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Naomi Rothwell-Boyd, May 24 2022

No Such Thing As A Dream Job: 5 Steps To Find The Best Job

The illusive career path to find your dream job.

It's something that a lot of people think about when they're starting their careers. They imagine themselves in a perfect situation, doing work they love and making great money. But is the dream job really a dream come true? Or is it just a fantasy that can never be realised?

In this article, we'll explore the idea of the dream job and show you how to find the best job for you right now. Follow these five steps and you'll be on your way to career happiness!

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The side effects of obsessing over dream jobs

While it feels reassuring to think there might be one single answer to all your career trouble wrapped up on one neat job, it's rare things happen that way.

As a career coach I've heard from thousands of people who think this way and it affects how they think about career planning and expectations, often not in a good way.

Here are some of the side effects of dream job thinking:

No Such Thing As A Dream Job

There's a theme that runs through these side effects. The idea of the "dream job" is that it ticks every box. I can tell you from my experience dealing with a cross section of thousands of people - there is no job out there that ticks every single box.

Some jobs may tick 95% of your boxes, or even all but one, but they never tick all. And that's absolutely fine! That's normal! You need to focus on finding the right career for you, rather than waiting around for the "dream" job to come along.

This is why I believe dream job is a misnomer. Really what most people mean is "the best job, right now, for me personally."

While it's not as catchy, it's actually a far better descriptor and a worthy goal to work towards. Really, this is "The Ideal Job."

The Ideal Job allows for at least a little bit of compromise in your career choices. This is a far healthier way to see your career.

The Ideal Job - A healthier outlook for career planning

It's far better to look for the job that ticks most of your boxes, not all. Here are some examples of the types of boxes an ideal job might tick:

It's far more likely you'll find a job that ticks most, but not all, of these boxes.

Remember, you can always strive to make improvements in your career over time. If you're not happy with your current situation, look for ways to make small changes that will improve your work life. And if you're really unhappy, it's always ok to look for a new job!

So don't get hung up on the idea of the dream job. It's not realistic and it's not healthy. Instead, focus on finding the best job for you right now.

How to find the best job for you right now

Here are five steps to help you find the best job for you right now:

1) Identify your core values. 
2) Assess your skills and interests. 
3) Rank your personal needs & priorities.
4) Research different types of jobs. 
5) Network with the right people.
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1) Identify Your Core Values

Core values are like your personal principles, they're your personal rules that dictate how you like to live your life. They also influence what you expect from those around you, and therefore impact how you feel about your work, colleagues and team culture where you operate.

Someone who knows that one of their core values is, for example, fairness, would feel confident avoiding an industry that treats people unfairly even though they have relevant skills for that industry and would be paid highly. They would still be able to sleep better at night and wouldn’t waste years going into the wrong industry. 

Figuring out your possible values

Ask yourself questions like:

Thinking about how you want the perfect you to behave is a good place to start. What does that ideal you look like? Note the behaviours themselves as potential values. For example, do you always want to be respectful? Perhaps funny? Inspiring?

Consider how you like to be treated. What you want from other people often indicates your expectations, and our expectations are ultimately derived from our values. If you expect to be treated fairly, then perhaps fairness might be a value to you.

Also consider the opposite - what don't you like in people? Behaviour you find distasteful is a strong indicator of your values as they will usually be complete opposites.

And ask yourself why your closest friends are your closest friends. What about them attracts you to them? They likely exhibit the traits and therefore shared values you want to be around.

Questions like these will help to pick out certain traits that you prefer which could indicate your core values. These core values then act as your north star for decision making.

2) Assess your skills and interests

It's worth noting your main work interests. I don't mean "passions" as it's not good advice to always chase your passions for work - it's perfectly fine to have different passions in your personal life to your work life.

Think about what you find intellectual stimulating about work. What topics do you like to read about in your spare time that are work-related? What trends, articles and discussions keep you interested? These can be a good indicator for the types of roles and career paths might interest you.

You should also consider what skills and experience you have to leverage straight away. Skills are strengths that you've developed through experience, learning or practice - they're things that come naturally to you or that you've gotten good at over time.

You might have a skill for quickly understanding complex problems, or for being able to maintain calm under pressure - these are things that would be attractive to a potential employer and give you an edge in certain roles when applying for a new job.

It also helps to focus more on your transferable skills, rather than pure vocational skills. Vocationally specific skills are those that are only applicable to a certain industry or job - for example, if you're a web developer, you might have skills in React or HTML. These skills can make it harder to switch careers as they're not easily transferable to other industries or roles.

On the other hand, transferable skills are those that can be applied in a range of industries or roles - for example, problem solving, teamwork, or adaptability. These skills are much more valuable as they make you more employable in general and give you the ability to switch careers more easily if you need or want to.

Once you've considered your skills and interests to help inform your future job search, you also need to consider your non-negotiable needs.

3) Rank your personal needs & priorities

Step three is all about setting up your decision making for success. But before you rank you needs, you first need to figure out what your needs are!

This can be done by asking yourself a series of questions that help uncover what you need most in a career. Do you need more money, more time, more responsibility? Do you need to feel challenged or do you prefer stability?

Hopefully one or two are fairly obvious already and are part of what's driving you to look for a new career path and more job satisfaction. But noting down more than one or two is harder but essential. 

You don't only have one or two priorities - everyone has many competing priorities that then need ranking. These priorities and ideas are different depending on whether you're in your 20s, 30s or 40s, whether you have kids etc. and they influence how you transition into something better.

Different types of needs

Common things people need from a career are more money, more responsibility, new skills, better work/life balance, shorter commute, job satisfaction and so on. Maybe it could be returning to education and getting a new degree or trying online courses to help change careers. 

But it's not just about having things - people often need to avoid certain situations as well.

For example; you might want to avoid a career that involves too much travel if you have young children at home. You might want to avoid working in an industry that is under threat or in decline like your current career.

And it's not just about work either - your needs might be non-work related. For instance; you might need to live closer to family, you might want to move to a sunnier climate or you might wish to pursue a hobby full time.

Remember, your needs are entirely unique to you so make sure you spend some time thinking about what they are.

Ranking your priorities

Now that you have a good list of potential priorities, it's time to start ranking them.

Remember, we're looking for a significant difference that will have a big impact on your life.

That means, your top priority should be something that would make the biggest difference to your happiness and satisfaction. It might not be the easiest thing to achieve but it should be the most important.

For example, if you're looking for a complete change of scenery, a move to another country might be your top priority. If you're looking for a big change at work, a promotion or starting your own business might be what you need.

Of course, some priorities will be easier to achieve than others and some may not be possible at all. That's fine - just make sure the ones you do choose are ones that would have the biggest impact on your life and make you the happiest.

4) Research different types of jobs

It's important not to limit your thinking when considering new directions for a career change. Your research doesn't have to be directly tied to your current job. Your search needs to start from scratch to maximise the chances that you discover some exciting new options.

Here are some ideas to get your research started:

The most important thing is to keep an open mind and be willing to consider anything and everything. You never know where your next job might be hiding.

5) Network with the right people

I want to address this separately as I think it's a vital part of research, probably the most valuable part.

Your network is a group of people you know and who know you. It's made up of your friends, family, colleagues, classmates and so on. And it's an incredibly valuable resource when making a career change.

The reason networking is so important is because the vast majority of jobs are never advertised. They're filled through word-of-mouth, typically by someone in your network.

So, if you're serious about making a career change, you need to start growing your network. Here are some ideas:

The more people you know, the more likely it is that you'll hear about an exciting new opportunity.

It's also worth mentioning that networking isn't just about finding a job - it's also about getting advice and guidance from people who have been there and done it. This is what I mean by "the right people." Don't go spamming your online networks, make a concerted effort to build new valuable connections.

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Conclusion - Making the change

Making a career change can be a big decision and it's not something you should take lightly. But if you're unhappy in your current role, or you're simply ready for something new, then it could be the best decision you ever make.

Just remember to do your research, set your priorities and network with the right people and you'll be well on your way to finding the best new job for you.

Don't let perfect be the enemy of great - focus on the best you can do given the circumstances, and perhaps have a multi step plan to work your way towards your dreams. Don't wait for your dreams to come to you, go make them happen!

If you ever want more help from me with your career, then make sure to submit an enquiry about career coaching here.

Written by

Naomi Rothwell-Boyd

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