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How to Write a Resume: A Totally New Approach That Will Get You Hired

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resume in typewriter

What if there was a way to truly land your dream job?

I’m not talking about landing your dream job in the world of unicorns and rainbows, but in the real world — the one where you have bills to pay and maybe even mouths to feed. What if you could know what you love to do and get paid to do it? (Click here to tweet this question.)

How would that change things in your life?

If you’re starting to get excited, you’re not alone. Because there’s a powerful tool that will help you to define and land your dream job. It’s called The Reverse Resume.

This will help you approach the search for your dream job from a new perspective. So hold onto your heels. You’re about to be blown away.

The limitations of regular resumes

You are, undoubtedly, familiar with a regular resume.

It’s a method for trying to cram every positive detail about yourself and all your career accomplishments into a single page. The goal is to impress upon those who make hiring decisions that you might be a good fit for a particular job.

The regular resume is meant to sum up your entire range of experience on one sheet of paper. Then that piece of paper is usually shuffled, filed, lost or disregarded. Not a nice way to be treated.

Flipping the status quo with a Reverse Resume

The Reverse Resume, as you might expect, is exactly the opposite.

Instead of summing yourself up neatly on one sheet of paper for review and critique to see if you meet criteria for the job, you sum up criteria of the job to see if it meets your standards.

Instead of hiring managers asking, “Is this candidate worth our time to bring in?” You ask, “Is this job worth my time — perhaps years of my life?”

The Reverse Resume can help you answer that question in a way that’s in sync with your deepest desires — even if you don’t know what those are just yet.

Feelings, not functionality

There’s a reason your job isn’t working for you: You don’t like it.

At first glance, not liking your work comes from the “soft” world of feelings, right brains and other touchy-feely things. But the truth is, humans are emotional beings. Not liking your work is just as valid as any reason you might give for wanting a different job.

It’s hard for many people to accept that feelings prevent their job satisfaction. It may be easier to accept that you’re simply no good at your job, don’t have the right skills or don’t have the right training. Clients have said to me, “I can’t believe I’m going to give up this job that pays so well because I don’t like it. It feels so irresponsible.”

Generally, the less we like something, the worse we are at it, and the less inclined we are to want to engage in it or immerse ourselves in it deeply. There’s no good reason to endure life at a job you don’t like.

There’s so much work out there to be done — so much work that could benefit from the most vibrant and alive version of you. So don’t settle for an un-animated version of yourself.

When you look for your next job using The Reverse Resume, your goal should be to capture what you want your work to feel like. Instead of a description of the function of your job (what you’ll be doing) start with a description of what you’ll be feeling and what happens that makes you feel that way.

  • Are you feeling invigorated by the conversation you get to have with brilliant coworkers?
  • Are you feeling stimulated by the interesting problems you’re working to solve?
  • Are you feeling like a superhero because you touched someone’s life?

Start with what you love to feel, what lights you up, what skills and talents you love to use, and the situations or environments you most love to be in or problems you love to solve. Ask yourself: Where and when do I thrive?

The environment where you thrive

Once you paint that picture of what you want to feel and where you thrive, work backwards from there. You can ask yourself, what kinds of jobs would be most suited to someone who needs to be solving interesting problems and be surrounded by brilliant coworkers? A police officer? A scientist?

Keep brainstorming ideas. When you run out of ideas, it’s time to narrow down your list.

The deeper you dig into your Reverse Resume, the more you’ll know about how your environment should feel. Should your work for a startup or a corporation? Is working a 9-to-5 a better fit for you, or do you want to become an entrepreneur?

Keep asking yourself where you’ll be happiest. This is the criteria that will help you narrow your list (otherwise, you’ll just end up in another job you don’t like.)

Remember though, there are lots of reasons not to like a job. If you’re starving to death because your job doesn’t pay a living wage, you might grow to hate your job. If you never live to work a day because you’re in school too long, you might never know if you like your job.

So you’ll have to balance many factors when you think about your happiness, not just how joyful the actual job might make you — though this does count a great deal. Only you get to decide how much weight to give each thing. It’s up to you and your individual circumstances, and what makes you… well, happy.

Try it yourself

Instead of searching for your dream job the old-fashioned way — looking at specific job titles and roles to see if they might fit — turn the whole process backwards with The Reverse Resume.

  1. Think about who you are, how you want to feel and where you thrive.
  2. Think about what jobs might feel like a good fit for you and make you happy.
  3. Refine your list until you come up with a job that seems like the perfect happiness match.

You don’t have to grope in the dark any longer. Many people don’t know where to start when they try to figure out what their dream job is. But having structure makes the process so much easier. Finding that dream job is possible! I’d love to know if you have success using The Reverse Resume.

Jessica Sweet, LICSW is a career and life coach dedicated to helping 45-55 year olds find or create work they love. You can get a more complete version of The Reverse Resume and her entire suite of free tools in the Passion Portfolio at http://www.wishingwellcoach.com

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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  • LawyerLibrarian

    1. I don’t understabnd: what is the reverse résumé? Can you explain a bit more articulately? Can you provide an example or two?
    2. I’ll be happy to help with editorial assistance to correct the errors in this piece, if you’d like.

    • Jessica Sweet

      The reverse resume is a powerful tool you can use to decide if jobs meet your requirements before you consider taking one. If you think about what you really want and need in a job – what will make you happy, what kind of work will inspire you, etc., and you write it down, you can use it to vet any potential jobs before you consider applying.

      A job is something that is going to take up precious years of your life.
      Yes, you need one, but please make sure it’s a good one!!

      You can get a download of the Reverse Resume (and more free tools in the Passion Portfolio) on my website at http://www.wishingwellcoach.com

  • Lena Pásztor

    Resume requires effort. I really appreciate those tips and guideline that you have posted here

  • Lucetta Ecclestone

    Hi, Thanks for posting these guidelines about making a resume. You are correct that we need to mention here all our positive points and experiences that will make us fit for the job we are aiming for. The most important is we need to be honest with our credentials too.

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