Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What is an Evergreen Resume?

View of the inside of the Elmer Holmes Bobst L...Image via Wikipedia

Your ticket to the good life begins with a sheet of paper. Indeed, but that sheet of paper can become the magic tool that will help you reach your goals. I know a Harvard graduate who owns a 14-page resume, but --irony or ironies!-- he has been unemployed for 6 years. A one-sheet resume often is better than a 14-page one.

To land a job we need a resume; no one can argue about this fact. But to land a good job, you need a good resume; to land a fantastic job, you need well crafted resume.
As a result many applicants spend a great deal of time and money crafting and then massaging that resume until it can no longer be improved upon. In the end, the time, the effort, and the money spent really pays off, since we all eventually manage to get a job (except the Harvard grad with the 14-page resume).

But is the whole object of a resume to simply find a job?

Unfortunately, for 99 percent of workers it is. Once employed, we get into a ghastly routine: collect a paycheck every week or every 2 weeks, put food on the table, pay the rent, pay all the other bills, maybe save a little for a laptop, a short trip to Cancun, etc.

While Jacob (Genesis) saw --in a magnificent dream-- a ladder that reached up to heaven, the earthy go-getter and self-starter worker should see the initial resume as the bottom step of the ladder with which to climb upward to better things--financial heaven! Jacob's ladder is another name for "getting up there!"

If you take a workshop, a seminar, an online or classroom-attendance course, update your resume. Do not wait! Did you get married or divorced? Update your resume! Did you have a child? Spruce up your resume. Did you travel overseas? Have you written a book or article? Are you volunteering for something? Did you run a marathon? Then list the event. Often what on the surface may seem an insignificant event, in the end it can be the attention grabber that can bring that awaited promotion.

Here's an anecdote from my personal experience: once I updated my resume by adding a remark: "Earned 3 credits at NYU: Proust and Memory Enhancement." When a new boss came into the department, she interviewed me for an opening as district manager that she had just created. She simply said to me, "I love Proust; my minor was French Literature."

Here's an experience from literature: one of my favorite novels is Stendhal's The Red and the Black. The hero, Julien Sorel, uses a ladder not only to ford rivers and to negotiate thick gardens and terraces, but also to climb up and into Mme. De Renal's boudoir. The point is that like Julien one must constantly carry the image of the ladder of success on our shoulders.

On another occasion, when my second child was born, I updated my resume. And almost as an afterthought, as if in a whim, I included my wife and children's names and dates of birth--all in one line. Again, this proved to be fruitful during a promotion interview. My boss said, "My daughter's name is Kay also--same age as your daughter. Maybe they should get together."

Just as a fine gardener keeps his grounds green, all ambitious workers should keep their resumes evergreen. Every time you update your resume send a copy to the Human Resources, and your boss. This little maneuver will get you ahead of peers and competitors.

At the feared annual evaluation, bring up an updated resume. Use it to highlight what you have been doing to enhance your skills and how they will help you to be a better producer; perhaps even become a stellar performer.


Convert the traditional resume into an evergreen resume. The updates are the steps with which you are building the ladder of success.

In war, the Biblical Maccabees, constructed huge ladders to climb walls and conquer their enemies. Plato (Socrates) saw a ladder as the means to reach the immutable realm of ideas (universals); in business, you must trust the ladder that you yourself have built.

Wittgenstein --discussing language and meaning--said,
"he must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it."

My recommendation is keep the ladder handy, for there's always higher heights to reach in the financial heavens.

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After a long (40 years), productive, and successful career in business, I now teach college. The articles that follow are all written from personal experience.

If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either or Barnes and Noble.
Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

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