How Leonardo da Vinci invented the Targeted CV

Darragh McCarthy 07.07.2014

Leonardo da Vinci is probably best known as an artist who painted the Mona Lisa, but he was also a prolific and brilliant inventor. His designs and sketches have been the basis for inventions such as the helicopter, the parachute, scuba gear, the anemometer, the armored car and the triple barrel cannon.

What I never knew until recently however, is that he can also be credited with inventing the targeted CV!

It's pretty much an accepted fact now that anyone who doesn’t use a targeted CV, is making a big mistake.

By tailoring your CV - which simply means highlighting the most relevant experience and achievements from your career to date for the job to which you are applying – you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of getting firstly the interview and secondly the job. And that's exactly what da Vinci did!

Leonardo da Vinci was born in cultural Florence in 1452, but by the age of 30 and having served his apprenticeship as an artist he decided to move to militaristic Milan. In order to gain work he wrote an application letter, which can be described as the first ever targeted CV, to get a job from Duke Sforza, the military leader who ruled Milan.

Da Vinci knew that what would appeal to the leader of a city who Da Vinci knew that what would appeal to the leader of a city who were at war would be his skills as a military engineer rather than his skills as a painterwere at war would be his skills as a military engineer rather than his skills as a painter, so his letter/CV focussed on what would get him hired. He did incidentally mention his artistic abilities too, but merely as a footnote on his targeted CV.

Da Vinci went on to work for the Duke for 17 years where he put all of his skills and abilities to use. He built and designed weapons of war but Duke Sforza also commissioned him to paint one of the most famous paintings ever, The Last Supper.

All in all, I’m pretty sure the Duke would have described da Vinci as a great hire! I wonder would he have got the job if he had sent the CV he had previously used in Florence…

To see more on this, and a translation of da Vinci’s original targeted CV click here or for more on targeted CVs including a sample CV format click here.

If you are in the market for a new challenging role within supply chain please do not hesitate to contact me. I'd be happy to assist you in your search.

Darragh McCarthy's picture
Associate Director
dmccarthy@morganmckinley.ie