Why I’m not interested in resumes

Even though everyone knows (and agrees) that resumes don’t mean anything, we still send them when we apply for a job and ask for it if we hire. In this post I’d like to talk about whyI’m not interested in resumes. This post will be a combination of some of my thoughts on how purpose-driven organisations should hire and excerpts from a chapter of the book ReWork (which I reviewed some time ago on this blog) called Resumes are ridiculous.

We all know resumes are a joke.  They’re exaggerations.  They’re filled with “action verbs” that don’t mean anything.  They list job titles and responsibilities that are vaguely accurate at best.  And there’s no way to verify most of what’s on there.  The whole thing is a farce.

The main characteristic of a purpose-driven organisation is that it’s purpose-driven. Companies don’t have dreams and visions, people have. And if you bring people with similar ideas and dreams together, to work on making those dreams reality, you get a purpose-driven organisation.

It’s not hard to recognize when people are passionate about their job. They are the kind of people that keep talking on what the company is doing and how they’re contributing to that. If they stand alone in a company however, the passion could be extinguished pretty fast. The best way of killing a positive vibe in your organisation is by hiring people because of their skills instead of their passion.

If you hire based on this garbage (resumes), you’re missing the point of what hiring is about.  You want a specific candidate who cares specifically about your company, your products, your customers, and your job.

When you’re hiring someone, your main concern should not be what the candidates already did (or say they did), you concern should be to see what they would do if given the opportunity to work for you. Don’t get blinded by skills, skills are teachable. You can’t teach passion. If someone is really motivated and anxious to learn, they’ll pick up the skills to do so in no time. You don’t want to know what they did, you want to know what they’ll do.

So how do you find a good candidate if not by looking at resumes? Since I’m in agreement with the guys from ReWork here, I’ll just quote the last paragraph of the chapter Resumes are ridiculous.

So how do you find these candidates?  First step:  Check the cover letter.  In a cover letter, you get actual communication instead of a list of skills, verbs, and years of irrelevance.  There’s no way an applicant can churn out hundreds of personalized letters.  That’s why the cover letter is a much better test than a resume.  You hear someone’s actual voice and are able to recognize if it’s in tune with you and your company.

Trust your gut reaction.  If the first paragraph sucks, the second has to work that much harder.  If there’s no hook in the first three, it’s unlikely there’s a match there.  On the other hand, if your gut is telling you there’s a chance at a real match, them move on to the interview stage.


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.


  1. Ah, I’m hoping that doesn’t explain the lack of response to a recent application I sent. I had put a great deal of effort into my CV and Selection Criteria responses and, when it came to the cover letter, my word cupboard was bare. With the deadline looming, I sent it off with a “please find attached”. I knew it wasn’t really good enough, but that was all that I could muster. Oh well…lesson learned, I guess.

    • Oh, I do agree with you by the way. At my current workplace, some of the best employees we have are those that have been hired based on their passion and potential rather than their resume.

    • Just like you, I also put quite some effort in my CV, but the main focus is always my cover letter. Once I’m invited for an interview, I’ve got time enough to explain what I’ve done so far.

  2. Pingback: Moving from a resume to a portfolio | Keep the game, change the rules

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