How to Reverse Job Search

By: Harleen Ghuman ‘22

Finding a job that is suitable for you is an already difficult process.  But let’s say you have had an eye on a career opportunity, whether it be an internship or an entry full-time. After reviewing the qualifications and researching what qualities they are looking for in a potential candidate, you find yourself in a situation where you may not qualify for the job opportunity, due to not meeting their pre-set expectations. By reverse job-searching, you can attract your opportune employer through the lens they want to see you through.  


What Exactly is a Reverse Job Search?

A traditional job search revolves around finding a job opportunity that you qualify for and see fit. Reverse job search is the opposite and requires planning ahead of time (ideally you start this process as early as possible). The reverse job search allows you to take time to build the skills required for future work by using the job description of your dreams as a checklist. This way, you’re checking off the items the employer desires and will view you as the most qualified candidate.


A reverse job search is about working towards those qualifications through internships, student organizations, volunteer opportunities to align your qualifications to that of the job posting’s requirement. If you find yourself in a position where the job opportunity you aspire to achieve has requirements that you find yourself not qualified for, then you can find other opportunities to obtain those qualifications (likely 1-3 qualifications from the dream job list) to be the most suitable candidate for the job. Oftentimes, the reverse job search technique is compared to being your own marketing manager in building your “brand.”


How Do I Reverse Job Search?

Reverse Job Search can be confusing to understand. It is all about aligning your qualifications with the company’s set qualifications they included for the job opportunity you are striving for. If you find that you do not check off an asset on that list, whether it be a coding skill like Python or knowledge in the financial markets, then you would work towards obtaining those skills. 


For example, you could attend a virtual coding academy or self-learn coding and develop an at-home project. You can also complete a certification course to prove your existence of knowledge in certain topic areas, like the financial markets, respective to the example provided. There are countless ways and techniques in which you can achieve these qualifications. A great tool is LinkedIn learning! They developed a partnership with the New York Public Library where you’re able to obtain badges and certifications with the simple entry of your Library ID for FREE. To learn more, click here.


Often times, you can apply the experience you already have and have it align with the requirements they have listed. At the end of the day, it does not matter where you apply the skill, but rather how you have applied such skill. To learn more tips about matching your qualifications to a job opportunity, visit this website for more information! Tip: You’re allowed to have more than one resume!


Outline the Steps

It may be helpful to write out and outline the steps. Listing everything out onto a spreadsheet will not only keep things organized, but you can compare your findings and keep track of your progress. To start you off, we have created a template to get you started and visualize more clearly the process of a reverse job search. An example has been provided to show how you can customize your input and fill in the corresponding sections.  


Finding a job is all about how you present yourself to the employer. You do not have to go out of your way to make sure you are the cookie-cutter employee companies are looking for. Utilize what you know and the skills you possess and apply it to their job description. It is helpful to gain experience, but remember to not change your entire professional profile to appeal to one job opportunity. Good luck with the job search!


Great resources to follow up:


Our template in case you missed it, click here.


Interested in writing a blog for the Career Development blog? It’s open to Macaulay students and alums. If you would like to contribute or have any questions, feel free to email