Write Your Resume like Your Obituary

What if leaders wrote their resumes like their obituaries? Would future employers know them better? Could they identify their dreams, energies and passions as well as skills, knowledge and abilities?

Would employers know if these candidates?

• Served others rather than being served.
• Developed people rather than controlled people.
• Tried to impact people rather than look after number #1.
• Helped people do things rather than made people do things.
• Emphasized energy, vitality and well-being as well as results.
• Asked for participation rather than buy-in.
• Attracted talent rather than built an empire.
• Were an investor rather than a micromanager.
• Shared authority rather than hoarded authority.

What about those who are not formal leaders. What would you write about yourself?

• The content of your experiences or the context of your life.
• Your great performance or your higher purpose.
• How quickly you did your job of how significantly you did your job.
• How efficient you were or how effective you were.
• How you did things right or that you did the right thing.
• Would you highlight your competence on the job or your connection with colleagues and customers?
• Was it about the accomplishment of the task or the relationships developed while accomplishing the task?

David Brooks in his book “The Road to Character” talks about how we accumulate virtues over our lives and careers. He divides them into two groups. The first group he calls resume virtues-our accomplishments, titles, work histories and work styles. The other group he identifies as eulogy virtues-our kindness, braveness, honesty, faithfulness and the kind of relationships we develop.

Most of us do pretty well at resume virtues but not so well at eulogy virtues. We fall into the 20th Century trap that our work is about what is in our heads-skills and knowledge, potential, substance and school smarts. We forget that we are living in a 21st Century world where what really counts is what is in our hearts-performance, sizzle, street smarts, values, traits and motives.

You may have the brains, technical ability, competence and intelligence to get the job done but nowadays employers want to know if have the touch-the ability to connect with your colleagues and customers.

There will always be a place for perspective employees who know what to do and how to do it. There is a special slot for those of us who not only know what to do and how to do it but why we do what we do.

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