Landing Your Dream Job

For many people, work is a necessary evil – it’s what we do to allow us to afford to do fun things in our leisure time.  Research has found that as many as two-thirds of people in the UK are unhappy at work.

“Most of us will spend around 80,000 hours at work during our lifetime”

That’s a shocking statistic – far too long to spend being miserable and not enjoying what you do.

It’s easy to dismiss the idea of having work that you love as an unachievable daydream.  But if you do, you’re selling yourself – and other people – short.  First of all, you deserve to love what you do for a living and to have your dream job.  And when you love your work, you’ll give of your best: the most successful employees or entrepreneurs are those who are fired up by the pleasure and excitement of what they are doing, who’d love their job even if they weren’t being paid for it.

Celebrate landing your dream job

It’s basic common sense to choose a career that you’re really going to enjoy.  But there’s the rub – most people don’t know what they really, really want to do.  That’s partly because we are conditioned from an early age to aspire to what those around us – parents, teachers, peers, the media – define as a good job or career, and partly because most of us never take the time properly to get to know our own talents and desires.  But it is possible to take control of your future and find your unique vocation. Here’s how.

Know Your Values

You can’t find out what you want until you find out who you are.  What are your values?  What’s most important to you?  What are you passionate about? What do you really want out of life and how do you want your friends and family to remember you?  Taking the time to think about the things that really matter to you is a good starting point for finding your ideal role.  Work is a very important part of most people’s lives, but it is only one part – so get clear about what you want your life and lifestyle to be like, and what kind of work-life balance you’re looking for.  You need to have a context for your career choices.

Spotlight Your Skills

The real secret to finding your career niche is to focus on the skills you like to use and things that you’re really interested in.  Carry out a skills analysis: the trick is to focus on your favourite skills.  The mistake that most of us make when we’re asked to list our skills is to focus on what we’ve done in the past, whether we’ve enjoyed it or not.  But if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always had, and this applies to your career as much as to anything else.  Concentrate on what you like to do, not what your CV says you can do. The second trick is to be specific.  To say that you are a “good communicator” doesn’t really throw a lot of light on the subject.  But if you know that you like talking informally to small groups of people but hate making formal presentations, then you’re starting to get somewhere!

What Interests You?

Once you know the skills you have and most enjoy using, the next step is to find the area or field where you want to apply those skills.   The key here is to focus on what you’re interested in. Let’s face it, if you don’t care about what you’re doing or the environment you’re doing it in, your job satisfaction isn’t going to be very high.  Think about it: if your favourite skills are winning over customers and negotiating deals, a career in sales could suit you well.  But what will make the crucial difference is what you’re selling: if you’re not the slightest bit interested in the product, it’s hard to convince someone else that they should buy one!  It’s the same with any career: you need to be genuinely interested in what you’re doing if you want to be really successful at it.  Write down every single thing that interests you – what books do you read, what films and TV programmes do you watch, what do you talk about at parties?  What kind of shops do you browse in?  Who are your heroes or role models?  Put together a comprehensive list of everything that you get enthusiastic about.

Pulling It All Together

Now brainstorm around these findings: how many different ways are there for you to use the skills you’ve identified in relation to the things that interest you?   Think in terms of roles or activity rather than job titles. And don’t be afraid to think imaginatively – the working environment is more flexible now than it has ever been, so allow yourself to think outside the “9 to 5” and “traditional career route” boxes. Don’t expect your ideal career to jump up and hit you straightaway.  It might, but it probably won’t.  Take time to muse, to think laterally, let your imagination run riot and let your intuition speak to you.  Try to visualise your “ideal life” – if money was no object, or you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you really love to have a go at?  What’s holding you back?

Think, too, about the criteria against which you want to assess all the possibilities.  What are the most important aspects of work for you? The money? Your work colleagues? The working environment?  How do you want to work – on your own or in a team, for example?  Do you want to travel or be based in one place?  You need to know your preferences so that you can find a career that fits you.

Making Your Dream Job Happen

Once you know the kind of career you’re looking for, you need to go for it!  Use all the tricks in the book.  Research your chosen industry thoroughly.  Network as widely as you can and ask for informational interviews.  If necessary, find someone who might give you some work experience or take you on part-time.  Make sure that you are an employer’s most attractive prospect because you are motivated, informed and know what you have to offer.

Finally, remember that, in the final analysis, it’s your life, your career, and your unfulfilled potential if you don’t find and follow your dream.  So go for it – you owe it to yourself.

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