Here is learning to write resume from a very unusual source. Leonardo da Vinci!
A few days ago, one of my teammates, Om, sent me a mail about Leonardo da Vinci’s resume. It was very intriguing. I started looking for more information and came across this article. It’s worth reading the original article. I am going to summarize it here and look at the lessons in resume writing that it provides.
So this letter was written by him in 1482, at the age of 30, to Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan. After the usual self introduction, Leonardo describes his skills and how those skills will be useful to the duke. Here are some select excerpts.
I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency – to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility.
The entire resume doesn’t talk about his past achievements, but about his abilities and how those can be useful to his prospective employer. Even when it talks about the skills, he lists only the skills that are applicable in the current job and skips all the rest. And he not only talks about them, but is also willing to demonstrate them before getting the job.
Compare this with most of the resumes we write or receive today. They briefly provide the (exaggerated) list of the skills that one has with many pages dedicated to listing every past achievement, large and small. And nary a word about the prospective employer and how one can fulfil the employer’s requirements. Many of these feelings are echoed in the essay “Resumes are ridiculous” in the book Rework, that I had mentioned in one of my past posts, Embrace Constraints.
Writing such a resume, tailored for an employer or a job, is not easy. Not only does one need to be extremely aware of one’s own skill, but one also needs to understand the employer’s business and job requirements and determine how the skills apply to the job. It is much easier to just churn out a standard resume and send it to hundreds of possible employers. And in the employees’ market like the Indian Software Job market, that may still work. So why bother?
Talking about software market, someone inspired by Vinci’s resume, wrote a developer’s resume. It’s a good attempt. You can read it here.
Do you think you would write your resume differently next time you are looking for a job? Please share…