Remove Your Resume. Prep Your Prospectus.
How do we articulate our values as we age in the workplace? Do we cite our history or outline a future that takes advantage of our career lineage? While both answers play central roles in today’s typical resume, I have to believe that our current language doesn’t quite capture what we truly have to offer. The problem starts with the word “resume” itself.
As a noun, a “resume” describes a brief account of someone’s work experience. As a verb, “resume” means to return to the use of something. While both might be technically accurate, there’s something static or stale about these words.
But here’s an idea: what if you junked your "resume" and created a personal "prospectus?"
As a noun, a “prospect” is a person regarded as likely to succeed or as a potential customer or employee. As a verb, to “prospect” is to search and excavate for valuable materials.
A prospectus is a future-oriented document that pitches the potential of an investment. Wouldn’t you want an employer to see you in that light instead of a resume that feels stuck in the past?
So, what are some of the potential features of a personal prospectus?
- Yes, you’d include the classic resume narrative of your employment history, but you’d make it brief and add a single sentence at the end of each job that defines your key lesson or the wisdom you’d developed from that work experience.
- Include a paragraph that outlines your “strengths throughline,” skills that you have developed throughout your career history.
- If a modern elder is as curious as they are wise, you’d include a brief section on what you’re passionately curious about these days with respect to new skills you want to build, industries you wish to explore, or functional duties you want to take on.
- Since an investment prospectus often focuses on the upside, you’d finish with a few bullet points about what gets better with age. Consider reviewing Arthur Brooks’ book “From Strength to Strength” or my “Wisdom@Work” to outline some of the qualities that improve with time: EQ, crystallized intelligence, psychological safety, know-how and know-who, ability to mentor, etc.
If you dwell too much on your past, the prospective employer may think you’re ready for the pasture. A personal prospectus helps paint a brighter future, not just for you but for everyone you work with.