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The Great American Job Search: What Everyone Can Learn From Gatsby

No it’s not the 1940s, but Great Gatsby mania is back in full swing. Thanks to the recent Baz Luhrmann interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, one of literature’s most notorious, mysterious, and truth-bending business tycoons. No one familiar with Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby would consider him a model citizen or much of a role model, but Gatsby does provide a couple lessons for job seekers to learn on crafting your resume to hiding some less than stellar past experiences. (Warning mild spoilers ahead).

Boast about your strengths.

The Great Gatsby is a lot about exuberance, but it’s also about creativity and craftiness. Gatsby’s true skill is his ability to recognize opportunity and be crafty in his approach. So ok it’s bootlegging, but it’s still making use of his best assets.

Shift the focus to what you can do in the future.

Once Daisy decided to marry her wealthy counterpart, Gatsby dedicated himself to gaining wealth of his own, moving the focus away from his impoverished past. His determination to do better (a loose term in The Great Gatsby) in the future fuels Gatsby’s fire to re-shift the focus of his ‘resume.’

Don’t dwell on the past.

Jay Gatsby didn’t spend the entire novel rehashing his past of poverty to narrator Nick Carraway, he moved on. Eventually, a job you held, a decision you made, etc… will just be a thing of the past–with distance between you. If you can stop focusing on the past, stop being afraid of it, you’ll help craft your own narrative going forward.

I would by no means advocate taking a Great Gatsby approach to your job search. In 2013, Jay Gatsby’s resume would likely cause some high eyebrow arches–that is if he managed to avoid legal issues (and death). Regardless, the way in which Gatsby turns the tables for himself does offer a couple of lessons for how to craft your resume, hiding a couple not so bright spots.

What do you think? Are there valuable job search takeaways from The Great Gatsby? Comment below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by cdrummbks

Jen Schiller

Jen works as a Marketing Project Manager for a restaurant, a kitchen assistant for cooking classes, helps with database management, does some freelance writing, and more. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland in Government & Politics in 2011. Currently, she resides in the Washington, D.C. area and is an avid sports fan.