Why your resume matters less than it used to

June 5, 2015, 3:30 PM UTC

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What are three things you look for in a resume? is written by Kristen Hamilton, CEO and co-founder of Koru.

A friend of mine who works for a digital marketing agency recently told me that she received over 400 resumes for one entry-level (actually, internship) position. So, being naturally curious, I asked her how she sifts through literally hundreds of resumes? Her answer: No mercy. When you’re tasked with looking at 400+ resumes and picking only 25 or so to look at seriously, you have no choice but to be cutthroat. More than one page? You’re out. Typo? Next. Summary statement? It’s the 21st century people!

This same friend of mine also told me that a typical resume has a shelf life of about 15 seconds when it comes in contact with a hiring manager. As much as you would like to think someone is carefully looking at every detail, it couldn’t be further from the truth. You try looking at 400 resumes in one afternoon–and stay sane. So you’ve got 15 seconds–how do you stand out (in the good way)? Ready. Set. Go.

Focus on the right things
One of easiest traps to fall into right after college is stamping the top of your resume with your college, major, and GPA. While you might think that a school name or your GPA is the most impressive thing about you, giving it top billing on your resume basically screams, “I have no experience.” Focus on the things employers want, not just what makes you look like a stud. Ask yourself what problems this position is aiming to solve, and what qualities will show that you can do the job. At Koru, we look to the Koru 7, or the core skills and competencies that employers value most: grit, rigor, polish, impact, curiosity, teamwork, and ownership.

Show, don’t tell
How do you demonstrate these competencies on a resume in 15 seconds or less? After all, you can’t list “grit” as one of your skills. Instead, when you’re listing your experiences, think about what those stories show about you. Craft a narrative. For example, if you ran the marketing for your sorority’s annual fundraiser, what was your strategy and what were the results? Use numbers—lots of them. Don’t just tell me you had a leadership role in your sorority–show me what you accomplished. Maybe you led a three-month marketing campaign for a charity event, resulting in a 30% increase in attendance from the previous year and a 15% increase in funds raised. Show your impact. Show your teamwork. Show your grit.

Don’t discount your experiences
How do you get experience without experience? A timeless conundrum. Here’s a secret: when you’re applying for an entry-level role, you don’t need 100% relevant experience. I’m more likely to hire someone who has less experience in this line of work, but who has convinced me that they’re going to hustle like no-one else. Think about what you’ve done over the last couple years and how the skills you acquired can relate to the position in question. Your volunteer work, the blog you wrote for your unpaid internship, or the set you built for the drama club in college–all of your experiences can translate into marketable skills if you show them.

Bonus tip: Remember the basics
Your resume should never be longer than a page when applying for an entry-level position. Cater your content to the job you’re applying for and skip the fluff. You should be able to live by everything on your resume, so be realistic and honest about what you’ve done. Having a Twitter handle doesn’t make you a social media expert #sorry.

Although the resume is still necessary, it’s not nearly as important anymore. There are many other factors that go into landing a job, so don’t rely on your resume. You’ll spend hours perfecting it, and someone will spend 15 seconds reading it. Who you know is still more important than what’s on your resume–focus the majority of your efforts on networking.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: What are three things you look for in a resume?

3 resume tips for recent grads by Perry Yeatman, CEO of Perry Yeatman Global Partners.

Here are 3 things you should have on your resume by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn

What does your resume say about you? by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.

CEO of Brit + Co: 3 ways to create a stand out resume by Brit Morin, CEO of Brit + Co.

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