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Quiz: How Stellar Is Your Résumé?

Marty Nemko

How likely will your résumé land you an interview?

To assess that, imagine you're your target employer. How would you rate your résumé on each of these:

1. The summary. Is your summary well matched to the job you're applying for? If few people are likely to be as well matched, so much the better.

Your score from 0 to 20:____

2. Your career's progression. You've had a consistent ascendancy of responsibility in which your target job is the next logical step.

Your score from 0 to 20:____

3. Your accomplishments. Your accomplishments demonstrate that you have the skills, abilities, knowledge and drive to do the target job. Sometimes, describing an accomplishment as a PAR (problem, action, result) story can help: a sentence describing the problem you faced, one on the ways you approached the problem and the positive result of your efforts.

Your score from 0 to 20:____

4. Your skills. Do your presented skills match up well with the job posting? And if your skills are rare - for example, programming in assembly language - so much the better.

Your score from 0 to 20:____

5. Your education. Is your education ideal for this job? Sometimes, you can have too much education for the job. For example, if you're applying for a position normally held by people with bachelors degrees from second-tier colleges and you have a Ph.D. from Harvard University, the employer may fear that you'll soon quit for a higher-level position.

Your score from 0 to 10:____

6. Your interests. Are your volunteer work or personal interests aligned with the job or co-workers? For example, if you're applying for a job at an environmental nonprofit, having volunteered for Greenpeace and being an ardent backpacker should impress that employer.

Your score from 0 to 5:____

7. Language. Your résumé is devoid of artificial-sounding résumé-speak such as "Self-starting team-playing, people person. Seeks opportunity with dynamic, progressive company." Instead, the language is clear, professional, but human.

Your score from 0 to 15:____

8. Conciseness. The best résumé have no padding. It could be one page or four pages, but everything makes the target employer think, "Yes, I want to interview that person." You make liberal use of one-line bullets.

Your score from 0 to 15:____

9. Ethics. Is your résumé free of deception and even the perception that it might be deceptive - for example, not listing months of employment? Even if you're not motivated by an intrinsic need to be ethical, employers are ever more diligent in verifying résumé information.

Your score from 0 to 20:____

10. Format. In the printed version, there's plenty of white space. The electronic version has been formatted for online viewing.

Your score from 0 to 15:____

Utterly Unvalidated Scoring Key

140-160: If you're applying for on-target jobs, your résumé should help you land an interview

120-140: Your résumé may help

90-120: Neutral

70-90: Your résumé may hurt

Below 70: Your résumé will hurt

The San Francisco Bay Guardiancalled Dr. Nemko "The Bay Area's Best Career Coach." His latest books are How to Do Life: What They Didn't Teach You in School and What's the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. He writes weekly for AOL.com as well as for USNews.com. More than 1,000 of his published writings are free on www.martynemko.com.

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