The Reverse-Resume

This is a guest post by Jessica Sweet:

There’s no question that a great resume can make all the difference between waiting for that call and actually getting it. But when you do get the job, you want to make sure it does more than just pay the bills. You spend too many hours at work to settle for one that just pays the bills, and leaves your soul drained.

So, how do you know that the job you’re after is one that is going to be really right for you? How can you know that you’ll find the work meaningful, fulfilling and within your “zone of genius”? 
You can help to ensure that your next job is your dream job by searching your soul before searching the want ads. Here is an effective tool to help you do just that. 
Introducing, the “reverse-resume”, a tool to help search for what you want and need in your next job so that when you land it, you’ll know it’s a great fit for you. It is a structure to use for figuring out what qualifications the JOB needs to have before you'll entertain giving it some of the best years of your life. 

“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carroll
Job searching that starts with soul searching is much more likely to land you a job that feels more like a calling. But first you have to know where you are going. The way to do that is to write your reverse-resume. 
Here's a basic template to get you started. It may look familiar at first glance, because it looks much like a regular resume. But notice how the answers are not about what you can do for the job, but about what the job does for you. 

  • Objective: What is your objective? Not just to find a job, but to find one that gives you meaning, purpose, and contributes to your overall happiness. It's your responsibility to define this as clearly as possible for yourself. What ticks those boxes for you? What do you find meaningful? What gives you happiness? And what purpose or vision do you have for yourself?
  • Experience(s): What do you want to experience in this next job situation? Do you want to lead a team, be part of something that's growing, have a chance to travel or work on a particular project? What things will you be doing day-to-day and also what larger vision will you be working towards? Define your desired experiences no matter how large or small.
  • Education: What do you want to learn from this? From skills to personal growth experiences, what do you want to gain?
  • Skills: What parts of who you are and what you know do you want to get to use on a regular basis? Do you love to do something and you want to do it as part of the next job? If so, write it down!
  • Salary Requirements: What do you want to make? What will make you feel great about your financial health? It’s easy to say you’d like to make a million dollars – but if so, be prepared to work for it. This isn’t an exercise in the law of attraction as much as it is about defining your goals. So write down what you think your work is really worth, and your goal will be to not accept a penny less. 

Your reverse-resume, the product of your soul searching, will then inform your real resume, and which jobs you send that resume out to. If you find that you must compromise –even after gaining clarity on the work you want to do – then you will at least fully understand where you have compromised. Understanding where your job falls short does a few things. 

  • It places the “blame” where it belongs: You know your job isn’t as great a fit for you as it could be, and you’re less likely to blame yourself. While before you might have wondered “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just do my job and get along?” You’ll now know that it is because the job didn’t quite meet your standards. It moves the “blame,” and you’re less likely to feel broken and more likely to recognize the situation for what it is. 
  • You can be proactive: When you know where your job falls short, you know what direction to move in, and you may be able to make changes. Do you want more of something and less of something else? Work with your boss, be outstanding at what you can control, and do everything you can to move your job closer to what you want it to be. 

A couple more tips:
  • Strive to create a balance between your vision and what is realistic - there may be several jobs between where you are now and the ultimate vision.  
  • Rely on a great resume writer to help you position yourself so you are poised to land the job of your dreams, even if there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  • If you lack clarity about what you really want, what you are best suited for, or what work you will find most fulfilling, get coaching! It’s better to take some time now to know where you are going than to end up where you don’t really want to be. (Again!)
A reverse-resume is a great tool to help you gain clarity on yourself and to connect that knowledge to your job search.  Good luck, and please post any questions or comments below!

Jessica Sweet is a Master’s level Social Worker and Life Coach. She works with women to help them gain clarity on their dream jobs and get paid to do what they love. She lives in Natick, MA with her husband and two young daughters. You can visit her web page at: and join the Facebook community at