We all devote a significant portion of our lives to work, and what we do for a living can influence all other areas of our lives in various ways. Knowing this, it’s important that you take time to reflect and decide on a career path that is fulfilling as well as financially rewarding. If you’re wondering how to find your dream job and set yourself up for success, read on.
This guide was designed to help you find your dream career. In it, we discuss common questions you may be asking yourself, the steps you can follow to gain clarity about the best career tracks you could pursue, and some top tips to help you find a job you love. Let’s dive in.
What Do I Do if I Don’t Know What Career I Want?
If you don’t know what career is right for you, know that you’re not alone. Many people struggle to discover the right path and end up exploring many different options before finding the one that works for them.
Some things you can do if you don’t know what career you want include taking career assessment tests, researching different jobs and industries, and talking to professionals in different areas to learn about their experience. This will help you gain a broader understanding of the options available to you.
Five Steps to Find Your Dream Job
Step One: Identify Your Strengths and Interests
To find your dream job, start looking for leads in your personal interests. In many cases, there is a stable pattern of things you find fascinating that goes all the way back to your childhood. If you’ve always loved playing with Legos and assembling objects or buildings, this could point toward engineering. Many world-class programmers got their start tinkering with the source code for their favorite games.
In addition, take stock of your strengths. Are you good at solving puzzles? Do you have strong social skills? Can you dive into a coding project and stay focused and engaged? The things you’re naturally good at can point you in the right direction. A combination of natural talent and interest means that you can cultivate both and build a fulfilling career around them.
Step Two: Reflect on Your Background
Another option that can help you find your dream job is assessing the things you’ve done in the past and that you’ve enjoyed. Perhaps you did an internship or had a previous job where you excelled, or went to a coding summer camp where you felt excited about what you were learning. Perhaps you always felt engaged during one of your high school or college classes. Or maybe you had a volunteering experience that was especially meaningful.
The things in your past that you enjoyed and you were good at can help you decipher your career path moving forward. And remember, these don’t always have to be work-related. What matters is that you look at your background with curiosity and a fresh perspective, as this will give you clues on how to move forward.
Step Three: Research Career Fields
Once you have mapped out your interests, talents, and past experiences, it’s time to research potential career fields. Think in broad terms first. For instance, if you’ve discovered that a job in tech could be an option, take a look at what big tech companies around the world are doing and looking for, such as Microsoft, Google, or Apple.
If social or humanitarian work is fulfilling for you, look into non-profits around the world. Consider the type of work they do and the type of professionals they hire. As you explore different career fields, try to find links between them and your own strengths to identify potential job opportunities.
Step Four: Identify Specific Job Titles that Interest You
Once you’ve explored a broad range of fields, it’s time to dive into specifics. Select a few organizations and check their “About” or “Team” pages. This can give you an idea of the types of professionals they hire, as well as the credentials that helped these professionals land those positions.
In addition, start looking at open positions listed on various company websites to see what opportunities are available, as well as the requirements laid out for different positions. You can also use job boards such as LinkedIn to find opportunities. This will help you see what those roles are responsible for, as well as any educational or experience gaps you may need to fill.
Step Five: Set Short and Long-Term Goals
Once you’ve gotten clear on the field you want to work in, and have identified opportunities that you’re interested in, take time to set some short and long-term goals to help you stay on track. Think about where you want to be in the next year, five years, and 10 years. What does your life look like if you’re able to reach your dreams?
Once you’ve laid out your goals, work your way backward and figure out what steps you need to take to turn those goals into a reality. Don’t worry about having a perfect plan. What’s important is that you gain clarity on the steps you need to take, so you can go back to that map when the going gets tough.
How Do I Know if a Career Is the Right Fit?
If you’re still struggling to figure out what job suits you after going through the process above, don’t panic. Remember that this is a long process and many things might change along the way. Still, there are a few things you can do to help you figure out if a career you’re considering will be the right fit for you.
- Take a free online course. Taking an online course can be a great way to determine whether a field is right for you without having to make a big investment. If you find yourself passionately going through the course materials and fully engaged in online sessions, this is a clear sign that this field is a good option.
- Talk to someone with experience in the field. Try reaching out to someone in your network that has worked in the field and ask them questions about their job. This can be a great way to learn about the opportunities and challenges of a given field.
- Join forums and online communities. If no one in your network can help, you can join forums, Facebook groups, and other communities, and ask questions there. People are usually eager to help guide others and share their experiences in the field they love.
- Find DIY projects in your area. Nothing beats a bit of hands-on experience to help you figure out if a career is right for you. Find beginner projects that you can complete on your own. This will help you figure out whether you actually enjoy doing the work.
- Volunteer or do an internship. Volunteering and internships can also give you a sense of what the day-to-day looks like in a given field without having to make a long-term commitment. Try to find opportunities in your local area and get some practical experience.
Important Tips to Remember While Finding Your Dream Job
When you’re on the path to finding a job you love, there are a few things you can keep in mind to help you along the way. Keep reading to see our top tips for anyone looking to find a perfect job opportunity.
Competence Can Breed Passion
While our passions and interests can point us in the right direction, know that passion can also grow out of becoming competent at something. Computer scientist and philosopher of work Cal Newport has made a career out of studying this phenomenon. He goes as far as to say that ‘following your passion’ is terrible advice, and instead we should just focus on getting good at whatever it is that we’re doing.
In the long run, it is competence, not passion, that can help you move through blocks and challenges. Practice, dedication, and continuous learning can go a long way in helping you stay engaged with your career, regardless of the path you choose.
Follow Your Own Timeline
We all move through life at different speeds and reach milestones at different times. Whether you’re about to graduate high school or you’re considering a career change at 50, know that uncertainty about your dream career can crop up at any time, and that’s not a bad thing.
Comparison is the thief of joy. So don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, focus on following your own passions and intuition. Keep learning new things, and don’t be afraid to pivot when you feel it’s time for a change. Some people may stay on a single career path their entire lives. Others may move through different fields several times throughout their adult life. Don’t be afraid of either, and make sure to follow your own timeline.
Don’t Dismiss the Value of Hobbies
Remember that life is not just about your career. While it’s good to focus on the activity that you make a living out of, remember to incorporate other activities into your life and pursue them simply because they bring you joy and fulfillment.
And remember, not all hobbies need to be monetized. If photography, painting, or making music are things that you enjoy doing without wanting to make a career out of them, that’s perfectly fine.
How to Find a Job That Makes You Happy
To find a job that makes you happy, do your best to identify the things that you’re passionate about, your innate talents, and the things that bring fulfillment to your life. How you find your dream job will also depend on your past experiences, so make sure to take stock of the things you’ve enjoyed doing in the past to find helpful clues.
Finally, make sure to enjoy the journey. If you’re trying to figure out your dream career, enjoy the process of researching different opportunities. If you need to pursue a degree or some form of training, have fun with it and enjoy expanding your skillset. This will help you find fulfillment throughout your professional life.
How to Find Your Dream Job FAQ
A career path is the sequence of jobs and roles a person holds throughout their professional life. A career path can include promotions, taking on different responsibilities, and even shifting into different fields or industries.
One of the least effective strategies for finding a job you will enjoy is basing your decision solely on the salary or benefits. While monetary compensation is important, it should not be the only factor you consider. You should also take into account your interests, skills, and life values when you decide on a career path.
Some of the best work-life balance jobs include digital marketing manager, software developer, and management analyst. Jobs that can be completed remotely usually offer a good work-life balance and are available in a wide variety of industries.
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A dream job can mean different things to different people and ultimately depends on your passions, interests, and goals. However, some dream job ideas include becoming a chef, a professional athlete, a travel writer, a game developer, or a national park ranger.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.