When looking for a job, many people agonize over updating their resume (or creating one). They worry over the font, spelling, letter size, word choice and more. They spend hours thinking about what they do at their current job and how to make these job duties sound incredibly important. Yet, did you ever wonder who created the resume? Or, about the many changes it has undergone? Before we get into what a resumé is, let’s break down what it means.


The word resume is from the French word resumer, meaning to “to sum up.” It’s also derived from the Latin word resumere, meaning to “begin again.” Thus, we sum up our work experience by listing the positions we have held along with the job duties for each one. Every time we submit a resume, we are trying to begin again — to begin a new job. It’s not surprising that the origin of the word resume is so old. It was Leonardo da Vinci who created the first resume in 1482. However, many say it was more a cover letter, describing all of his interests and accomplishments. Da Vinci was a polymath; he was interested a great deal of things that would surely take many pages to fill. In The first person to actually use the word was an English Lord in 1500. He called his handwritten letter of introduction a “resume.”


From there, a resume has changed in size and structure. It wasn’t until the 1950s when it became a professional tool and required by employers. We are shocked to learn that before then, a resume was merely a formality and was handwritten on a piece of paper. In the 1940s, it looked like a profile that included a person’s personal information, including his or her height, weight and marital status. Jump to the 1960s, when the “Interests” section was included. We don’t see this information on a resume today because it is not relevant to an open position. In the electronic age of the 1970s, it looked more professional through word processing and typesetting. When computers hit the scene, a resume took on a more creative look with different fonts, graphics and colors. The way it was sent to employers changed as well. Emailing has become the standard method of delivery, which replaced faxing and mailing before that.


Today, a resume tells a person’s “story” rather than simply a list of past jobs and some stats. Each position gives a brief history of the tasks performed including a challenge and/or an accomplishment. It is more colorful with easy-to-fill templates from the Internet. Also, social media platforms and online job boards provide more ways for a resume to be seen via links and postings. Although it has changed in many ways, a resume is still a valuable document that employers require as well as look forward to reviewing.