How Cadavers Help me Bring your Resume to Life

C. Jane Taylor, Author

There are few things that spark gratitude as readily as a day spent with cadavers. As part of the yoga teacher training that I assist at the University of Vermont, I spent the day with my yoga students in the cadaver lab learning about anatomy. That our lab took place during the Day of the Dead made the occasion all the more auspicious and me all the more grateful.

I’m grateful to the anatomy and physical therapy students who assisted the lab for us, and I’m grateful to the university and the lab director. I am incredibly grateful to the families of the donors (this is what the bodies are respectfully called) and to the donors themselves. I’m so very grateful that I am not one. Yet.

I was particularly impressed by the care and attention paid by the anatomy students to the donors. To these students, the act of dissection is not simply a medical act, but a relationship imbued with great significance directed by each student’s field of study—pathology, physical therapy, neurobiology, etc.

The donor bodies provide a wealth of information. Each organ, each muscle tells a small part of the donor’s story. The size and tone of the muscles hint at what the donor did for work; based on the age and health of the tissues, we can start to piece together what their life might have been like. It is fascinating.

The work I do writing resumes, bios, and cover letters sparks similar gratitude and fascination. Like the students in the cadaver lab, I extract bits of information from what I’ve got in front of me: old client resumes, work histories, letters of recommendation, LinkedIn profiles… But like the tissues and organs of the donors, these are only part of the story.

No matter how much we know about the donor bodies, we don’t know what they were like as people. We can guess that because they donated their mortal remains, they were generous people who cared about the future, but we don’t know what they thought about, what their ambitions were, or what they loved to do.  

Your resume must reveal these important details about you. It should tell anyone who reads it who you are, not simply what you have done. It should make your goals, talents, and direction exceedingly clear to your reader and to you. Your resume should tell the world what it’s like to work with you, how you think, and why you are so great at what you do, not just what you’ve done and when.

To me, writing a resume is not simply a clerical act, but a relationship imbued with the significance of creating clear direction and a clear depiction of the talents and strengths that make you who you are. Through dialogue, we will bring your career goals to life in the eyes of your potential employer.

This is the kind of dialogue I wish I could have had with one of the donors. She was 97. There are so many things I’d love to know about her life.

If you are looking for something new, this is the kind of dialogue I’d like to have with you.

Photo by David Matos on Unsplash


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