Björn Rust (he/him) is a post-industrial designer cum researcher, innovator and educator, developing context-sensitive innovation practices for people, planet and beyond.

Recent writings

  1. Opportunity hoarding
  2. Doing away with bullshit
  3. The course of my life, so far

The course of my life, so far

On page 1082 of the Codex Atlanticus, assembled by the sculptor Pompeo Leoni in the 16th century, there is a letter addressed to Ludovico Sforza from the great Leonardo da Vinci. It begins:

Most illustrious Lord. Having now sufficiently seen and considered the proofs of all those who count themselves masters and inventors of instruments of war, and finding that the invention and working of the said instruments do not differ in any respect from those in common use, I shall endeavour without prejudice to anyone else to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secrets, and then offering at your pleasure to work with effect at convenient times on all those things which are in part briefly recorded below.

The letter, which goes on to list ten of da Vinci’s competencies, is often cited as the first example of a résumé. If true, this ‘technology’ has been with us since the late 15th century.

The résumé, which is French for ‘summary’, is often referred to interchangeably with the Curriculum Vitae (CV), which is Latin for ‘course of life’. Strictly speaking, these two devices serve different purposes, but they are nevertheless identical in one critical characteristic, which is that they are woefully out of date.

These 500-year-old appeals for employment are widely acknowledged to favour white men (like me) while severely punishing women and marginalised ethnicities. Meanwhile, the 7.4 second-long glance a recruiter is awarding each résumé tends to favour applicants from prestigious universities and highly recognisable businesses. Besides the fact that this device invites enormous bias, Laszlo Bock, the former head of human resources at Google, told Quartz that:

It doesn’t capture the whole person. At best, they tell you what someone has done in the past and not what they’re capable of doing in the future.

Résumés are terrible proxies for even the most predictable humans, especially at a time when we are expected to train and retrain for jobs that don’t yet exist. So why do we still render our 19th-century notions of work in a 15th-century format? After all, the BCC in consultation with an executive CV writer and former recruiter claims that even Leonardo da Vinci would find it difficult to find a job based on his résumé today, for »dwelling on the negative... and straying too far from the skills that interest employers«.

So would our contemporary da Vincis fair better today with a LinkedIn profile and an expert recruiter? Maybe employing systems that evaluate what people are »... capable of doing in the future«, might serve us better.

Inspired by: Quartz at Work
Reference: Notebooks


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