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What you're proud of

3 min read

I've always struggled with resumés.

The paper, career-orientated version of my life is one-dimensional at best. Here's what it looks like, more or less:

Built one of the first local classifieds websites. Graduated with an honors degree in Computer Science. Worked in educational technology at the University of Edinburgh. Co-founded a startup and an influential open source community. Worked for the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Was CTO at Latakoo, a video transfer startup for newsrooms. Became Geek in Residence at the Edinburgh Festivals. Co-founded a startup and an open source publishing platform. Worked in engineering at Medium. Became Director of Investments (San Francisco) at Matter Ventures.

I'm proud of those things, for sure, but none of this really describes who I am. Even if I added clubs, programs, or volunteering, it would remain a very transactional list. I don't think the people who know me best would even recognize me in it. Where is the human behind the jobs?

That's what I wonder every time I look at a LinkedIn profile or receive a resumé as part of a hiring process.

Traditional resumés also do a grave disservice to people who have had a more eclectic journey. It's often seen as negative if you've tried a bunch of things that aren't quite a linear career progression. I don't think that's the owner's fault: everyone walks their own journey, which is a combination of luck, opportunities, creativity, and highly emotional decisions that are a product of their circumstances. But those factors, that underlying humanity, is completely lost on the page.

I wish resumés told a story. I want to know the narrative of a person. The why is often more important than the where. Not why did I take this job?, but why do I make the decisions I do? What motivates me?

And most of all: what am I really proud of? For me, it runs the gamut:

I'm proud of moving to California to be closer to my mother when she got sick, and having to be kicked out of the ICU because I wouldn't leave her side. I'm proud of building an online community that was a safe space for teenagers to come out. I'm proud of not being money-driven. I'm proud of financially supporting social justice organizations like Planned Parenthood and the SPLC. I'm proud of a short story I wrote a couple of years ago. I'm proud of cooking my Oma's Indonesian recipes and helping them live on. I'm proud of refusing to fall into the trap of traditional masculinity. I'm proud of always working mission-driven jobs. I'm proud of my fundamental belief that everybody is connected. I'm proud of my terrible puns.

All of these things are much more me. They don't fit on a resumé, but they also don't fit on a social media profile. They're also not just things I've made or organized; some are just characteristics, positions, or actions. But, together with the work I've done and other things I've made, they form a more three dimensional picture.

I wish there was a place where I could read the story of a person. Everybody's journey is so different and beautiful; each one leads to who we are. It would be the anti-LinkedIn. And because you wouldn't "engage with brands", it would be the anti-Facebook, too. Instead, it would be a record of the beauty and diversity of humanity, and a thing to point to when someone asks, "who are you?"