Embracing Human Capital-ism

By Joe Pisicolo


Writing a resume? Don’t let this be you.

The fact is in today’s society, if you are updating your resume only at the immediate prospect of a new opportunity – you are going about it the wrong way. This isn’t to say that the amount of times you update an organized collection of work experiences written on a paper is important. The organized collection of work experiences written on the paper is not what’s important either. What is important is the mindset that elicits the written words.

The job market is competitive: this is something we hear all the time; it’s not a secret. Going through the motions of standard educational procedures and hoping that something rewarding will fall on your lap is not a good strategy – even for smart people. It helps to be smart – don’t get me wrong. However, I’m a firm believer that the moderately intelligent individual with the right mindset gets “the job” over the exceedingly intelligent individual with the wrong mindset. The mindset I’m alluding to is characterized by a persistent mindfulness of one’s own personal development.

In other words, be conscious of what you are doing on a daily basis to develop personally. Personal development of course is broad and subjective. It should be tailored based on the values and motivations of the person in consideration. It could come in the form of an academic course, a physical workout, or a summer internship. While personal development varies in form, it can only work if it is ongoing. In order to ensure that development is ongoing, you should actively try and monitor your progress and set goals for yourself.

Here are three tips to help you manage your own personal development more effectively:

Focus on the present moment when necessary – and focus on the future every other moment. Okay, maybe not every other moment. But the value of taking some time to understand who you are – i.e. your goals, strengths and limitations – cannot be overemphasized. Accordingly, improving your self-awareness will help you to make reasonable decisions about your future thereby allowing you to mold a path that is right for you.

Organization catalyzes success – so clean your room. Nah, you don’t have to clean your room, but you should. Some say messiness can foster creativity, though I have found that being orderly has many benefits including: increased productivity, and the equally important reputation for professionalism. Make it a point to utilize to-do lists, weekly planners, and even excel spreadsheets to effectively manage responsibilities and time. These tools will also help you monitor progress with respect to achieving your goals.

Continuously challenge yourself while maintaining emotional stability. It’s important to remember that you are human, and mistakes are inevitable. You will be subjected to embarrassing experiences, but you have to realize that these seemingly world-shattering moments are so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. With this in mind, do not be afraid to challenge yourself to try new things that may be out of your comfort zone. For every new challenge you accept and conquer, your confidence will grow – and your emotional intelligence will increase.

This approach to personal development is based on the concept of human capital. Simply put, human capital is your ability to produce value in an organization. It is the sum of your knowledge, skills, abilities and essentially anything else you can think of that makes you more productive. As a student at Cornell’s ILR School, I can tell you that human capital is usually only spoken about within the academic context of workplace studies like human resources and labor economics. While the term looks pretty in a text book, I feel that it should be internalized into our daily thinking. Whatever your goals may be, embracing a mindset that aims to increase human capital will help you develop in a way that brings you closer to achieving them.

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