Be clear about what a dream job is and what it definitely isn’t
So, you are on the prowl for the One (the dream job). A lot of people find themselves in this position when they are just about to enter the workforce and are dead set on not wanting to waste their time and talents on a position that will have zero consequences on their future career. Or, in fact, when they want to switch careers because their current career path doesn’t make them happy any longer.
So, they search. But, it turns out, this search too often begins from a place of confusion: people are not clear about what they want. They know there is a job out there that might be their dream job but they cannot even imagine what the specifics of it look like. Their dream job remains in the abstract idea space and never reaches paper (or the search tab on a careers website). This, then, results in a cycle of job hopping in the hopes that one of those days they will crack the secret of the perfect job. But there is no guarantee that it won’t happen a tad too late. When, say, their energy is not as high as it used to be and therefore their contribution, innovation, and influence is much lower than it could have been. Pity.
Well, we think this is a waste of valuable resources, and we would like to prevent it from happening to as many people as possible. This is why, we created the “Selecting and securing the career you love” rubric. It’s a comprehensive guide that teaches you how to approach the search for a dream job. How to assess yourself, and then narrow down the positions that may suitable until you reach the handful that’s worth applying for.
Does that make sense?
Okay, let’s begin simple. Many people do not even know what makes a job, well, … bad. And we’re not saying that any job that is not the dream job is bad, but any job that has an element of badness is probably not you dream job.
So, there it is – the first step to finding what you want to do is being clear about what you want not to do. Let’s try and paint the picture.
What your dream job is not
There are four dimensions along which your job may be judged. How fulfilled it makes you feel as a professional. How well it translates your passions and drives into the workday. How it affects your self-image. And how aligns with your values and principles. That said, this is what a dream job is not.
A dream job is not a position that gives you large paychecks for doing little or no work. This is not how you want your day to pass. A position like this may require no special skills, little knowledge, and as much passion as a boulder has for playing badminton. It is definitely something that will underwhelm you and leave you wondering what your life is supposed to be about.
Sometimes, the not-dream-job will make you question yourself if you are settling for things that are below your abilities. Especially if the position fails to provide you with anything challenging. In fact, if a job makes you feel like you do not care – be it about the future of the company, or whether you will get the approval of colleagues and superiors – it is not your dream job. This is an experience designed to dumb you down, and you are better off further away.
After all, when the redeeming quality of a position is a gold watch at retirement, you may need to step back and reevaluate your place. If you are not fulfilled as a skilled professional, it may be time to hit the career databases. 😊
On the other hand, if the job you’re in, or the one you’re thinking of accepting, has effectively taken over your life but leaves you empty in every other respect, then it is what? You guessed it – not your dream job. These are often positions that simply take more than they give. And if you think about it, doesn’t this make life seem ordinary and even mundane? Imagine having a job that you are constantly engaged with, but nonetheless never end up creating anything worthwhile. How sad would that be!
Any job that leads you further and further away from what makes you happy, or drives you to do better, is bound to make your spirit / soul feel malnourished and depressed. And if you can relate to this statement, it’s time to move on.
New scenario. So, your job, or the job you’re thinking about, doesn’t waste your time, nor does it suck up your entire day but leaving you empty and uninspired. Nice! You are already several negatives closer to the dream job. But there are two more dimensions to consider.
Think about the way your self-esteem is influenced during your workday. If it sinks, then this is not the droids (dream job) you’re looking for. You need a career prospect that makes you feel great about yourself! That makes you respect yourself and constantly builds up your self-confidence. Not the opposite. In fact, any job that makes you feel small or insignificant; or that makes you feel stupid, or ignorant, is not a dream job.
In a similar vein, if your job makes you question or violate your principles, or completely disregards your values and relationships, you should reconsider working there. Especially if the requirements are so entrenched in the company’s lifestyle and work atmosphere, that doing well becomes equitable to turning into a person you don’t really like.
And let’s think about this some more. If this is what the dynamic is within the company, what does that say about the impact it has on the wider community? Or the industry it operates in? Or even the world? Sounds like the job you’re doing or thinking of doing might be making the world anything but a better place. We suggest looking for a way out 😉
In any case, if you’re looking at a career that stresses you out (but not in the good way), that drives you crazy (but not in the good way!), that doesn’t use your best skills and abilities, it’s time to look for something better.
If your job, or the one you’re thinking about applying for, only makes life a bit more bearable, involves working with people you don’t really like, or such that constantly look down on you, and doesn’t really pay what your expertise is worth, it’s time to move on.
But move on to what? To a job that doesn’t have any of the listed characteristics, of course! Because any job that has any number of what we discussed just now, is not a dream job.
And do you know what is a dream job? A dream job is an opportunity to create meaningful products for a fair remuneration. Or doing what makes you feel accomplished and getting paid for it.
But even though, for all intents and purposes, this is at the core of a dream job, you cannot build an accurate representation of the profession title based on it…
So, let’s consider what else a dream job is.
What your dream job is
If you want to be able to attach the Dream Job title to a position, you need to make sure it complies with a pretty hefty set of requirements.
Consider everything we outlined in terms of what a job should not be. Now reverse each statement. Yep – a dream job should be all that.
It is something that celebrates your unique talents and special skills, and rewards your passion and knowledge well. Your time and energy also need to be adequately appraised. In fact, you dream job is something that just plain makes you like going to work – it gives meaning to your day, makes you happy, and it fulfills you.
In addition, a job can claim Dream Job status if it makes you wake up inspired in the morning, and lets you go to sleep satisfied. In other words, it challenges you, makes you want to become better, and in fact moves you into the direction you want to grow in. Your potential does not go unnoticed, and that builds up your self-esteem, because you feel like you are a significant part of what the company is doing. In fact, being in this job empowers you and drives you to do things that make you respect yourself more (and not the other way around!).
There is no feeling of settling involved when you’re working what you love. There is no compromise, either. A dream job provides a scaffold with which you can grow, evolve, and succeed. And this scaffold is typically put together with the company values and principles as the nuts and bolts that hold it together, which are also your values and principles. In other words, what you do resonates deeply with who you are as a person.
And if you try to imagine your colleagues and partners, they are usually equally inspired and driven people, who complement your aspirations well. In fact, working with them, makes you thankful and you feel hopeful about life. Hey, look, the grass may even be greener in your own yard!
Long story short, a dream job should give more than it takes. It ought to give you a sense of direction – be it about your career path, or life accomplishments, and, well, it needs to pay well (or at least what you are worth).
A gold watch at retirement is great, but a lifetime of a sense of purpose is even better, don’t you think?
Okay, now that you have a much more solid idea about what a dream job is and, more importantly, isn’t, you are ready to go into a driven search for the career you would love. Check out our step by step guide on how to do this most effectively 😉