Why A Body of Work Has Greater Long Term Value Than a Resume

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No one is looking out for your career anymore. You must find meaning, locate opportunities, sell yourself and plan for failure, calamity, and unexpected disasters. The new world of work requires a new lens and skill set to ensure your career success. You must create your own body of work as you toil in different organizational systems and structures. — Pamela Slim

For many years, a resume has been the standard by which people are hired. People submit their resumes (many of which are never actually seen by anyone) through job boards, keep their fingers crossed, and if they’re lucky they find a job. But this approach is not only flawed, it robs us of our humanity because it’s repetitive, not creative.

When I finished business school in 2009, I realized my resume was worthless, especially since more than anything it was a resume of my failures. But what it really lacked was any tangible evidence of the things that I said I knew how to do. I had an undergraduate degree from Berkeley and an MBA from Pepperdine, and most of what was on my resume was just bullet points and bullshit.

So I started using the internet to make things, which resulted in far more than tangible evidence of my skills. It turned into a substantial body of work, and as Nancy Duarte said to me in an interview “I’ve become the antithesis of what my destiny would dictate.”

1.You Own Your Body of Work

For my 10 years of work in corporate America, I had nothing to show for it. I didn’t own any equity or any intellectual property. There was not a single thing I could point to and say “I played a role in making that happen.” My business partner Brian said to me recently “people have spent generations building other people’s wealth and never questioning it.”

A body of work, on the other hand, is something you own completely. It an opportunity to create your own wealth. You can take it your next job. You can leverage it for opportunities and it can serve as a great tool for both personal and professional growth. And you can potentially generate income from it. It can serve as the foundation for your creative legacy.

2.Your Body of Work is Life Long

Creating a body of work isn’t something we do when we’re temporarily high on inspiration and hokey new age bullshit.

Impulsive creativity is fun. Habitual creativity, on the other hand, leads to resonant and impactful work.

Building a body of work is a lifelong commitment in which we embrace the understanding that our cumulative output is more important than any individual piece of work

  • In my conversation with Steven Kotler, he said that most of what we know him for is only a small fraction of his entire body of work.
  • If you looked at my Moleskine notebooks and journaling software, you’d see thousands of unfinished, incoherent entries and false starts.

By approaching it as practice over the course of a lifetime, we put ourselves in a position to build a substantial body of work.

3.Your Body of Work Helps You Build Valuable Skills

By building a body of work, you develop skills that will serve you for a lifetime.

  • A software developer could build a suite of apps to develop his own body of work, which in turn would make him more appealing to a company that might hire him
  • Writers can build a blog or even a substantial body of work here on Medium, which in turn could lead to the opportunity to write for other publications or even write books.

While building a body of work, what you’re doing is prioritizing earning potential over current earnings.

4. Your Body of Work is More Rewarding Than Building a Resume

Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect and impact. For individuals it’s the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including all the tangible and intangible things you’ve created — Pamela Slim

An average day of working on a resume goes a bit like this: Adjust font sizes, layout, fix grammar errors, and make sure it matches up with the bullet points of the job description you’re submitting for. Submit, rinse, wash repeat. Do that 100 times and if you’re not bored out of your mind, something is wrong with you.

But a body of work is much more rewarding. It’s an expression of our soul’s calling. It’s purpose goes far beyond just finding a job. It provides us with a sense of self-actualization, allowing us to reach the highest point in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

5. Your Body of Work Gives People a Reason to Find You Interesting

One of my favorite Chris Sacca quotes is “your GPA only matters to people who have no other reason to find you interesting.” And you could replace GPA with a bunch of other things as well.

Imagine two job interviews. In both interviews, the candidates are asked: “so what have you been currently doing?” One candidate says “submitting resumes and looking for a job.” The second candidate points to something they’ve been building, basically they have given people a reason to find them interesting. The second is much more likely standout.

The value of my body of work both personally and professionally has gone up significantly over the last 8 years. And my resume is still just a piece of paper with some job titles on it. My friend AJ Leon once said about his job as an investment banker “there was far more to me than could possibly expressed in a place with so many rules.” What I’d add to that is that there is far more to all of us than possibly expressed through a piece of paper.

If you’ve never read it, I can’t recommend my friend Pamela Slim’s book Body of Work, highly enough.

Before You Go…

If doing the best work of your life is important to you, you’ll love my free guide: “Optimizing Productivity & Creativity.

The tactics I’ve packed into this guide allowed me to write over 1 million words in the last 2 years. What could it do for your life’s work? Don’t miss it.


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