Everyone has this period in life when they start questioning their chosen career path. This kind of “soul-searching” can happen right before graduation, among recent graduates, and experienced professionals alike.
Most often than not, we probe ourselves with this question when the current job no longer feels fulfilling. But what is that coveted “dream job”, really? Is it a myth or a possibility?
What is Your Dream Job?
Christie Mims, author of “Zero to Passion: Get Off The Couch And Into Action” gives a pretty solid answer:
Passion is — at its core — interest plus engagement. When you’re really interested in something, and you’re really engaged in it, you’re going to be happy, you’re going to be fulfilled, right? It’s going to be meaningful work.
In essence, a dream job is something that makes us tick — eager to get up in the morning, show up, and try to deliver our best work every day. At least, that’s the idealistic vision most of us have in our heads. But does a dream job really exist?
Why You May Be Tackling the “Dream Job” from the Wrong Angle
In reality, the “dream job” might be our aspirational, highly idealized vision of our day-to-day chores. In most cases, this visit won’t be ever attainable. And that’s because we get overly focused on “how” our dream days should look versus thinking about “why” you prefer doing one thing over another.
Our skills, interests, and passions typically stem from our core values — beliefs, powering our decision-making process, ethical and moral responsibilities.
If you hate your current job, the reasons can be aplenty. The employer’s values contradict your personal beliefs. your boss or colleagues aren’t great people to be around. Or certain organizational processes rub you the wrong way.
On the opposite, if you are rather content with your current position, analyze your feelings. What aspects of the job make you happy and fulfilled? Is there any way to double-up on these and eliminate some of the minor annoyances? Who knows, maybe you are already working on your dream job!
How to Find Your Dream Job
When it comes to dream job discussions, a lot of people bring up the concept of “calling” as a strong inner impulse to do one thing over another. Listen to your heart, follow your passion, they say! But what if you are hearing crickets?
That’s totally fine. Because most people don’t actually believe that their passions have anything to do with work or education — the majority treats passions as mostly hobby-styled interests.
So if passion isn’t a prerequisite for a dream job? What is? Let’s dig in.
1. Understand What Makes You Happy at Work
Our brain tricks us into thinking that more money = a happier job. Science doesn’t agree. Some of the most hated jobs are those coming with a high paycheck and elevated social status. But oftentimes, people in such roles don’t have a sense of purpose and see little-to-no meaning in what they do.
On the contrary, researchers found that people who find their jobs satisfying are not necessarily well-paid. But they have good relationships with colleagues and supervisors, high task diversity, and job security. High chances are that the same three things impact your job satisfaction levels too.
2. Consider Your Ideal Work Environment
If your current workplace doesn’t provide you with the aforementioned basics — good relationships, task diversity, and security — you may indeed consider changing jobs.
Also, take your personal preferences into account. Some people do better at smaller, more “family-like” organizations, rather than large corps. Others thrive in fast-paced, results-driven environments. To understand where you might “fit” best, try taking The Big Five Personality Test.
3. Think About Alternative Career Opportunities
You might be unhappy because you are not sure which your next career step should be. So go back to the “drawing board” and re-chart your career path.
Consider “future-back” planning. First, write down the ideal role you’d like to land one day. Then your current position. In between, create several potential paths for arriving at your dream destination. You don’t need to necessarily rely on job-hopping alone. Instead, consider part-time work and freelancing as extra possibilities for breaking into the field.
Finding your dream job is an exercise in evaluating different roles and career development possibilities and right-sizing them to your beliefs and skill set.
How to Get Your Dream Job
So you found a good “match”, what’s next? Get well-equipped for job search! You’ll need to:
Let’s dwell a bit more on the latter. How should you approach the discussion of your career objectives with a potential employer? Here are some tips.
- Discuss your skillset: Provide a walk-through of your core hard and soft skills, relevant to the role. Explain how these skills position you for success in the new role and align with the company’s goals.
- Tell about your style of work: Explain why you are looking for a new position (and what you expect out of it) by discussing the skills you enjoy using the most and the ones you would like to develop further through training or practical experience. Emphasize that your dream job would almost certainly involve using these skills.
- Bring up your interests and values: When an interviewer asks “what motivates you?”, treat this interview question as an opportunity to discuss your workstyle preferences, plus reiterate how working in this sector will make you engaged because of your shared values.
What Should I Do if a Recruiter Asks Me About My Dream Job?
When headhunters approach candidates directly, they often want to understand what type of opportunity the person is looking for, and respectively — which type of employer may fit them best.
If that’s your case, try providing the following answer:
Well, ideally speaking, my dream job would involve me using my best skills to help [companies in industry X] gain [particular outcome]. It would be a position that allows me to grow and deepen my core values as this is important to me such as [x, y, z]. From my previous experience, I also found that I’m capable of doing my best work when I’m part of the team that has [favorable quality A, B, C].
You may notice from all of the above information that there was no mention of a specific job title. Businesses are often in a constant state of growth and reorganization, so although you may have looked at the company structure and have set your eyes on a particular role to aim for, in three or five years’ time who knows if that role will still be in existence?
Try not to answer this question with an actual job title. This could risk you being pigeon-holed into a certain type of job or only offered one route of advancement. A job that looks appealing to you today may not look quite as attractive a couple of years down the line. If there are other opportunities available that are worth your consideration in the future, you don’t want your boss or line manager to overlook you because they believe you have a different career goal in mind.
If you want to find your “dream” job don’t think about a future idealistic state — focus on what makes your content today. And then look into ways of magnifying those satisfactory factors within your current or new role!