Finding your dream job might seem like a fantasy. However, with the right strategy and a little soul searching, you could land the opportunity of a lifetime.
Whether you're a recent college graduate or an experienced worker contemplating a mid-career shift, you can take steps to set yourself up for success. Here are five practical pieces of advice for finding your dream job.
Identify your ideal situation
Landing a dream job isn't just about getting a good paycheck. You also have to find a company that harmonizes with your personality, values and needs.
Think back to previous jobs you've held and consider why some of those positions didn't work for you. For example, the jobs might have demanded too much from you or required weekend work, which took time away from family and friends.
It's important to consider not only "what" you want to do but also "how" you want to do it, said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs, a service for people seeking part-time, telecommuting or freelance work.
"A dream job can turn into a nightmare if the employer expects so much from you that the job starts to conflict with your personal life," said Reynolds. "So, when you're seeking your dream job, also be on the lookout for your dream company and dream work situation."
Take an assessment test
A job can be so much more than a means to pay the bills, but only if your career motivates you and brings satisfaction. To that end, you won't find your dream career until you figure out what you're passionate about.
Determining the right career path can start with taking a free online career assessment test. You'll answer a series of questions related to your interests, work style, personality and values. Based on your responses, the test will identify careers that might suit you.
Follow instructions when applying for jobs
Something as minor as not following directions could prevent you from getting your dream job. So, when searching for a job, read ads thoroughly before submitting a resume or application.
Hiring managers might include specific instructions for applying or ask applicants to submit crucial pieces of information with their resumes. And, unfortunately, failure to follow directions could send your resume to the bottom of the pile. If you can't follow instructions on simple matters, employers might assume you won't be able to do so on the job, either.
Schedule a mock interview with an industry expert
You might have excellent responses to common interview questions like, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" However, many job seekers struggle to answer questions that are more industry specific. These questions are harder to anticipate, but reaching out to industry experts in your inner circle or on LinkedIn can help you prepare for interviews.
"Practice interviews with industry experts is the key to success here, as it gives candidates better insight on how to answer tricky behavioral-based interview questions," said Ujwal Surampalli of Interview Buddy, a company that offers online face-to-face mock interviews with industry experts in a stress-free environment. "Expert-driven mock interview sessions also help the candidate get professional feedback and tips to work on his/her weaker areas, which results in a tremendous boost of confidence."
Create your dream job
If you know what you want but can't track down relevant opportunities, don't settle for a job you are likely to loathe. Instead, create your own dream job, said Virginia Chavez, a publicist with Surge Public Relations, which specializes in business communications.
"What I discovered early in my career working in Silicon Valley was that if you want the perfect job, you have to create it," she said. "Whether you're working for someone else or for yourself, be creative with the possibilities. Take the initiative and articulate what you can do, when you can do it, then do it."
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