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How to Find Your Dream Job

June 4, 2015

You’ve probably been asked this question since you were in elementary school: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe you’ve known since you were little what that answer was, or maybe it’s evolved and changed as you’ve grown older, but chances are, you have an idea of what your dream job is. You learned what you love, you learned what you are good at, you’ve found your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ve developed a sense of who you want to be and what you want to do to make a living.

Once you have an idea of what that perfect dream job is, you have to find it. That’s where things can get a little challenging, right? How do you really go about finding your dream job?

Know yourself well. Start by taking different personality tests to hone in on your strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest. We don’t mean the types of personality tests you see going viral on Facebook and Buzzfeed, although those can be fun sometimes. Some good options to check out are the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Career Strengths Test—both are free online. These will help you better understand yourself so you can make sure you’re on the right path to finding the right job.

Shaughn, a hiring expert at Kellogg’s, recommends reading the book Strengths Finder as well, which includes a fantastic assessment. “While many people focus on areas of improvement, this book focuses on ones strengths,” Shaughn said. “It is by knowing one’s own strong points that you can begin to understand what roles are best suited for you personally as well as professionally.

Define what you are passionate about. What fires you up? What makes you really excited? What could you talk for hours about? What keeps you up at night? These are clues that will help you pinpoint your passions and then be able to search for jobs that let you dive deeper into them.

Even things that may seem silly could really be what points you to a job you would love but never even thought about. There are millions of jobs out there—it’s pretty much guaranteed any of your passions connect with a job of some kind. (Trust me; people have jobs naming nail polish and diving for golf balls in lakes and testing mattresses by jumping and sleeping on them…)

Reach out to people who are doing what you want to do. This might seem intimidating or even impossible, but it’s a great way of gathering information and building networking relationships that could open doors for you in your job hunt. If you read an article about someone in a magazine or newspaper or see someone featured online, see if you can find an email address or LinkedIn profile for them.

Reach out with a friendly message asking them any questions you may have about how they got started. Don’t be aggressive or demanding, but graciously ask if they have any advice or suggestions for people you could talk to, organizations you could research, or steps you could take to finding your dream job. It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Do lots and lots of hunting. Search online for job postings, scour LinkedIn for networking opportunities, scan the bulletin board at your local coffee shop, read your city’s newspaper, ask your mom and dad and neighbor if they’ve heard of any openings, and just keep your eyes open for anything that catches your eye.

Give other jobs a chance, too. Megan, a hiring expert at Cardinal Health, says this: “While we all wish we could live in an ideal world where we could wait around until the exact right opportunities come our way, the reality is that most of us need a job sooner rather than later. My recommendation to you would be to cast a wide net – apply for your dream jobs, but also apply for jobs that may be more of the solid building block type of positions, rather than pie-in-the-sky, long-term careers.”

Most of us need a job to pay the bills, even if we’re still on the lookout for that dream job, so make the most of those roles while you’re there. You’re gaining experience and diversifying your skills, which will only help to make you even more marketable and ready for that dream job when you find it.

“Even if it might not be your dream job right away, if you pick a path that will eventually get you to your dream job one day, then you are on the right track,” John, a hiring expert at Textron, Inc. says.  

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