How to find your dream job

Mental Health

Thinking of turning your dreams into reality? We share eight quick tips to help you take the plunge, and go for your ideal role

Thinking of turning your dream into your day job? You’re not the only one. Nearly three quarters of our friends across the pond in America have quit a job to chase a career they’re passionate about, according to a 2018 survey. Yet in contrast, according to research from 2016, a whopping 84% of young people in the UK aren’t pursuing their ideal roles. Are we just more reserved about going for what we want, or is something holding us back from following our dreams?

Whether you’re considering making the switch from the general nine-to-five to something more fulfilling, or you’re ready to release your creative juices and jump right in, we’ve got eight quick tips to help you find your dream job.

1. Find your focus

It’s time to ask yourself: what do I want? Maybe you’re thinking of taking something you love already (a hobby, a long-time passion, or just a general interest) and finding a way to channel that into a specific career path, or perhaps you’ve just got a more vague idea of what you want (to feel more fulfilled, to have more free time, to focus on your work-life balance).

Life Coach Directory member and career coach, Felicity Dwyer, suggests using your imagination to help you figure out what you really want to do.

“Imagine yourself three years from now, writing to a friend about how you love working in your dream job. Describe all the elements of the job that you love – the tasks you’re doing, the location and type of workplace, the colleagues you’re working with, the sector and values of your organisation, the positive feedback you’re receiving. Most importantly, how you feel about doing this type of work.

“Really try to imagine those feelings, that you already have this dream job. This will help you believe it’s possible. You might like to then write about some of the strengths and personal qualities that helped you to get the job, from this future perspective.”

2. Be specific

According to Universities UK, between 2018 and 2019, around 2.38 million students studied at UK higher education institutes. While 90% of 2016–17 graduates were in work or went on to study further within six months of graduating, not all went on to work or study in related fields. Knowing the rough area you want to work in is great – but it’s important to recognise that it’s just a first step. Where, specifically, do you want your career to go?

3. Consider your path

Once you’ve identified your dream job, it’s time to consider how you’ll get there. Are traditional forms of training the best route, or could other areas be more beneficial? Internships can offer relevant working experience, while networking and other life experiences can have a significant impact in ways you may not have considered. Think through all of your experiences so far: what path best suits your learning style, and what areas of experience or expertise do you already have that could give you an advantage?

4. Confidence is key

Feeling confident in yourself is, arguably, one of the most important steps. Who knows you – your skills, your qualifications, your relevant experiences, your passion – better than you? Understanding your worth and abilities can give you a huge advantage.

But if this is an area you struggle with, working with a confidence coach can help you learn how to best present yourself, as well as changing how you think about yourself. This can help you to feel more prepared, as well as to improve on your nonverbal communication.

Really try to imagine those feelings, that you already have this dream job. This will help you believe it’s possible

Career coach Felicity shares one of the techniques she uses to help clients. “A simple tip is to become more aware of your posture, and make some simple adjustments if necessary. Try this: slump down in a chair, eyes down, and mumble ‘I’m looking for my dream job.’ How much energy does this approach produce? Probably not much.

“Now, bring your attention into your body. Sit up straight with your feet connected to the floor. Feel your head floating gently up, as if a golden thread is gently pulling your head up towards the ceiling. Then smile. How do you feel now? You may find this simple adjustment helps put you into a more confident state of mind, and you can practise and tweak this until the feeling becomes more familiar.”

Felicity explains that working on your posture, and even something as simple as smiling before an interview or searching for a job, can make a noticeable difference to how you feel about yourself – and a confident posture can encourage others to respond to you in a positive way, too.

5. Ask: what do I have to offer?

When we’re thinking about our dreams, it’s easy to focus on what we want – but, frankly, why should a company care about our goals? Why should they invest their time and energy into you?

Whether your dream job involves working for someone else, or creating your own business, you still are looking to do a similar thing. You’re looking for someone (be it a manager or a client) to pay you to solve a specific problem, or fill a specific need. Why are you the best person to do that? What can you offer that others can’t?

6. Set your sights high (but don’t get caught in the fantasy)

A dream job may be everything you’ve ever wanted it to be, but it’s important to remember that no job is perfect. It could be a colleague you don’t quite gel with, hours that aren’t quite what you expected, a lower salary than you’d hoped for – big or small, it’s a fact of life: we rarely (if ever) find a perfect fit. Ensuring you don’t get bogged down in the little details and minor downsides is key. You can weigh up the pros and cons, but avoid the trap of setting the unreachable goal. Reality may have a tough time standing up to the impossible dream.

7. Do your research

If you think you’ve found your dream job, take time to look closer at the company who you could be working for. Do a little research, and don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager about company culture, how they like working there, and how long they’ve been there. Doing some extra research online, on sites like Glassdoor and social media, can give you an insight into why employees may have left in the past, get to know the company’s public face a little better, and get a feel for if you think they could be a good fit for you.

8. Focus on quality over quantity

Job hunting can be stressful at the best of times – let alone when you’re aiming high! We all know the drill – take time to craft personalised, relevant, covering letters, tweak your CV to fit the job description, and triple-check for any errors, before sending in your application. By focusing on sending out fewer applications, but higher quality ones, you can ensure each one is getting your full attention – more haste, less speed, and all that jazz. The more you try to hurry, or cram in just one more application, the more stressed you are likely to feel – and the more likely you are to make mistakes. A couple of errors here and there may not be the end of the world, but when you’re aiming for your dream job, why risk showing anything but your best?

Felicity Dwyer is a career change and transition coach, helping people to find clarity, confidence, and a sense of direction in their career, through her coaching practice, The Heart of Work.

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