I know, I know—this headline is going to elicit groans from all of the memories of having to deal with an HR department when getting hired, promoted, or let go. I get the stigma associated with HR. But in my research and identifying the keys to success in life, I was looking for analogies that could best explain how it worked. When doing so, the first one that came to mind was the résumé: so much so that I created a Life Résumé Template in the Downloads section of the site. So, how does this talent assessment process work, and why does it match life’s process toward success so well? Let’s take a look.
The Key HR Processes and Components of the Résumé
The two most common mechanisms for the first part (not counting the application form itself) are the résumé and the cover letter. The résumé provides a summarized history of your work experience, while the cover letter provides the ability for you to make your case as to why you think that you are the best fit for the role.
Résumés have evolved over decades to become as efficient and effective as possible at proving your qualifications. While the modern form is analyzed by algorithms to assess and filter people out initially, we’re going to focus on the version through the lens of a human. What’s interesting about the résumé is that it evolved in a way using the same principles/components that success and meaning in life happen to follow (since your résumé is a summary of your career growth, it makes sense):
There are other possible components, but you get the point. In life, the point is growth toward a better future state, which will keep you happy, healthy, and thriving. You have desired goals/outcomes, and you have experiences that you undertake to achieve that growth and those outcomes. Your beliefs—bolstered through the evidence of your success like accomplishments—carry you through when times get tough. You get support when needed to get further than you could alone. And, given everything that you are and everything that has happened to you to date, you make deliberate choices as to how to proceed. These are the elements to feeling that your life has meaning, direction, and purpose, and that’s why résumés have them: those same elements show that you have direction and purpose in your career and that you are ready for this next experience/opportunity.
So the résumé is a great example of how HR had figured out the key components of success in a new employee, and the cover letter gives that person a shot to make their case verbally as to how much they want the role and believe that the role and company are right for them. The interview tests to make sure that they have the skills, competencies, and fit necessary for the organization’s needs, and then there is a whole onboarding process in place to help support their transition into the organization and the position.
Development works similarly: managers work with HR and leadership to identify the next role in the career path, look at the additional skills and experiences you need to move into it successfully, and then match the projects and assignments to the development opportunities of the employees. This ensures that the employee is continually growing and developing into the employee that the organization will need in the future at higher levels of the organization. Ideally, the employee will stay, contribute, and develop until he or she identifies a new role, field, or industry to explore that can only be done at a different company or as an entrepreneur. That’s the goal of HR, and that’s why they’ve cracked the code on human recruitment and development.
You should take these learnings and apply them to your life. No, you don’t have to create a “Life Résumé” if you think that’s hokey, but you can identify the goals you have, the experience you need to get there, the experience you’ve had already that shows progress, the accomplishments so far that have shown that you have the potential, and the support you might be able to secure to foster your development. Life is more about moving forward than it is about anything else, and the only way you can do that is if you have the right direction and a sense of how to proceed along the path you’re putting yourself on. Do that correctly, and you’ll not only be on your way but you’ll feel like you have direction and purpose, and that might be the best part since it might just fill a hole that you perceive in your life.