Thursday, July 16, 2015

Who made the first résumé?

Settling into a wholly new area, as I have, presents a host of challenges, such as figuring out what a "hoagie" is (a northeastern term for a sub sandwich), remembering that it's not always legal to turn right on a red light, and being careful not to run over Amish buggies. (I just looked up why you never see Amish people ride on horseback. It's apparently considered immodest; I actually see the rationale behind that.) Fortunately, I can at last dispense with the southern pretense of asking of how your day is, because as you and I both know, no one actually cares.

I recently crossed off another item on the to-do list: I finally gave in to corporate America and created a profile on LinkedIn. I'll be honest, even to those prospective employers out there who are, even now, scanning my blog for reasons not to hire me, that I find the entire site's philosophy irksome, not least because of all the articles I had to read in order to "maximize my hireability". Add a picture to increase your chances of being clicked on by 14 times. Make sure you're smiling, but don't look too happy. A slight scrinching of the eyes is best. See that your chosen photo features you alone; this isn't Facebook, and we wouldn't want to think you have anything to live for beyond the company. 

Perhaps I'm too skeptical of my fellow man to be a hiring manager, because I don't understand why they wouldn't see right past all the corporate jargon, e.g. résumé fluff:
-Whenever I look at someone's page, if their job title has the word "engineer" but isn't preceded by "electrical", "mechanical", or "petroleum", my mind instantly replaces it with "lackey". 

-I mentally cross out all instances of the word "professional" (for instance, LinkedIn's default headline for me was "education management professional"), no matter the context. No one would sign up for a LinkedIn account in the first place if they didn't imagine themselves to be a "professional" of some sort or another. Would you rather describe yourself as amateur?

-If you "think outside the box", you're actually well within the box and just don't know it.

-Everyone's likelihood of getting a job is directly proportional to how many obfuscating words with Greek or Latin roots they can use to make their past jobs positions and deeds accomplishments look more important than they really were. All these "innovative" thinkers with their "solutions" for "managing multiple projects" makes me want to take up Anglo-Saxon to cast these foreign loan words out of our tongue and speak in full barbarian from here on out. But in the meantime, at least it looks like there is some use for all the fancy book-learnin' in that classical liberal arts degree, after all.
Anyway, feel free to email me if you want to add me to LinkedIn. Or, if you find me on the site directly, be sure to say it's because you read my blog.

And now, to where I meant to start: as I off-handedly mention somewhere on my LinkedIn profile, "Did you know, for instance, that the first person to use something akin to a résumé as we know it was Leonardo da Vinci?" It was more a cross between a résumé and a cover letter, but it's true nonetheless. When our favorite ninja turtle was but 30 years of age, he wrote to Ludovico Sforza, Regent (and later, Duke) of Milan in the hope of getting a job. What's interesting is that, although he had already accomplished more in many disciplines in 1482 than most of us get around to in our whole lifetimes, Leonardo's letter only references his artistic acumen in passing, at the end:

"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."

The rest of the letter focuses on what Leonardo could do for the Sforzas as a military engineer and inventor of weapons of moderate destruction. Here's the full piece in translation:

    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 endeavor, without prejudice to any one 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.

    1. 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.

    2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.

    3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.

    4. 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.

    5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.

    6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.

    7. 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.

    8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.

    9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.

    10. 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.

    11. 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 honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.

    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, etc.

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