What if I told you that the best way to write your resume is to write it backwards? That’s right, scratch everything you’ve learned about building your resume and start at the end instead. Let me explain:
How would you feel if you were in an interview and, as the interviewer began to read your resume, your accomplishments began to magically vanish from the page? Most people, I imagine, wouldn’t exactly enjoy seeing the fruit of their labor disappear before their eyes. What if I told you, however, that it’s possible to harness this negative experience to help you build your motivation to succeed? I call it building your “proactive resume.” Here’s how to do it:
Grab a copy of your resume and start looking for gaps. Do you want to move into a communications role but don’t have much writing experience? Identify an organization that will let you write for their blog. Want to learn more about public policy? See if there is some freelance research you can do for a nonprofit. Next, make a list of all your options and pick the top two or three choices.
Now comes the fun part: add them to your resume. Put in the title you want – be as specific as possible – and then add in the responsibilities. Shorten your resume accordingly, chopping out the excess to fit your accomplishments onto one page. Then, include your own initiatives and improvements, outlining as specifically as possible how they remedied a problem or improved upon a previous system. Your imaginary achievements may be impressive (we hope!), but also make them reasonable and attainable.
How is this helpful? While it is easy to add imaginary accomplishments to your resume, taking them off is easier said than done. It’s like your resume disappearing in an interview. By proactively adding new positions and responsibilities to your resume, you feel the new found “weight” of your “accomplishments.” This will help you build the motivation to succeed.
In addition, identifying possible future responsibilities and personal initiatives is particularly useful when it comes to thinking critically about what you have to offer an employer, and imperative if you are to succeed in an interview. Having to add positions to your resume also forces you to think about the most realistic options available to you.
One important caveat, however: building your proactive requires you to be realistic with yourself. A recent college graduate should probably not start out with “President of the United States” or “CEO of Microsoft” as proximate roles. Goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. The goals you choose ought to push you towards the implementation of steps that lead to those goals, but this is only possible if your goals are reasonable.
Christopher Roberts is a Project Manager at the Philanthropy Roundtable.
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