Almost 30 percent of 25- to 33-year-olds know what their dream job is, but they aren’t sure how to get it, according to LinkedIn.
Are you one of them? If so, consider these five steps to landing your dream job.
1. Make sure it’s really your dream job
When Laura Mael was laid off from a banking job she liked in 2011, she did what many newly unemployed people do: She regrouped.
“I found my dream job by evaluating what I really loved to do over my 25-year career and listing the things I wanted to keep doing as well as stop doing,” said Mael, who works in public relations for a bank.
There were 17 things on the positive side, and Mael gets to do all of them at her current job.
Consider other strategies to ensure that the dream job you’ll be chasing is worth getting. Start by interviewing someone who currently holds the position you covet. Don’t just ask how they got it. See if you can shadow them for a day or more so you can get a feel for what the job is really like.
2. Create a career road map
Rachel Carroll had the benefit of knowing during her college years that she wanted to be a designer. Upon graduation, she sought out a junior designer role only to be rebuffed.
“Before landing my dream job, I was an intern,” said Carroll, who’s the senior head of user experience (UX) at StudySoup. “It isn’t always easy pursuing an internship, [as] the demands are high, and many internships are unpaid or provide only a small stipend. [But] the payoff is invaluable.”
If you find yourself in Carroll’s shoes, don’t think internships are beneath you. They could lead right into your preferred role.
If you’ve been out of college longer, see if you might have to retrace your steps to earn a different degree, continue your education, or take on an entry-level or midlevel position. You won’t want to be disqualified by hiring managers for your dream job because you never gained a basic certification.
3. Work your way up
Your road map should outline each step up to your ideal job. Carroll, for example, wanted to lead the UX team for her startup. So she started on a spectrum that included titles such as intern designer, UX or user interface designer, and head of design.
Make your career road map even more worthwhile by estimating how much time you should spend in each position. You can find hints by considering the job description for your dream role. The description could reveal what experience you need to qualify.
Getting hands-on experience is imperative. It could prove to hiring managers that you’ve experienced — not just read about — everything you need to know for your ultimate gig. It’ll also confirm your career choice for yourself. If Carroll didn’t enjoy the ins and outs of UX design, for example, she probably wouldn’t have loved managing a design team.
4. Build your network
Don’t be afraid to switch employers if it keeps you pointed north on your road map. You won’t be alone if you’re mobile. Thirty-five percent of employees have switched jobs in the last three years, according to Gallup.
Just remember that every former colleague and current co-worker is a connection that could help push you where you want to go. Include them as you network your way to the top.
“I started sharing with everyone, ‘I love to do this, do you know anyone who needs someone who does this?'” said Mael.
Mael also recommended that you:
- Attend seminars, talks, and conferences related to your dream job field.
- Find a career coach or mentor with experience in the field.
- Make connections at every turn and add them to your optimized LinkedIn profile.
Just remember that not all career advice is good advice.
5. Check for blind spots
Now imagine interviewing for your dream job. You’re sitting across from a hiring manager, and they have your resume in one hand and the job description in the other.
What isn’t going to match up? It’s healthy to ask yourself this question as you follow your road map — and before you start applying for your dream job.
Mael, for example, had more than two decades of experience working toward her dream job as a public relations professional. However, she identified four gaps in her resume, including lack of experience with TV or radio and lack of connections with influencers in her field.
One of Mael’s less-than-dream jobs on her way up the ladder, however, allowed her to interview C-level executives on-air. That experience helped her bridge some of the gaps on her resume.
When critiquing your candidacy for your dream job, be hard on yourself. When you identify areas where you’re lacking, strategize on how to improve. Volunteer to take on extra projects at work if you have to. Better yet, start a side hustle to build your expertise.
Start working toward your dream job today
Not everyone’s career path is as straight as Carroll’s. It’s likelier that your path will resemble Mael’s.
Like Mael, it’s OK to be flexible. Your dream job could change as you gain experience and build connections. What you want to do today might be different from what you want to do in five or 10 years.
As long as you’re working in the right direction, you’ll end up in the right place — where your dream job will be waiting.
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