Skip to Content

3 things you won’t learn about a job candidate from a resume

Pooja Sankar, CEO and founder of Piazza
Pooja Sankar, CEO and founder of Piazza
Pooja Sankar, CEO and founder of Piazza Courtesy of Piazza

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 Pooja Sankar, CEO and founder of Piazza.

After deciding to scale our company, we discovered through trial and error which specific qualities result in the best long-term hires for our firm. What we learned: resumes are pretty much useless. Why? Because they typically don’t capture what actually matters for long-term success, specifically: grit, collaboration, and a thirst for learning:

Tenacious grit
Working at a startup can be fun and rewarding, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Failures (ideally small, fixable ones) in startups are expected and inevitable, but how you respond to a failure is of critical importance. When you make a mistake, we expect you to — honestly and without ego — identify the issue, fix it, and try again. Grit is tough to identify on a resume, so the real test comes during the interview, which is an opportunity to showcase the drive, resilience, and perseverance that is necessary for start-up hires

Open to collaboration
Contrary to popular stereotypes, the best developers aren’t antisocial hackers. Instead the best developers tend to be humble and genuinely excited to be part of a strong team. I don’t care how brilliant an engineer is, we’ll turn him or her down in a second if we believe the person is a prima donna. This same principle applies to all of our hires, regardless of the department.

Thirst for learning
This is not easily signaled on a resume, because resumes are hard-to-search static documents often filled with unverified and exaggerated claims. Instead of relying on resumes, we use our Piazza Careers’ database, which is rich with data and insights that relate directly to the practical skills that matter most. We look for self-starters and people who have taken risks — these are the types of people who will successfully thrive in a startup environment.

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

3 simple ways to get your resume noticed by Donna Wiederkehr, CMO of Dentsu Aegis Network.

Why it’s okay to have employment gaps in your resume by Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual.

3 resume tips that help make a great first impression by Debbie Messemer, managing partner at KPMG San Francisco.

In a job interview, here’s what’s more important than intelligence by Angela Dorn, chief legal officer at Single Stop USA.

Here are the 2 qualities that could make or break a job interview by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.

Why your resume matters less than it used to by Kristen Hamilton, CEO and co-founder of Koru.

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.