Maybe I’m Captain Obvious here with this message, “You should work at your dream job.”
But I feel that I need to continue to share this (or at least remind you): Some people actually love waking up in the morning and going to work. Do you believe that?
They can’t wait to go to the office and enter the door with a wide smile on their face. Work is their favorite part of the day!
And I want that to describe how you feel. Because you deserve to enjoy your work, you truly do.
I know I love working and my life has never been better because it positively affects the other areas of my life.
Plus, you only live once and so there’s no logical sense to waste time at a job where you could support yourself or others at another job you enjoying. That’s no way to spend your limited time on this earth.
If you’re stuck in a job that makes you depressed, you need a reminder every once in awhile that work can be, and is meant to be, fun. You were designed to work and get a sense of satisfaction more than a paycheck.
If you’re in a bad job, it’s easy to generalize all work as boring, miserable, and trading 45 hours of misery for a decent at best paycheck. I understand how that can feel.
Though that’s not how it has to be. Because I know you have passions. And I know you have what it takes to align your passions with your job.
It may be scary or difficult to transition to your dream job, but it won’t be after you go through the five steps I laid out below.
5 Steps To Land Your Dream Job
1. Know Your Dream Job
Before you get busy networking or updating your resume, the first and foremost step is to know your dream job. You can’t know what to do until you know your destination.
This is where self-awareness is big. Because when you know your passions and desires about your work, matching it with a job is much easier.
But if you’re not self aware, that’s okay, just start reflecting on what it is precisely that you like and dislike.
I’ve come up with a list to get you started down this thought process:
- What do you want most in a job (meaningful work, company culture, responsibility, salary, benefits, interesting coworkers, or something else)?
- Are you an introvert who enjoys working by yourself, or an extrovert who needs a bunch of human interaction at work?
- How important is the job location to your decision?
- How high of a salary would you feel great about? And what’s the bare minimum salary you could accept?
For help with that last question, I’m convinced you need to pick passion over the money a job pays. Honestly, I’d rather make $50,000 doing what I love than $300,000 slaving away at a job that’s stealing my joy for life. That’s the attitude you must have to get your dream job.
And since money follows passion, you’re most likely going to make more money in the long run doing what you love than being a hired hand for someone else’s dream.
Now this is a dream job, not a perfect job. Every type of work is going to have some downside because that’s life. So once you find a job that most aligns with your personality and passions, then you can move on.
2. Understand What It Takes
If it’s a dream job, odds are you can’t just apply today and get it tomorrow. You’re going to need to know what the job requirements are and a strategic plan to go get it.
Breaking down exactly what it is you need to do will also lessen your feeling of being overwhelmed.
So research what you need to. Talk to people educated about how to get this job, like people who currently work in the field, peers, or past professors. And narrow down on a specific list of action steps you need to accomplish to set yourself up for success.
For example, if you want to be a website developer, then decide how you’re going to get the programming skills. If you want to be a graphic designer, make a to-do list to purchase Photoshop and find YouTube videos to practice. If you want to star in commercials, come up with the next steps like getting a professional headshot, video clips, and other resources.
If it were me, I’d make going back to school the last possible option. But if worst comes to worst and you literally need to go back to school to ever get your dream job, then all I’m going to say is you better be sure this is what you want. (And I’d honestly never go back to school to pay money when I could make money.)
Almost every job—besides a technical one like lawyer, doctor, or dentist—can be done without a specific degree if you’re good enough and know the right people.
3. Network Your Butt Off
Most people aren’t willing to go out of their comfort zone to make serious efforts networking. But what they don’t realize is that meeting new people is the secret formula to having connections that can get your name at the top of the new hire list.
When you got friends in high places, they can send one email or phone call and you’re in business to get your dream job. And it’s only through networking you can sometimes skip past the application and interview process altogether to land a job.
Ironically, you need to build a network before you have to rely on them to get your dream job. So get started today. Because if you rush networking and it’s obvious you’re just trying to use someone for your own personal gain, it won’t work.
Be genuine and try to get know people over the long term because you’re simply interested, not for a deceptive short-term gain.
And have you thought of making a networking push through LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter? Recruiters and hiring managers are already on there for their own reasons.
All you have to do is start engaging with them and their content by leaving thoughtful responses. Then once they know you, ask to talk on the phone or meet in person (if they’re local) to discuss the job and your desire for it.
Lastly, you only get better at networking the more you do it and the more people you know. So keep practicing.
4. Build Your Skills
If you’ve followed the plan by now, you’ve identified your specific dream job, you know what you need to do to get it, and you’ve built up your network. Great start!
This fourth step is critical and you can’t miss it: Build your skills.
To get your dream job and succeed in it, you need to be able to produce value in the position.
So even if you do use your network to get the job, you’re going to be a complete embarrassment and failure if you don’t have the skills to perform. And what’s a dream job worth if you’re fired only 12 months in and back to a dead-end job?
Say you want to be a videographer. Do you have the skills to get the job you want? Whether you do or don’t, you absolutely must improve your skills—and more so if you have zero experience in the position you want.
With our videographer example, there are plenty of ways to become more talented. You can (and should since you really want this):
- Take free online courses from Ivy League schools
- Read 10 books on the subject from experts
- Wake up two hours early or stay up two hours later to practice shooting your own videos
- Spend eight hours on both Saturday and Sunday practicing the right way
- Get a videographer mentor (here are different ways to find a videographer)
- Listen to podcasts every time you’re commuting
- Start a YouTube channel to showcase your videos and get constructive criticism
- Offer to do an event or wedding for free to gain practice and referrals
The point is to keep working at it. Put in the daily work to build your skills and eventually it will become a habit that forces you to improve based on sheer repetition and experience.
It won’t happen overnight, but always keep building your skills. Because then you can apply for your dream role with confidence!
5. Apply With Confidence
When you’ve done everything up to this point, the only thing left to do is to confidently communicate who you are, what it is you can do for the employer, and why you’re the best one for the job.
And I say apply with confidence because that’s a key attribute that most people don’t execute when the job is on the line. They’ll say weak phrases like, “I think I can perform,” or, “I believe I will succeed in this role.”
None of that! You put in the work. You did the research. You networked your butt off. You built the skills.
So speak it into existence and say, “I’m convinced I’m the best candidate for the job because of X, Y, and Z.” Or, “Without a doubt, I’m confident I can deliver what you’re looking for,” and then provide a concrete example of why.
The interviewer will pick up on your enthusiasm and energy, and think, “This guy or girl is different. There’s something special about them and I want them on our team.” That’s how you stand out to get the dream job when hundreds of other people want it just as bad.
And why else can you have confidence? Because no matter the result of your initial interviewers, you’re going to continue hustling to network and improve your skills until you land this job.
If you stay hungry, you just need one person to believe in you and hire you to make that dream a reality. That’s it. Just one person to unlock the door to your dream job is all it takes.
Some people go through steps one to five and don’t get the job after applying. Then they’re all depressed with thoughts that it’s over for them.
But if it’s truly your dream job, you’d have to be crazy to give up on it no matter how hard it seems.
This is the work you want to do more than anything else, right? So how can you quit on your life’s passion? That’s nonsense. Stop it.
Keep pushing, climbing, and putting more energy in this pursuit.
To demonstrate the power of sticking with your job search, this out-of-the-box job seeker got fed up with applying to jobs with no luck. So he spent $5,000 on five life-sized cardboard cutouts of him in his underwear and the website to find his video resume, and sent them to the Google office. The video went viral to the tune of millions of views, and his stunt got him an interview with Google, plus other countless companies, where he took a head of marketing position with Zenifits.
The lesson is to never stop striving for the job you want. You never know when you’ll run into the right person, or the person who knows the guy or girl you need to get your dream job. And you also never know when you’ll get the opportunity to communicate or showcase your skills that leads to your dream job.
And I know it will feel that much sweeter when you land your dream job knowing it didn’t come easy or handed to you.