The next time you are adjusting your resume to add the latest skills and/or job (which experts say should be done early and often), take a moment to give thanks to Leonardo da Vinci.
The Renaissance man is often credited with crafting the very first one, years before he began painting the masterworks he’s come to be renowned for. In 1482, around the time he was 30, Da Vinci was looking to land a job with Ludovico Sforza, then de facto ruler of Milan. Sforza wanted to hire military engineers, so Da Vinci wrote a letter to apply. Within the text, he outlined a 10-point list of his abilities that included bridge, cannon, and catapult construction, and water removal from moats, with a small mention of his artistic skills at the end.
According to Letters of Note, the document was believed to be written by a professional writer, and not Da Vinci himself. Either way, he did get hired and 10 years later, Sforza commissioned him to paint The Last Supper.
Close to 100 years later, Ralph Agas, an English land surveyor, penned a bunch of ads touting his 40 years of experience in the industry as well as his particular skills and projects. Although Agas’s ads were the closest thing to a modern resume, the term resume wasn’t commonly used at this point.
The word itself is French and means summary. But there are several different accounts of who actually coined the term to stand for a summary of jobs skills and experience. One predates even Da Vinci, suggesting it evolved in the Middle Ages with English skilled artisan and labor guilds. Wealthy patrons could use the lists to make a targeted hire based on qualifications. Another is that a traveling English lord called his letter of introduction a resume.
1900-1950: A listing of age, weight, and heritage
1990-2010: What the internet did to the resume
The future: not dead yet