We hear it all the time: “find your passion” or “do what you love and the money will follow.” It sounds so easy, right? But if it was, we would all be passionate about our work. And we know from statistics year after year that many of us do not feel that way, or even remotely close — only 19% are satisfied according to Forbes.com.
There are many reasons people fall short of having a job they love. Common reasons include mental blocks, fears, or simply not knowing what that dream is in the first place — many things can get in the way of us identifying what we would love to do and understanding how to make it a reality. What often happens is that we get the advice to do what we love without practical, tangible steps towards how to determine what that is and how to make it come true.
Here are some preliminary steps you must take in order to define that direction and move forward, understanding that practical considerations may well prevent you from having that exact dream job you want. But more often than not, you can actually get closer than you think to the dream.
1) Identify the right fit first. Many people come to career coaching saying, “I want to update my resume.” Then, when asked what kind of job they are looking for, they say “I don’t know.” When conducting a job search, you must be focused and clear about your end goal. You need to know, as specifically as possible, what type of job within what industry you want. Even better, which companies would be the right fit for you.
Do this exercise: Make a list of the things you want to have in a job, based on past experiences (work, volunteering, even school). What have you have liked in those past experiences? Determine what you want going forward. What have you disliked? This is the beginning of a “Gotta Have” list, the things you know you must have in that next or ideal job. It can be anything from the right work environment, to your boss’s management style, to tasks you perform on a daily basis.
2) Determine the job requirements. What are the specific actions you need to take to hone your skills to land that job? What skills are needed? What experience or education would make you the most marketable and qualified for this type of position? Do not just take a class or obtain the skills without knowing how they will help you land that ideal job.
Find out which skills you need to obtain, and how they will improve your chances by 1) conducting informational interviews with people in the industry and 2) looking at the LinkedIn profiles of those in the field/role you want to be in. Look at the skills they have and find the themes across their profiles. Then, find the optimal option to gain those skills. Is it through volunteer work, freelance work, free online courses on sites coursera.org, or do you need to pay for a one-time class at a local community college or adult education program?
3) Finally, ask yourself these 4 questions to help you determine that right fit:
b. Ask friends/family members/former coworkers, “What do I do better than anyone else you know?” (To determine your best/most valuable professional skills.)
c. How do I define success? (This can help you determine what’s most fulfilling and rewarding for you and add to your list of criteria for a job, per above.)
d. What assumptions are you making about your dream job or ideas do you have about it? Learn more about the dangers of that in this video.