The hardest part about the resume process¬†for many candidates is passing the first screening. Whether it’s a computerized applicant tracking system (think keyword scanner) or a harried hiring manager, those first 30 seconds (or less, depending upon the individual reviewer) will go a long way toward deciding the success of your application with that employer.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can easily determine how well your resume passes this initial screening (and by extension, fix any problems that pop up). You’ll need a friend, colleague or some random stranger to help you – the less informed about your background the better.

Find a timing device РI prefer my iPhone with an obnoxious alarm. Set the timer for 30 seconds. Tell your unwitting victim they have 30 seconds to read the resume. Pass it to them, give them 30 seconds and then take it back. Ask the following questions:

1. What are my top skills?

2. Where am I working now?

3. Where did I go to school, and what did I study?

4. Bonus Question: Why should you hire me?

If your resume is well laid out, you should receive accurate answers to the first three questions. If you get a cogent answer to the fourth question, then congratulations – your resume is going to pass the first screening. On the other hand, if your helper can’t answer one or more of the first three questions, then you have work to do. Take a look at our 50 Resume Writing Tips for a good place to get started. Or better yet, send us your resume for a free resume review.