Finding your dream job

Deciding what it is you want to spend your working life doing is often more easily said than done. If you haven’t had a clear path in mind your whole life, or if your current job isn’t providing the challenge and enjoyment you’re looking for, it can leave you feeling lost. Rather than plucking one of hundreds of jobs out of the blue, use these tips to get closer to finding a fulfilling career that makes you happy.

Establish what you’re good at and what you want to do

Ask the people close to you what they think your best skills are, and what they could see you doing? What did your family imagine you’d end up doing when you were younger? Establish not only what you’re good at, but what you enjoy being good at - what skills are you most proud of?

Think about what you want to get out of work other than your day to day activity. Would a job that requires quite a commute but reaps a great deal of financial reward make you happier than a job that was really close to home? Are you looking to move up the ladder quickly or are you more comfortable getting really good at something before you move on to the next challenge?

Make a list of different careers you’ve been interested in, and jobs that have appealed to you. Then list every job you’ve ever had, what you enjoyed most about each of them and what you learned from them. Now look at where the lists cross over, and what skills are transferable from one to the other.

Answering these questions should start to point you in the direction of a job that interests you.

Talk to people

Who do you know who enjoys their job? When your friends and family talk about their career, has anything appealed to you about their day to day life?

Most people who love what they do are more than willing to have a chat about it. Ask them what the best and worst aspects are, how they got into it and whether or not they think it might be a good fit for you.

When something seems out of reach, work backwards. Ask people what they did before their current role, and the one before that, and the one before that. Ask if they think their path was the best one and if they would have done anything differently. Starting in an entry level role is a lot less daunting when you know where you’re heading.

When you’ve identified the type of role you want that is aligned with your strengths, skills and passions, you need to find the industry and the company in which you want to work.

What industries do you like and what field would you be proud to say you have worked in? What companies have you had good experiences with and why they were rewarding? Aside from finding the right job, it is also important to work for a business that is aligned to your values and ethics. Trust your intuition when thinking about what company you want to walk into every morning.

It can be extremely helpful to find a mentor; someone you trust and admire with real life experience that is willing to support and guide you. Look at people who you consider successful and content, and ask if they if you could talk to them about your career development path. If you find the conversation helpful, ask if you could perhaps make these conversations a fairly regular occurrence.

Mentors can make you feel empowered and can help to keep you on track if you ever feel discouraged. A different perspective can be useful and reassuring.

Try before you apply

The older we get, the more we all start to realise that nothing is ever quite what it seems. If a job seems of interest to you, it’s always good to get a clear idea of what it entails before you start the necessary steps to apply. Research the company and get in touch with them. Ask if you’re able to do some work experience, shadow someone for a day, or even just talk to someone who works there to get a better idea of the role. Not only could this avoid you applying for something that isn’t right for you, but it may give you an insight into other areas of that company that may be a better fit.

It’s also a good idea to research what qualifications are required for each role and start to put the wheels in motion. Employers may accept your application if you’re in the process of completing the necessary credentials, and it may give you a taster of what the job will involve.

Get ahead of the game

So you think you know what the next step is for you, and you’ve found a company that you feel you’d enjoy working for… but there are no jobs available; so what next?

You don’t need to sit around and continue pressing the ‘refresh’ button on the careers page. Be proactive and get in touch with the companies you’d like to be a part of.

If you’re thinking of working for a smaller, company, send them your CV with a cover letting stating why you’d like to work there and ask them to kindly keep you in mind for anything that comes up in the future. Follow this up a few days later with a phone call, reinforcing your interest and enthusiasm, and demonstrating your hands on and determined approach.

Many companies now have talent networks where you can register your details, and they can then get in touch with you when suitable positons become available.

LinkedIn is another great way to get your name out there and connect with people who may be able to point you in the right direction or offer advice.

Don’t get disheartened

There is no such thing as a wasted or pointless experience. Turning each challenge into a lesson is a vital tool in moving forward. Ask yourself what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what you’ll do differently next time.

Nobody has mastered the art of a flawless step by step guide to happiness. It’s important to remember that most people face several hurdles and challenges before they find their perfect career.

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