One of the most crucial tools in any job seeker’s arsenal, a resume (or résumé, if you want to show off), continues to hold its spot as the most commonly read document by recruiters worldwide. Long resumes, short resumes, incomplete resumes, resumes with spelling errors - the person whose job it is to skim through hundreds of these mini professional biographies on a daily basis has to make a decision on your eligibility for the role in as little as 6 seconds in order to keep the workflow going, and you’re competing with others similarly hungry for a chance at the role.
Would your resume make the cut?
If the answer’s no, then don’t worry, you’re going to turn that into a “not yet”; - because remember that no matter how much you may struggle to compress a lifetime's worth of experiences and skills onto a single piece of paper, even someone with the polymathic abilities of Leonardo Da Vinci had to sell himself convincingly enough to land a much-needed job, and unsurprisingly, this being Da Vinci, he created the world’s first resume in the process.
With job titles ranging from inventor, engineer, painter, botanist, geologist, cartographer, astronomer, and alchemist, he managed to create a convincing enough piece of targeted marketing which could still hold up in any job interview today. We know it impressed the Regent (and later Duke) of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, who hired Da Vinci and thus enabled the acclaimed genius to play a major role in shaping the Italian Renaissance under his patronage, during which he produced some of his greatest works.
Da Vinci was careful to highlight specific skills he knew would be of special interest to the future-Duke, thus directly targeting the needs of his potentially future employer and the city.
Even his introduction was bold and audacious enough to entice the reader to want to keep on reading;
“ Most Illustrious Lord,
Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavour, without prejudice to anyone else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.”
Then, as promised, he listed ways in which he could be “of service” to Milan, some of which are listed below;
1. I have plans for bridges, very light and strong
2. When a place is besieged I know how to cut off water from the trenches, and how to construct an infinite number of scaling ladders and other instruments
3. If because of the height of the embankment, and the strength of the place of its site, it should be impossible to reduce it by bombardment, I know methods of destroying any citadel or fortress, even if it is built on rock.
4. I have plans for making cannons, very convenient and easy for transport….”
And not only that, he went a step further and showed not only his potential usefulness during times of peace as well, he also paid tribute to the memory of the Regent’s late father, as well as to the ruling family itself.
“ 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.
I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.
Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honour of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.”
His focus on what he can do for the City, rather than a list of all his accomplishments and accolades to date ensured that he set himself apart as the most suitable candidate for the position as the “military engineer” for the city, as well as highlighting the artistic abilities that he could employ during more peaceful periods.
It’s amazing to think that this document, which was crafted 533 years ago can still teach us a thing or two about the art of self-promotion and specific skill targeting to suit the specific need of the "employer", and it took a genius to create it.
At Maple Road, our consultants' goal is to help you re-orient yourself with your core strengths and talents, and gain confidence in challenging any interview with a potential employer and set yourself apart from the crowd. Never settle for mediocre - even the genius had to sell himself, so make your portfolio shine.