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Augment Yourself, Not Your Résumé

Posted By Jim On 03/30/2009 @ 9:13 am In Career | 23 Comments

When I was a kid, my parents taught me that my job was to do well in school so that I could get into a good college. In college, my job was to do well, earn my diploma, and then get a good job. Once I started working, I was told that leaders take leadership training classes and took rotational assignments in areas others didn’t. I, of course, wanted to be a leader (that’s what’s next right?). I started signing up for all these classes that had great names and interesting content but really lacked any application in my day to day activities.

Somewhere along the line, I began noticing that everyone, myself included, were working towards getting bullet points on the résumé. They weren’t focused on the knowledge that came with getting those bullets. They were focusing on “the piece of paper.” It was a means to an end. A check box on a magical recipe for making it to the next rung on the corporate ladder.

There were two reasons I pursued an MBA from Johns Hopkins: 1) my employer paid for it, 2) it was a bullet on my resume. I played right into it. I pursued an MBA because it was free, I had the time, and because it would check off a box and add another bullet to the resume on my quest for corporate greatness. Don’t get me wrong, I did learn something from all the classes I took but the motivation was the bullet point, not the knowledge. Why did I want that bullet? Because everyone said that managers had MBA’s. And management was the next step.

That’s a mistake. (Especially now.)

In our trying economic times, it’s important that you continue to invest in yourself in meaningful ways, not just ways that pad your résumé. Employers cannot risk hiring someone who looks good on paper but performs poorly in real life. They can only hire people who will truly excel and add to the bottom line. While there are exceptions to the rule, I think you cannot go wrong following this mantra in your life – augment yourself, not your résumé.

Take this from Warren Buffet’s 2007 Letter to Shareholders: “Charlie and I are not big fans of resumes. Instead, we focus on brains, passion and integrity.” Considering he’s one of the most successful, gracious, and generous human beings ever, I think he’s worth listening to.

Augment yourself, not your résumé.

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