Whether you’re just starting out in life, looking to make a career change or (lucky you!) trying to decide between multiple job offers, you may find the possibilities overwhelming. How do you figure out which job will best fit your skills, passion and personality? What if you aren’t fully qualified for the job you want?
Here are some methods that may help you identify — and land — your perfect job.
Describe Your Ideal Job and Employer
This is about more than your work duties. Write down a complete profile of the role and the corporate culture that will best fulfill your dreams.
Think about what you liked or didn’t like about past jobs.
- What types of activities do you like best — group/team efforts or working by yourself; a structured routine or planning your own workflow; a hands-off boss or one that keeps an eye on everything; high pressure deadlines or a relaxed pace; tons of overtime or work-life balance?
- What duties did you most enjoy that you would like to do more of in your next job?
- What parts of past jobs did you hate?
If you’re still unsure of what direction you should take, take some online career assessments which will analyze your interests, values and personality traits and match them with suitable careers. There are also professional career counselors who may help you with a more personalized approach.
Match Your Education and Experience
You may have already started along your ideal career path. In that case, it’s simply a matter of choosing which job offers the best opportunity to use the skills you’ve already acquired.
If you don’t have training in the field of your dreams, you may still have desirable qualities that translate to the new role. For example, a customer service rep’s people skills are valuable in other customer-facing positions such as salesperson, realtor, hotel concierge or hospital patient care coordinator.
If the career you’re interested in requires specific knowledge that you don’t have, then work on getting that knowledge. The most affordable way is to take advantage of on-the-job training at your current employer. Or investigate classes and certification programs; see if your employer will pay all or part of the cost.
Follow Your Passion
Maybe you secretly want to do something for which you have no education or experience. Is it possible to break into a completely different career?
It’s not easy, but yes, you can. But be prepared to accept unpaid internships, side gigs or volunteer work in order to get your foot in the door. It may even be possible to create an opportunity for yourself at your current workplace. Say you want to be a writer — offer to handle (or start) the company’s internal newsletter, website content or social media posts.
Utilize your connections for information and advice about the field you want to enter. Talking with someone who’s already working in that job may reveal some things you didn’t consider. Being a chef may seem like fun until you learn that they typically work 50 to 70 hours a week, including nights and weekends.
3 Bonus Job Seeking Tips
Assuming you aren’t the one in a million who jumps directly into their dream job, what steps should you take to get from here to there?
1. Consider jobs that contain facets of the industry that interests you. For example, if you want to be an event planner, apply at companies who regularly do public promotions such as grand openings, new product launches or press briefings — all of which have to be coordinated by someone. Once you acquire that experience, you’ll be better positioned for the dream job.
2. Keep an eye on the job market — and your resume up to date — even if you’re reasonably content at your current employer. You never know when that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will appear!
3. Beef up your resume with examples of your life skills that are applicable to any job. They may be enough to get you hired in spite of missing a technical capability. Here are the top life skills that most employers look for:
- Ability to communicate — both verbally and in writing.
- Listening — equally important, especially in customer-facing jobs.
- Cooperation — teamwork, empathy, emotional intelligence, conflict management, negotiating, respect, recognizing diversity.
- Decision making — resourcefulness, problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, organization, prioritization, time management.
- Handling criticism — willingness to learn, resilience, apologizing, asking for help, giving and receiving constructive feedback.
Always remember, you can control your career destiny. The road may take you down a few unexpected detours, but even those experiences can help you find your perfect job.