What is your dream job? I don’t mean it as a phony response to a boring job interview question way. I mean, really, what job would you love to go to every day?

If you are lucky, one day, you could get paid for doing something you love. Yes, you could find a dream job.

I remember the times I was looking for a job. I had an idea of the jobs I want and the jobs I felt I could get. Unfortunately, the jobs I wanted and the jobs I got were often not the same. Searching for a job is never an easy process. So, why not only search for your dream job instead. It shouldn’t take any longer to find a job you like than a job you can get.

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Know Your Dream Job

Do you remember the time when you were young, and you had no idea what you wanted to do with your life? If someone asked you what you want to do for a living, you didn’t have an answer (or even an idea).

Sadly, even as adults, many people couldn’t name their dream job. They have been working in a job they either hate or dislike for so long that they don’t even think about their dream job.

So, it’s not weird at all to be thinking, “I have no idea what my dream job would bet” or even “I don’t like my job. I am ready for a career change but don’t know what I really want to do.”

Knowing that you too can have a dream job is a critical first step. But, when you’re itching to change jobs, how do you know what job, career, or profession is right for you? It’s so easy to become cynical in a career or job you don’t like and miss out on a dream job without even knowing it.

So, how can you get started with landing your dream job? And, with all the opportunities available out there, how can you know what long-term career path is right for you?

Here are a few questions you should ask to identify your dream job:

  • What are you interested in?
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What skills do you have?
  • What job do you fantasize about?
  • What job would you take if the pay was not a factor?
  • If you could create your dream job, what would it look like?
  • How does your personality align with your dream job?
  • How do you like to work?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • Do you prefer to work from home?
  • Do you enjoy working outside in nature?
  • What activities do you enjoy so much that you would do them for free?

Focus on what you like, not money or prestige.

Many people miserable in their jobs focused on money, prestige, or both as they built their careers. The problem with that approach is that you are destined for unhappiness if you focus on the wrong things.

If you want a job that makes you happy, consider the following critical question:

What job would you be willing to do even if you didn’t get paid?

Think about it: If you love doing something so much that you are willing to do it even if you don’t get paid, you are on the right track to find your dream job. Try to visualize what the perfect job would look like. How would you spend your days in the job that you want more than anything?

You are going to spend about a third of your life working in a job. Don’t make the same mistake so many other people are making and choose a job based on prestige and money. Most of those people are miserable. You don’t have to follow in their footsteps. Pick a job that truly excites you. Choose a profession that makes you fulfilled. Don’t compromise how you spend a third of your life.

Be real about what you dislike about your current and past jobs.

To work toward finding your dream job, you have to be real about your current and past jobs. The best job for you may be a highly competitive environment. Or, your dream job might be a collaborative work environment. Regardless, you know what you like and what you dislike.

If you want to find the ideal job for you, you have to be realistic about what you disliked about your jobs in the past:

  • How did you feel about the work environment? For some people, working in an indoor work environment is just another version of hell. Others might only want to work outdoors. Thinks about how you felt about your work environment. What would you have liked to change about it?
  • Were you able to work remotely? Did you like it, or would you prefer to work in a busy office?
  • How did you feel about your work duties? Your job may not allow for any autonomy to develop solutions to problems. That may not be a problem if your perfect job comes with a list of possible answers for any possible problem.
  • Did you enjoy working with your coworkers? You might enjoy working on your own to find solutions for problems without input from others. Others might be afraid to come to conclusions without input from other members of the team.
  • What were the most difficult challenges in your previous jobs? Recognize what was hard about your jobs in the past.

Lead with Your Strengths

Just because you can’t name your dream job yet, it doesn’t mean that you are unaware of your strengths. Understanding what you’re good at is a critical step toward finding the perfect job for you.

You can start by making a list of your strengths and skills. If you are stuck, ask your friends, trusted coworkers, and family members for their opinion. It might help to check out a self-analysis resource such as the Myers-Briggs personality test.

Taking an active inventory of what you’re good at and what gets you excited about a job is a powerful way of assessing a career path that will complement your strengths and make you happy.

Of course, you can learn new skills to prepare you for almost any job if you are willing to put in the work and time. But you can simplify your life and avoid frustration if you let your strengths lead you to your dream job.

Allow your interests to guide you to your dream job.

When you allow your skills and interests to guide you, you aren’t forcing yourself into a career that doesn’t really fit your skills and personality.

For example, you might have persuaded yourself (or let others convince you) that you should become a Python software developer, only to find out that you don’t love staring at a monitor for ten hours a day combing through Python code to solve problems. You might actually have a passion for outdoor activities, something like a tour guide for backpackers.

Don’t allow preconceived ideas to stop you from pursuing your dream career. Take some time to think about your strengths. You might be pleasantly surprised by what they tell you.

Identify Required Job Skills

Every job, even dream jobs, have requirements. For example, if you want to become a yoga instructor, research the requirements. Find out the job requirements for yoga instructors. Read job descriptions to learn what employers are looking for.

Consider the following questions about the skills required for your dream job:

  • What skills are required for your dream job?
  • Do you have a realistic understanding of the skills required?
  • Are you willing to put in the time required to obtain the skills required for the job?
  • Are you passionate enough about the job to put in the work required?
  • Do you have a burning desire to acquire the skills required?

Create a Road Map to Acquire the Necessary Skills

Your experience learning new skills for your dream job is critical. If you want to spend more time learning new things to find your dream job, you will effortlessly learn the skills needed. But, if learning is a drag, and you can’t wait to be done with your assignments, you need to rethink your strategy.

Once you have a list of required skills for your dream job, make a game plan to build your skills. There are articles, books, and online courses to learn virtually anything. The point is that you have many options to learn whatever skills necessary. Most likely, whatever job you dream about requires learnable skills. You can learn what it takes to land your dream job if you are willing to put in the time.

Here are the most common ways to acquire job skills:

  • Take online courses.
  • Volunteer.
  • Read relevant blogs and websites.
  • Attend industry group events.
  • Find a paid or an unpaid internship.
  • Create a blog about your dream job.
  • Find a mentor who has the dream job you want.
  • Obtain industry certifications.

Get Experience

Reading and learning about job skills is one thing, but having the necessary experience is another. You may not have any experience required for your dream job, but that’s fine. There are many ways to get experience. For example, you can go through hands-on training. You can volunteer to work for free part-time to build your experience.

Talk to people who already work in jobs you dream about.

Start networking with people working in jobs you want for yourself. Connect on social platforms, ask for introductions, or email people through LinkedIn. Ask specific questions about your dream job. Ask pointed questions about what concerns you about the job. But don’t be too needy. Don’t be surprised if not everyone responds to your requests. People get busy, and they may not always have the time to respond to your questions.

Learn about their career paths and seek their advice. Ask about their professional aspirations. Only ask a few questions at a time. If you send ten questions, you might not get a response. Prepare your questions in advance. Take time to prepare and do your homework before you talk to them. People will respect you more if they know that you took time for research before you made contact.

After you speak with someone, take the time to thank them. If you know the location of their office, send a hand-written “thank you” card. Almost nobody does this anymore, but it says a lot about you. It only takes a few minutes to write and mail a card, but it means so much more than an email, post, or tweet.

Ask your friends and family members for introductions. You already have an extensive network at your disposal; use it to network with people in your dream job. Beyond your personal and professional network, you can attend conferences and workshops. Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups and Twitter chats. Search for people on LinkedIn, read blog posts, and interviews about your dream job. For instance, if you’re curious about what a day in a Python software developer’s life looks like, do a quick LinkedIn search, and you’ll find more Python professionals you could possibly contact. Before you set your heart on a job, make sure you understand what it is like day-to-day.

Apply for Your Dream Job

Make sure you prepare your resume targeting your dream job. List the required skills. Explain your experience and what makes you a good fit for the job. Create a list of employers you want to target. Don’t just send out resumes but make real connections with people in your target companies. Send them a short note about your intent to work there and offer to send a resume. Follow up after your first contact and expect to follow up several times after.

Take the following steps to land your dream job:

  • Prepare your resume.
  • Create a list of your dream employers.
  • Make a list of relevant jobs.
  • Write a specific cover letter for each job you are applying for.
  • Network with decision-makers in your target companies.
  • Attend events your target employers attend to make connections.
  • Follow up after you submitted the application.
  • Follow up several times.
  • Keep working, and you will land your dream job.

You can make your dream job a reality by following the above five steps.