RIP' The Resume? Executives Surveyed By Korn Ferry Weigh In On Landing A Job


- Networking Most Important, Resumes Least Important Part of Job Search Process -  Majority Spend Less Than Five Minutes Reading Resumes - Vast Majority See 'Job Hopping' as a Detriment - 

Editor’s Note: Survey Results at Bottom of Release

Los Angeles, June 6, 2017 – A new executive survey conducted by the Korn Ferry division of Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY) indicates that resumes may not be the power tool they once were for landing a job.

More than one-third (35 percent) of those surveyed said that resumes are less important to the job search process than they were 5 years ago.

In addition, 77 percent said networking was the most important part of the job search process, followed by interviewing (16 percent) and social/online presence (4 percent). Dead last? Resumes at 3 percent.

“Candidates who rise above the rest in this very competitive job environment, are those who understand that landing a job takes a balanced approach,” said Peter Keseric, Managing Consultant - Financial Services and Real Estate, Korn Ferry. “Resumes are not going away– they’re still an important part of the overall job search process. However, nothing gets a candidate ahead like networking. And networking today is a contact sport.”

Although all (100 percent) respondents reported that they read candidates’ resumes during the hiring process, 51 percent of executives surveyed said they spend less than five minutes reading a candidate’s resume and 13 percent spend less than two minutes.

While a resume’s concision is critical, the survey findings also indicate that candidates should take great care in preparing and proofing their resumes. Ten percent of those surveyed said they would disregard a candidate if they found a typo or bad grammar in the candidate’s resume, even if the candidate had appropriate qualifications, and 46 percent said they would keep the candidate in the pool, but with reservations.

In terms of work history, direct experience is king. The most important information on a resume, according to the survey, is that the candidate has experience that is relevant to the position (83 percent). Only 15 percent cited the quality of the candidate’s previous employers, with 2 percent citing education (university they attended, GPA or types/levels of degrees). None of the respondents said the candidate’s job title mattered most.

Despite the surge of a gig economy, longevity still matters. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said short tenure or ‘job hopping’ matters to some or a great extent.

As for the cover letter, nearly half of respondents (49 percent) said it is less important than it was 5 years ago.

“Several elements go into the making of a successful job search,” said Keseric. “Candidates who know how to communicate and create compelling resumes will have an advantage. But at the end of the day, direct experience and fit helps puts them over the top.”

About the survey

Korn Ferry fielded the survey in April 2017 and it garnered 1,815 responses. Percentages are rounded to the nearest decimal. Totals may not equal 100 percent.

Survey Results

What is the most important part of the job search process?

Networking  77 percent
Interviewing  16 percent 
Social/online presence  4 percent
Resumes  3 percent


Compared to 5 years ago, how important are resumes to the job search process?

Significantly less important   7 percent
Somewhat less important    28 percent
The same   34 percent
Somewhat more important    9 percent
Significantly more important   21 percent


How long do you spend with a resume prior to interviewing a candidate?

Less than 2 minutes  13 percent
Less than 5 minutes   38 percent
Less than 15 minutes  30 percent
More than 15 minutes   20 percent
I don’t look at resumes prior to interviews  0 percent


How far in advance of interviewing a candidate do you review their resume?

As they are walking into my office / dialling in for the interview  2 percent
During the interview     1 percent
A half-hour before the interview     18 percent
The day of the interview      15 percent
I review all resumes in advance and then decide who I want to interview   64 percent


How much of a candidate’s resume do you read?

All of it   58 percent
Just the executive summary    11 percent
I scan for key words I’m looking for  31 percent


What’s the most important element you look for on a resume?

The quality of the companies the person has worked for  15 percent
Their titles  0 percent
Specific experience in the areas I need to hire   83 percent
Education (school and types/levels of degrees)   2 percent


How much does short job tenure or “job hopping” matter when you are assessing whether a candidate is fit for a role?

It matters to a great extent  25 percent
It matters to some extent    62 percent
It doesn’t matter     13 percent


What would you do if you saw a typo or bad grammar on a resume?

Disregard the candidate even if his or her qualifications met the role   10 percent
Keep the candidate in the pool, with reservations  46 percent
Overlook the mistake if the person is qualified    44 percent


How many years of past experience should a candidate put on his/her resume? (assuming they have a long work history)

5 years or less  1 percent
10 years or less  16 percent
15 years or less  24 percent
20 years or less  18 percent
Depends on the quality of the work history   41 percent


How do you view resumes prior to interviewing candidates?

On my laptop  44 percent
A printed copy   54 percent
On my mobile phone   2 percent
I don’t review resumes prior to interviews   0 percent


Compared to 5 years ago, how important is attaching a cover letter to a resume?

Significantly less important  26 percent
Somewhat less important    23 percent
The same   21 percent
Somewhat more important   8 percent
Significantly more important  21 percent


How much more likely are you to review a “creative” resume (e.g. resume in a box, resume poster) vs. a traditional resume?

Much more likely  15 percent
Somewhat more likely  29 percent
Wouldn’t make a difference  39 percent
Somewhat less likely  13 percent
Much less likely   4 percent


About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm. We help leaders, organizations and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through our Executive Search, Hay Group and Korn Ferry divisions. Visit for more information.

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