Categorized | Featured, The Search

Leonardo da Vinci’s Resume Genius

No one is above having to write an appealing and intriguing resume to attract attention from a prospective employer. Not even Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci.

A copy of a letter da Vinci wrote (full text below. original at right: click to enlarge) to the Duke of Milan seeking a position as an armorer was recently made available and contains some universal truths that today’s resume writers can learn from, including:

  1. focus on the needs of the employer. At the time that da Vinci wrote this letter, he was already an accomplished painter, sculptor, physician, musician and inventor. But daVinci didn’t focus his pitch on his artistic facility, but on his ability to create wondrous instruments of war – meeting the immediate needs of the Duke.
  2. don’t tell your whole story, just enough to whet their appetite – notice that da Vinci didn’t include drawings or detailed descriptions of his war-waging creations. Instead he teased the Duke with descriptions of devices that could bridge streams, besiege fortresses, hurl mortars, destroy ships, tunnel under rivers, and protect chariots. At no point does da Vinci explain how he would accomplish any of these tasks, but the descriptions alone are enough to intrigue the Duke and secure an interview – exactly what your resume is intended to do.
  3. describe what you can do, not just what you have done – da Vinci doesn’t just provide a laundry list of the projects that he’s completed, but describes how engaging da Vinci will benefit the Duke. The descriptions of endless means of offense and defense are nearly irresistable and provide the Duke with all the reason necessary to meet with da Vinci.
  4. use language that engages the reader – my favorite line in the letter is his description of the mortars he can build that will “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.” He didn’t write that he could create a series of mortar assemblies capable of firing up to six projectiles per minute. Instead he used descriptive language that enabled the Duke to envision a storm of projectiles blackening the sky and instilling terror in his enemies. And what Duke wouldn’t want the power to unleash that firestorm?

Isn’t it time you revisited your own resume to incorporate some of da Vinci’s timeless tips of genius?

Full text of da Vinci’s letter:

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.

Share this:
Tim McPherson

By Tim McPherson

Tim McPherson, President and COO for Nesco Resource, has over 27 years of experience in all facets of the Staffing Services Industry.

Leave a Reply

NESCO Wins Inavero’s Best of Staffi­ng® Award Five Years Running

Follow us on LinkedIn

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Twitter Topics #talentalley