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Why Having an ‘Internal Resume’ Is Just As Important As Having an External One

LinkedIn profiles only say so much about the person you truly are–or want to become.

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BY Glenn Leibowitz - 01 Jan 2019

internal resume is as important as the external one

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

LinkedIn is an excellent place to showcase your external resume, the list of accomplishments, experience, skills, and qualifications that form the professional narrative you want to share with the world.

It's not, however, a platform for highlighting the "why" behind what you do, for sharing the personal values that guide you, for documenting the personal struggles you've overcome, or for featuring the very personal but essential milestones from which you draw as much or even more pride and satisfaction than your very public professional accomplishments.

Those are items you should reserve for your "internal resume," a term I first learned about recently in a widely read article on LinkedIn by Peter Bloom, Chairman of DonorsChoose.org.

In his article, Bloom talks about his transition from a successful career in investment banking and private equity to his new life as an early retiree at the age of 50. Of the several excellent pieces of advice he shares from his experience, his suggestion to develop an "internal resume" resonated with me:

When I was struggling with 'how to retire,' the most impactful insight came from Tom Gilovich, a leading psychologist and former chair of the Cornell Psychology Department. He told me that I was more likely to find fulfillment and balance in retirement if I focused on my 'internal resume' and stopped worrying about my external resume. He observed that many successful people have dense external resumes and surprisingly sparse internal resumes.

So, how does Bloom define an internal resume, and how does it differ from an external resume?

Our external resumes are chock full of degrees, accomplishments, and other validating signals of success...At the same time, our external resumes rarely reveal much about our values, passions, commitments outside of work or the relationships that matter most to us. That's where the internal resume comes into play. Our internal resumes are focused on personal values and the focus we bring to activities that exclusively nurture our inner sense of purpose, or the impact we have on others. Most importantly, no one else will see your internal resume. You only write it for yourself and you are the only person who edits it.

Since Bloom doesn't share a template for an internal resume in his article, I'll attempt to sketch one out here. Consider this a template that you should customize to fit your own concept of what an internal resume should look like. If you come up with a better format, please share it!

I'll divide my internal resume into four "targets of impact": Self, family, friends, and society. And under each, I'll write a few points organized into four categories: "What I value, "My strengths," "Areas of positive impact," and, since I would like to use this document as a roadmap for personal growth and impact, "Goals for 2019 (and beyond)."

1. Self

  • What I value
  • My strengths
  • Areas of positive impact
  • Goals for 2019 (and beyond)

2. Family

  • What I value
  • My strengths
  • Areas of positive impact
  • Goals for 2019 (and beyond)

3. Friends

  • What I value
  • My strengths
  • Areas of positive impact
  • Goals for 2019 (and beyond)

4. Society

  • What I value
  • My strengths
  • Areas of positive impact
  • Goals for 2019 (and beyond)
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