what’s more imporant: the shell or the egg?

One of the home­work this week is to write a resume (CV) of myself later to be sent to my poten­tial employer in my summer intern­ship. First of all, the school has required all resumes to be writ­ten in the “stan­dard­ized format” (read “boring out­dated format”), which has required the stu­dents to reveal their cumu­la­tive GPA and all bunch of boring details like edu­ca­tion, etc. That got me won­der­ing why the school didn’t go ahead and do the work for me instead of having me fill in all the infor­ma­tion the school already has access to. Now, I thought one of the few things I remem­ber from the man­age­ment classes is that “personality matters”. Inter­est­ingly, the “stan­dard­ized format” doesn’t even give you a hobbies/interests field to fill in. Appar­ently the school doesn’t really want to know about me as a person.

On the con­trary with my school’s direc­tion, the market seems to think that the shell of the resume is prob­a­bly more impor­tant than the con­tent. Some time ago I came across a very out­stand­ing resume that serves to prove this point. More­over, a simple Amazon search for “resume writing” turned up 4,000+ results. This raises a pretty inter­est­ing ques­tion: “If the resume writ­ing skills can improve my inter­view results, given my resume con­tent is the same, then why the heck do I have to work so hard for the resume content?”


So what are the resume con­tent? It would be your col­lege degree, your cumu­la­tive GPA as included in my “standardized resume”. These are the things that we’ve been work­ing so hard for since at a young age. Then, if there are so many “instant ways to get your resume noticed in today’s crowded job market”, why don’t we just do the “instant ways” instead of having spent prob­a­bly hun­dreds of thou­sands of money to get that little degree title which occu­pies prob­a­bly 3 – 5 lines of text in that little piece of paper? Isn’t the shell more impor­tant than the egg?

As abstract as it may seem, those titles, col­lege degrees are actu­ally also part of the shell. Then what is the egg? It’s your per­son­al­ity. (I hate to use this term because it sounds like those pro­fes­sors, but that’s what it is) There are hotel CEOs not having a degree about hos­pi­tal­ity. That more than serves the point that the degree really doesn’t make too much of a dif­fer­ence, no matter what the soci­ety tries to make us believe.

I had a con­ver­sa­tion with a friend of mine about this topic a couple of days ago, and he said one thing that explained this stuff pretty well:

After we grad­u­ate and come into the soci­ety, we all have to start learn­ing from the ground up anyway. It is naive to think that more than 10% of what you’ve learned at school actu­ally applies in the real world. What truly mat­ters is your own capabilities.

This brings us back to the same old ques­tion: what’s the point of wast­ing so much resources get­ting part of the shell, learn­ing about a bunch of use­less stuffs so you can get past the exams? That is a big waste of resources. People feel more proud when they are in the quan­ti­ta­tive finance pro­gram more than in the engi­neer­ing pro­gram because they had higher admis­sion grades. Wel­come to real­ity; the world of package/tags; the world of absurdity.