Back to all articles

Deconstructing the Resume

Published April 4, 2013


An estimated 91% of hiring managers classify new hires as a “disappointment.” It might be tempting to blame the mere 5 to 7 seconds of attention the average resume receives, but upon taking a closer look, this can’t be the whole story. How can managers, no matter how much time they spend, discover the real top performers when resumes so poorly represent applicants? It’s no wonder the resume is failing us.


In 2006, Forbes named education as one of the most common lies on a resume. For example, some candidates say the degree that took them six years to finish really only took the standard four. Others stretch the truth about their so-so grades, and still others even lie about earning a degree. Promising Harvard graduate? Maybe not.


Success at one company is rarely an indication of success at another. While most employers focus on a candidate’s experience when considering them for a position, the real need is to focus on their transferable skills. Not only can more experience mean more bad habits and poor processes that have to be unlearned, but also what leads to success at one job may not hold true for another.


27% of resumes contain falsified references. Remember all of the glowing, persuasive references you’ve read in your career? Nearly a third of those were probably made up. And what’s worse? Only 11% of hiring managers actually take the time to check applicant references. Yikes!

At the end of the day, a person’s ability to craft a great resume (or have someone else do it for them) isn’t an effective way to predict job performance—whether they’re telling the whole truth or not. Even if they did get the degree they say they did, there’s virtually no link between education and job performance. There’s not even a guarantee that an Ivy League graduate will perform better than a community college graduate. It ends up being practically a coin toss.

Resumes glorify experience and neglect transferable skills—the true predictors of success. That’s why you need to ask if the experiences you’re hiring for will be relevant in three years. The answer is probably not, and that’s why you need employees who can easily learn new skills. It’s not enough to just have the skills needed when an employee arrives. Employees need to be able to pick up new skills and to stay up-to-date as job requirements change.

This is an excerpt from  “Secret Weapons in the War for Talent: A step-by-step guide to making Hiring 3.0 and Big Data win for you”.  Sign up to receive your free copy of this upcoming eBook today!

  • Subscribe to our blog

    As soon as we post a new article, our miracle Internet machine will inform you right away.