min read

Why resumes don’t tell the full story

Let's discuss some of the key issues surrounding a reliance on resumes during the screening process

Resumes are a great starting point – they can help to clearly inform employers of the experience and hard skills a candidate has acquired, but there is only so much that can be written on one or two pages of a document.  

Companies today receive too many applications for them to look at each candidate thoroughly, and with the shift to remote working, this has only increased the applicant pool. Let's discuss some of the key issues surrounding a reliance on resumes during the screening process, followed by explaining the importance of soft skill assessments.

Too much focus on the past

Resumes are great at neatly showcasing a candidate’s past and what they have already learned, but they are not a good indicator of future potential. While it is definitely important to understand the past experience of a candidate to understand, for example, how much training might have to be done to get them up to speed or what perspectives they can immediately bring to the company, that is not the only thing that will determine candidate success in a company. Getting a full 360-view of candidates’ skills, values, goals, and culture fit is just as important to ensure the most long-term success as you want people who will grow with your company as well as add to it, but unfortunately these attributes cannot be seen in a resume alone. Moreover, it’s a lot easier to train hard skills compared to soft skills. In a study done in 2019, it was found that 46% of new hires failed within 18 months, and the leading cause wasn‘t a lack of technical competence, but rather due poor cultural fit and a lack of soft skills such as coachability, emotional intelligence and motivation.


It’s no secret that resumes are often filled with half-truths - even with social media accounts such as LinkedIn that act as online public resumes where employers can see what their employees have written and fact check it, many things can be and often are skewed, exaggerated or understated.  According to a study in 2020, 78% of people admitted to "misrepresenting themselves” on their resumes. This is largely because resumes are meant to be a highlight reel of our successes and strengths and so hiring managers see only what the candidate wants them to know or what they themselves can remember.

Not enough information

While some candidates over polish their resumes and review them a hundred times, many actually do the opposite and don’t spend nearly enough time on it. Too often do we see resumes that are lacking important information, making it clear that the candidate put in minimal effort. For example, a candidate can say they are a software engineer at X company, but they won’t put any details about what they did in that role. Or, they won’t include their school experience, which for new graduates can count towards their professional experience.

Cannot determine culture fit

Resumes fail to tell us one's personality, how people behave, and what motivates them. While interviews help to get to know candidates better beyond their resumes, candidates who should have gotten an interview often don’t reach this stage. Due to the large number of applications companies receive, many candidates are prematurely eliminated as companies utilize screening processes and algorithms that rely on searching for keywords in resumes. There have been many cases where a candidate who appeared to be the perfect fit on paper turned out to later underperform and not fit well with the company culture. On the flip side there are many candidates who, on paper, may have not had all the right skills or gone to the best schools, but were given a closer look and proved to be some of the best hires due to their desire to learn and grow with the company.


Qualifications, such as the school a person attended,  no longer have the same level of importance as they once did decades ago. Due to the growth of the internet and the vast amount of information one can find, many candidates are now learning key skills through teaching themselves.  For example, in a survey done in 2016, more than 66% of software engineers are self-taught. This shift in the way people acquire skills and the overall differences in types of experiences require us to innovate the way we screen for these things. Furthermore, there are many reasons for why someone may have not attended the top school or doesn’t have as many years of work experience as “they should”, and it often isn’t because they are less capable or don’t have the potential.

Moreover, remote working has allowed companies to expand their talent pool. With that comes more diverse applicants and their experiences. While this is great, by focusing on the resumes many companies either fall into the trap of cloning biases and are drawn to candidates whose experiences more closely align to their own, or use algorithms to screen candidates on those dimensions which fail to detect the value of these diverse experiences.  

How nugget.ai can help

Now we aren’t saying resumes are bad or pointless. On the contrary, they are great for easily showcasing experience, knowledge of hard skills, and achievements. However, they simply are not the best indicators of whether the candidate will thrive at your company. Many people can be book smart or excel in their hard skills, but depending on the role, most positions require a certain level of soft skills to go along with that knowledge. That is why it is important to implement skills-based assessments, such as our Nugget Challenges, early on in your hiring process to help reduce biases and gain a better understanding of the abilities of strong candidates. Moreover, there are several other selection measures to consider incorporating into your hiring process, which we discuss here.

Interested in learning more about our tools? Contact us here – we would love to chat with you!

Anastasia Karpacheva 😸

Marketing Associate