You’ll read hundreds of articles online about how to chase your dream job, but are too scared to chase it. But what if you’ve got no idea what you dream job is?
Some surveys suggest that as few as 30% of the population work in their dream jobs; often people know they’re not happy in what they’re currently doing but can’t quite put a finger on what they do want to be doing.
The best advice? Don’t just sit there, bemoaning your uninspiring job and start taking proactive steps to working out what you want.
Reconnect with your passion
One of the best ways to start your dream job hunt is by reconnecting with the things that really make you happy. After years of working in a job that doesn’t suit you it can be easy to disconnect with the things that used to be what got you up in the morning. Did you love to perform? Were you always reading and writing in school, or playing a musical instrument? Did you relish working on new maths puzzles or keeping up with all the latest technology?
If you’ve started to let these passions go by the wayside as you get on with being a ‘grown up’, it’s time to start reconnecting with them. Doing the things that make you happy can be a great way to reconnect with a time in your life where your future felt open and exciting, and might open up your mind to all kinds of possibilities that you’d closed yourself off to in the past.
Work at what you believe in
Another important part of the process is to start to consider what really matters to you, what your core values are. You might really believe in influencing positive change in the world, or want to be part of creating a product that revolutionizes the way we look at the world. Perhaps you simply believe in being adaptive, working in a constantly changing environment, or you might value being able to be in a role where you get to really think again.
Again, it’s about reconnecting to what matters to you, rather than just doing something because it’s what you know how to do. Finding your passions and values is the first key to working out the kind of role that is perfect for you.
What achievements would make you proud?
A great way to think about what the next step is in getting your dream job, is to think about what you want to achieve. What would make you proud to tell people? These can be concrete successes, as well as changes in behavior or skills. Maybe you want to become a coding whizz. Perhaps you want to be in a role where you secure huge clients. Maybe you want to make it onto the front cover of Time magazine.
Even if you work out that you’re not motivated by achievements you will have learnt something. Like everything else on the list, it’s the first step towards narrowing down what really means something to you, and that’s the first step to actually getting it.
What are your skills?
Now that you’ve worked out your motivations, it’s time to think about what you currently have. Consider the skills you’ve learnt already, both inside and outside of work. Often the most transferable skills will be the kind of soft skills that you can gain from outside of work, or might even just be intuitive to you.
Consider whether you’re a good leader, manager or brilliant operationally. Perhaps you’re great at talking to people, which is a skill useful in almost anything you’ll do. You might know how to use some specific technology, or may even be fluent in a foreign language. Try to be honest about where your strengths lie and it might open up opportunities that you previously thought were beyond you.
Wherever possible, try and express these skills relating to actionable achievements; wishy-washy proclamations of skill sets without any evidence to back them up are unlikely to be very convincing.
Find your weaknesses and work on them
We all have our weaknesses. Whether you struggle with public speaking, just can’t get your head round the latest program or even if you just can’t draw, an important part of the process is identifying what they are and taking steps to work on them.
Take classes (there are plenty of free online resources) on things that represent a gap in your knowledge or put yourself in uncomfortable situations to give yourself the opportunity to learn. Often, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone is the quickest way to gain new skills. As your skills change and improve, you’ll find that options that never seemed possible before will start to open up as realistic prospects.
Talk to as many new people as possible
Often, when you’re struggling to find the right job, simply putting yourself out there and meeting new people with new opinions can be a great way to maximize your options. These needn’t be at corporate networking events, although they can be a great resource for considering what’s out there.
By just opening up new avenues of meeting people, you’ll be surprised how much you learn; you could meet the person with your next dream job or they might tell you about a position that you didn’t even know existed.
What environment do you work best in?
People do their best work in all sorts of different ways, and finding out what works best for you is hugely important. Some people require the solitude of a corporate environment, while others need to work in a more creative space. At the same time, many need to be man-managed, while others like to play an active role in decision making and innovating and so need to have their ideas heard.
Connect it all up
Now that you have a better understanding of your motivations, how you work best and where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you’ll find yourself in a much better position to start searching for your dream role. It’s a great combination of having broadened your horizons, while also starting to cross some opportunities off the list. You’re now in a much better position to being open to finding your perfect role, and when it comes around, you’re not going to miss it!
Matt Arnerich works as a content writer over recruitment specialists Inspiring Group. He focuses on writing careers advice for everyone from recent graduates starting in their first graduate jobs & internships, to experienced professionals looking for senior roles.