Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.
Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here.
10 Tips for Finding Your Ideal Job
It’s perfectly natural to take some time before you are able to decide what field you want to work in. But sometimes you might become tired of thinking to yourself, “I don’t know what job I want.” Remember, finding your ideal career is a long and complicated process. Most people end up trying out many different careers and seeing how they take to them.
Even though the process can take its own form for every individual person who embarks on it, it’s still a good idea to develop a roadmap to help you along. This article provides just that – ten steps to help guide you through the entire process of finding your dream job. Remember, you should use this article as a general guide, and adapt it to suit your needs and wants. Let’s get into it:
1. Make a list of overarching goals for your career
One of the best places to start in deciding on a career is to sit down and do some self-reflection. Decide what you want to get out of your professional life. You should try to encompass as many spheres of your work life as possible on this list. Those could include:
- What kind of mission do you want your company or organization to have?
- Do you want to work as part of a team or on your own?
- What kind of work-life balance do you want?
- Do you enjoy working with your hands?
- Would you like to work with numbers intensively?
- Do you want to work as part of a company to create a great product, or as part of an organization that champions a cause?
- How much do you want to read at your job?
- Are you looking for an intellectually stimulating job?
- Do you enjoy working with children?
- How important is money to you?
- Do you like interacting with your clients and people you are helping?
- Are you looking for a job with lots of travel?
These questions should help give you an introductory idea of what you are looking for in a job. They address both what your daily work experience will be and what the overarching mission of your work will be. So, you’ll be able to find a position that satisfies you in your day-to-day, and one that makes you feel proud of the overall scope of your work.
2. Assess your financial needs
Although everyone has a dream job out there, some jobs pay significantly less than other jobs. And in fields like entertainment, you are often making no money at all until you hit it big and end up making good money. So, as a pragmatic measure, it’s good to start out by assessing your financial needs. Determine how much money you need to live in your current situation. This can depend on the cost of living in your city or town, the amount of student debt you have, and the amount of support you may need to send to your family.
Try to draft up a monthly budget to show what your expenses will be. Then, you can check on Glassdoor and Indeed to investigate some job listings that are similar to your interests and experience level. You can gauge from that whether your current prospects could support you financially.
If they cannot support you financially, don’t lose hope. There’s always a way to work around this. For example, you might be able to take a part-time job in the field that you’re interested in, and supplement your income with a part-time job in a more profitable field. The long-term hope is that, as you gain experience in the field that interests you, you will eventually land a position that can pay all of your expenses.
3. Read job descriptions
Reading job descriptions is a great way to get a picture of the reality of a job. For example, let’s say you’re interested in show business. You find a position as a secretary at a talent agency, and it intrigues you. However, upon reading the job description, you might find out that the job does not differ significantly from other secretary positions. This might be a good indicator that you want to find something more directly involved in show business, such as working as a production assistant.
You might also find that a job with a seemingly uninteresting title actually has a lot of responsibilities that interest you. If you are a person who loves to organize information and collect data, you might find a marketing position that you didn’t even know existed, but that caters perfectly to your strengths and interests.
4. Take less-desired jobs to get experience
Everyone wants to find their dream job and land it right away. But for the vast majority of people, this is not a possibility. Most desirable jobs take a considerable amount of experience to obtain. There is a good chance that you’ll have to work some jobs that are not as perfect of a fit. Remember, this is normal, and taking a job that you aren’t as excited about doesn’t mean that you’ll never land your dream job.
In fact, the more you work, the better of a chance you have to land whatever job you want. Just remember – it’s a good idea to try to fit every job you take into a long-term plan to eventually find your dream job. As you look at the job description, try to find how you can use the experience you’ll gain at this job on your resume. Find overlap in the skills at your current position and the one that you want to obtain. This is the best way to stay on-track as you work towards the position you’ve always wanted.
5. Talk to people about their careers
What better way is there to find out what it’s like to work a job than to talk to someone who holds the position? If you’re interested in a specific line of work, it’s always a good idea to seek out some people who have held those positions and hear what they have to say about them. You might find that the reality of an industry is very different from the way it’s portrayed in popular media.
Although this method of inquiry is very effective and valuable, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Everyone has their own opinion of their work, and these opinions will always vary. Some people’s opinions of their jobs even change week-by-week, and if you catch someone on a grumpy day, they may make their job out to be very unpleasant, when really, in the long-run, they enjoy it.
So, it’s a good idea to try to get opinions from a large collection of people for each job that interests you. The more diverse a field of opinions that you get, the better. You’ll be exposed to a wider range of thoughts, and in this way, you’ll be able to make a better-informed opinion.
6. Talk to friends and family
Another great way to land your ideal job is to talk to your friends and family. This can have many benefits. Your friends and family are the people who know you best. They can offer insight about yourself that even you may not have picked up on. They can tell you what you’re good at, and what they notice that you like to do. This information can be helpful to determine your strengths to brag about on job applications and in interviews. They can also help you uncover jobs that you may not have even known would be a good fit.
Friends and family can also help you make connections to land a job. It is friends and family who are always looking out for us, and will use their resources to help us through life. Don’t miss out on these opportunities; perhaps your uncle can offer you your first internship at his small business, or your friend’s mom needs an assistant at her real estate agency next summer. These sorts of opportunities are how many people get their start, so that once their dream job rolls along, they are qualified to land the position.
7. Check who’s hiring
Finding an ideal job is always a careful balance between your own personal career goals and the state of the industry and economy around you. It’s a good idea to investigate the state of your career field to see what your chances are of getting a job. Looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great first step. They show projected growth or decline of each industry over the next decade, determining whether there will be more or less jobs available.
If you find that your industry is shrinking, don’t throw in the towel just yet. All that means is that it is becoming harder to find a job in the field. You’ll have to be more strategic about it to find your dream job. You may have to take a few jobs you are less excited about in order to get qualifications for your dream job. But that doesn’t mean you’ll never get it, and definitely doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream.
Also see: What are the fastest growing careers?
8. Land internships
When choosing between applicants, employers typically look at three specific factors. Those are: education, experience, and character. As you grow older, experience and character become increasingly important factors in their decisions. Internships are a great way to demonstrate both experience and character. They show that you have applied your education to real-world experiences and showed ambition to learn about the industry. What’s more, they give you opportunities for anecdotes to tell during your job interview which demonstrate character.
As you land internships, make sure to keep a journal of the notable experiences you have there and the things you learn. That way, you will be able to optimally leverage your experiences to land further opportunities down the road. And remember, the more you work, the easier it becomes to find jobs and internships. So even if that first internship isn’t exactly what you want to be doing, you can rest assured that you are picking up valuable work experience which future employers will value.
9. Don’t forget to network
Networking can be a tough skill for some, but it’s one of the most important “secret weapons” in terms of career building. Building a network of people who hold authority in your field of interest is invaluable for finding the job you want. This can take many forms. If you’re in college, or a college graduate, it’s a good idea to get plugged into alumni networks. Oftentimes, your school has formalized offices that help you do this.
Another great resource is LinkedIn. Using this site, you can find professionals in your field and reach out to them for mentorship or other advice. You might even end up landing a job with one of the strangers you reach out to! Make sure to build your LinkedIn account early; the more you use it, the more useful it becomes.
10. Make lots of lists!
List-making is your friend when it comes to finding your dream job. Make lists of pros and cons for each field, and as you try out different career paths, write down your impressions. That way, as you make future choices, you can remember what you liked about each field and what you didn’t like. Hopefully, you can use this information to end up at the perfect job for you.
So, the process for finding your dream job is a combination of self-reflection, consulting friends and family, networking, and earning work experience wherever you can find it. Remember, it takes most people many years to land their dream job. Just keep your head on your shoulders and remember your long-term goals as you go along. This way, you’ll always be moving towards the goal of your dream job. Good luck!