What is my dream job and where to look for it?
Job, work, career – three simple words that describe the biggest part of your life.
Think back to the time when you were little and you hung with the other kiddos on the playground. What is my dream job was a great ice-breaker. The odds are that you imagined an exciting workplace, where you were doing something that gives you great pleasure, that gives meaning to your day, and that was the field you pictured yourself grow into (what we, grown-ups call a career path).
But maybe one of the things you did not consider at the age of 8 was that you would actually have many, many options to choose from, and ways to exploit your talents. For example, if you like dealing with finances, you could be an accountant, or work in investment banking. You could be a finance teacher, or an analyst, or deal with tax or insurances. Or a thousand other things.
The fact of the matter is, however, that things rarely turn out well on their own accord, at least not without help. Often you need to give your odds of success a nudge, or a shove, to get where you want to get. And once you choose your dream job, it is up to you to make sure you get it and make a successful career out of it.
So, how do you get there?
After clarifying to yourself what a dream job is and isn’t, the next step to ask yourself What is my dream job?.
1. Learn more about yourself
Clichés are fantastic, we know. But the thing is, if you see yourself ending up literally anywhere, you need to know where that is, and how to get there. And how do you do that – you do research.
So, research yourself – understand what your strengths are, and where you need to work harder. You need to study your aspirations, ambitions, and dress them with the skills you have.
Consider your fears – this will allow you to either deliberately seek out situations where you can face and overcome them… or it will enable you to steer clear of the speedbumps they create for you.
In any case, knowing yourself is the most crucial element of identifying your dream job.
Obviously, this is easier said than done, but things are far from hopeless.
There are two things you can do to keep yourself focused – ask the right questions, and do rigorous research for job opportunities. We have covered the second part in the whereas here we will help you minimize the trial-and-error of pinpointing the right questions.
The Guardian recently published an article, summarizing some of the most informative questions young professionals and people who are eager to change their professional paths can ask themselves. Some of them are quite fun. For example:
“If all jobs paid the same, what work would I do?”
“If I could try someone else’s job for a day, what would it be?”
“Think about a time when you had a great day at work. The sort of day where everything went well and got a real buzz. What were I doing, what did I enjoy and what did I achieve on that day.”
Forbes also had an insightful entry on the What is my dream job topic, and suggest an alternative line of self-questioning.
“If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try ____________, because ____________.”
“If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in ____________, because ____________.”
“My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at ____________, because ____________.”
“When I retire, I want to be known for ____________, because ____________.”
If you think that answering these questions has given you a fairly good idea of what your dream job is in your head, but you still cannot put it in concrete terms, you can have a browse for some quizzes and tests online.
Which brings us to the next step of the Dream Job search.
2. Put your best foot forwards and follow your strengths
Think hard, or think fast and off the top of your head, but try to write down a list of your top strengths. This will help you start narrowing down your career options. Identifying your strengths enables you to bottle neck those career options that both sound dreamy but are also in line with your own abilities.
The answer to the question What is my dream job? depends on your current top skills, as you would probably like to leverage and exploit them. But your personal audit should address the topics of inner values and triggers of conflict.
If you go to BuzzFeed for fun break time quizzes as often as we do, you probably know they do wonders when it comes to distracting you from the workflow. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were light online quizzes that carry some real merit? And that can help you either find the right path if you are feeling lost, or teach you about your working style and optimize your work dynamic?
And there are such things!
Personality and career assessment tests are excellent tools that can help you navigate the career dreamscape. Their biggest strength lies in their ability to provide you with specific ideas for the type of position which you will be the best fit for. After all, the purpose of doing a detailed personality test is to take a look in a metaphoric mirror; this ought to reinforce your knowledge of your personal characteristics which will definitely make it easier to take the right direction.
The Myers-Briggs Personality test is an excellent resource for people who are trying to figure out what kind of work dynamic and career path will resonate best with them.
The test tells you which one of sixteen personality types you are. Each personality type is defined by a combination of preferences (eight possible in total, paired as opposites, and the test gives you the four core ones that characterize your personality best). If you are using the MBTI to help you with career choice, know that although all four preferences are useful to know, the middle two are the most relevant for career choice. They indicate how you perceive information, and what drives your decision making. Your test result will also include a career report that includes an analysis of the different occupations that are most common for others with your personality type. It also tells you the least popular jobs for the type as well.
And if you don’t feel like paying for the MBTI, there is a pretty great free online version available on the web as well.
The Big Five personality test is another solid option but it is much more focused on personality than on career development. While it is a more scientifically rigorous test, with proven validity, it doesn’t do much in the way of work advancement. But it is excellent for learning more about yourself!
Another comprehensive resource is the My Next Move O*Net Interest Profiler. As the name suggests, this test will analyze your aspirations, interests, activity preferences and whatnot, and will calibrate where your career interests lie. You will receive a suggestion for a career path that fits your preferences best, and a list of careers that fit the bill well.
A pretty useful thing about the My Next Move is that it also allows you to browse the different careers by how much previous experience and preparation is needed to go into them. So, you can match a career to your present abilities and skill level.
Other assessments that fall in the same ballpark as this one, are Self-directed Search, and the MAPP Career Assessment test. These are comprehensive and boast accuracy, but, unfortunately, aren’t free. Nonetheless, figuring out your path as best you can is probably worth some investing.
Of course, this is a matter of preference and we think it is best to leave it up to you 😊
Okay. You are probably well on your way to figure out your strengths and corresponding dream job.
3. Spend a minute to think about what you have done in the past
If you have been previously employed #, you already know what you enjoyed doing the most, and what made you dread the workday, even if you have never had to put it in concrete terms.
In order to not repeat the same mistakes, but also reap all the benefits you found in those positions, you need to sit down and create a list or a spreadsheet of your previous experience and answer the following questions (and if you can think of other things that are important to you, add them as well):
- What did I like the most and the least about the company?
- What about the company culture?
- What was the best and worst thing about my manager?
- What were the people I worked with like and would I change them in any way if I could?
- What was the most challenging thing about working there?
- Which of my achievements made me proud?
- Some of my responsibilities I loved, and some I didn’t. What is my dream job and what are the tasks I love?
And if you are just about to enter the workforce now, think about university or school, and address the same questions. After all, the only difference is that you will be substituting “manager” with “teacher”, and “colleagues” with “classmates”.
The point here is for you to be able to select and secure a new position where you wouldn’t need to do what you have always done to keep the aspects you enjoyed. Analyze your experiences and figure out exactly what situations bring out your best work and happiest self, and put it somewhere in writing – you will need it for future reference if you lose the way a little bit 😊
4. What is my dream job must be a hot topic! Talk to AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE
Remember when we talked about the importance of research? This is as relevant in this step as it was in the first.
When you are considering your prospective career path or are switching from one that no longer makes you happy, you need perspective and information!
The most effective way to do this is by talking to people. Ask them about their jobs and industries. How they went about choosing what they would do. Try to learn what their professional ambitions are.
And the trick is not to limit your search to only people that you already know well, because the chances are that you have met these people because you are already doing something similar. Go to informational interviews. Browse on LinkedIn, and read stranger’s descriptions of their jobs. Think about people that inspire you or that you admire, and read interviews with them.
If you want to make the process even more efficient, try to approach people with questions that have come up during your research. People like to talk about themselves and their experiences, and they will be happy to answer!
Person-to-person communication is super important. It is the only reliable way to understand what a job’s day-to-day is like, and you need to know this before setting your heart on a career path.
5. List down the essential ingredients and build a detailed answer of the question What is my dream job?
Awesome! When you do all this, you will be ready to move forward and put your dream job in solid terms.
You can now identify the essential ingredients of your dream job. These are the things that will give meaning to your work day, and probably life. But also, we assume, a decent-sized paycheck.
The next logical step is to turn all the things you already figured out into a concise description. Ideally, it will look something like this.
“What is my dream job is to work where I get to use my gifts and talents of ___________, __________ and _________ to excel at what I love to do, which is _____________, _______________ and ____________.
I get to fulfill my life calling of __________________________ and work in inspiring places such as ___________, ________________, and __________.
Surrounded by the people I love to work with and for, _________, ___________, and __________ … I solve the problems, issues or needs I love to work on, such as ____________, ______________ and _______________ .
My workday is filled with amazing experiences, such as ______________, ________________, ___________ and I get to use my favorite things, like _______________, _____________, _____________ and __________.
I am finally able to afford the life I want, where I can be ___________, ___________, do _________, _____________ and have _____________, _____________ and ______________.
If this still seems hard to do, ask a friend to help out. They often know us better than ourselves and can suggest what activities make us happy and fill us with energy. After all, a friend in need…
Okay. Once you can fill out this template with clear and concrete statements, you will be ready to start matching the dream job description to the descriptions of real-world positions.
For some this is the hardest and scariest part. But don’t worry, we’re here to help 😊
Just as we’ve got you covered on the What is my dream job front, we have a brand-new focused article to show you the most efficient way to find the right job title.