PDF file containing sample résumés and employment letters.

Job Search Tools: Resumes, Applications, and Cover Letters by Ronald C. Mendlin and Marc Polonsky with J. Michael Farr. The Putting the Bars Behind You Series. Indianapolis: JIST, 2000.

Some of this information is also adapted from