The 15 Second Resume Challenge!

Are you currently applying for jobs and getting little, if any, response?! You have come to the right place! Take the 15 Second Resume Challenge! Most Hiring Managers & HR Professionals will only scan resumes for 15 seconds each. How does your resume compare to the resume that secures interviews? Let’s find out!

You will need:

A kitchen timer or a stop watch, a paper copy of your resume, and a highlighter pen.


You are going to scan your resume and highlight as many of these top resume words as possible:

1. (These aren’t really words, but very important for any resume) ‘$ , %,’ and/or ‘#’

2. ‘Effectively’

3. Industry-specific words like ‘Lean’, ‘Six Sigma’, and ‘FDA’.

4. ‘Increased’

5. ‘Decreased’

6. ‘Improved Processes’ or ‘Streamlined’

7. ‘Accomplished’

8. ‘Assisted’

9. ‘Managed’

10. ‘Responsible’

11. ‘Utilized’

Read through the words again, so you can focus more on the resume and less on the list. Now set your timer to 15 seconds and highlight away!

All done? What did you learn? Did you only find one or two words? Or, did you find at least each word one time or more? If so, good for you! If you only found a couple, take a look at the way each sentence is written. There is a good chance that you could find half-a-dozen more of these words by simply changing the way the sentence is structured.


Original: “Moved equipment on the shop floor to speed up production”

Rework: “Streamlined equipment layout which increased production by 23%”

Although this is called the 15 Second Resume Challenge, I am going to need a little more time from you than just 15 seconds! Let’s look at some other keep points on a professional looking resume.

• Do you have a short & sweet objective clearly listed near the top of the page? I am somewhat ‘on the fence’ about whether people should have Objectives listed on their resume, but if you choose to have one, make it broad enough so you don’t get tossed out of the running.


Original: I am seeking a position in Marketing & Sales Management in a prestigious company where I can quickly advance and move up the ladder.

Rework: Marketing & Sales Management

• Got White Space? Is your resume so full of words that there is no white space to spare? Although I don’t know what the exact formula is, make sure that you allow spaces in your resume. Have breaks between headings & jobs; after you have described one job, leave a line blank and then start the next job.

• Got Bullets & Numbers? I always hate reviewing resumes that read more like a story than they do a resume. If your resume reads like a book, try breaking up key points by using bullets or numbers. Look back over these last 3 tips…see how easy to read and how ‘broken up’ each separate point is?

• Contact Info! Be sure to put everything on your resume! Home phone, cell phone, snail mail address, and email address. Tip: If your email address is, perhaps you should think about setting up another account for your job search!

• Do you have a Summary section? I would be willing to bet that a lot of Hiring Managers and HR folks ONLY read the Summary section when they are reviewing resume. This is a section at the top of the resume, below the ‘Objective’, that highlights your skills and accomplishments. Typically these are between 5-10 bullet points. Don’t go too crazy with this section though, you want to save some things for the ‘Professional Experience’ section!

• If you recently graduated from college, your ‘Education’ sections needs to be near the top of the resume. However, if you have been working in your field for more than 2 years, your ‘Education’ section needs to be listed AFTER your ‘Experience’ Section.

If you did need to do a little rework on your resume, no worries, there is no shame in that game! Your next step, retake the 15 Second Resume Challenge and see how you do. Also, give your resume to a friend and have him or her take the challenge to see how many words they could find. It never hurts to have a second set of eyes on a resume before you post it online or email it to a hiring manager!

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