The History of the Resume

Where did our tradition of the resume come from? Who wrote the first resume, and why do we still use them today? These are questions that often crossed my mind when I performed my first job search. This was mostly due to my frustration at having to cram all my background onto one page (I hadn’t realized that I should only include relevant information at this point). Well today we are finally going to explore the history of that all-important document, the resume.

Most resume histories begin in 1482 with Leonardo da Vinci composing the first professional resume. Eighteen years later in 1500, a nameless English lord hands out a letter of introduction to acquaintances during his travels. He calls it his “resume.”

Fast forward all the way to 1930. The industrial revolution started taking off more than a century before. New jobs in new industries were rapidly being created. Resumes were usually written up hastily on scrap paper, and were not the formalized documents we have today. Ten years later in 1940, resumes began including personal information like height, weight, marital status, etc. These are things which are no longer included, for perhaps obvious reasons.

In the 1950’s, resumes began to be expected as part of the hiring process, leading them to become more formal documents. In 1960, people began including things like “hobbies” and “clubs” on the resume. The 1970’s saw the beginning of digital typesetting for resumes, and in the 1980’s people began to make the first video resumes. In 1985, employers began using online background checks for potential employees. Two years later,  job seekers started using fax machines as the most modern way to send a resume. In 1994, the internet went public, bringing with it several job posting websites, and one year later email replaced fax machines as the best way to send a resume.

Now, we enter the new millennium of resumes. In 2002, interactive resumes became available as a new format. One year later, the professional website LinkedIn launched as a new way for professionals to connect to opportunities. 2006 saw an increase in the popularity of the video resume, and video resumes began appearing on Youtube in 2007.

Today, resumes have continued to evolve. Resumes can be formatted as infographics, or include links to other social media. They are keyworded to make it through Applicant Tracking Systems, which search resumes for specific words and skills. As you can see, resumes change on a pretty regular basis. When technology advanced, or the professional world changed, the format and purpose of the resume changed with it. Who knows what the next few decades will bring? One thing, however, seems certain: the resume won’t be going away any time soon.

Are you interested in learning how to optimize your resume, LinkedIn, and job search to navigate the job market today? Email us at We offer free initial consultations, and have helped hundreds of career changers make successful transitions.

By: Julia Pillard, Career Solutions Group

Also check out this wonderful infographic that contains much of the information presented here: Mashable: The Modern History of the Resume