Whether you’re about to graduate college, unemployed, or looking for a job switch, you might find yourself feeling a little lost during your search for your perfect career. While some job searchers are comfortable with simply finding a gig that pays the bills, many crave more from their work. If you’re like me, you strive to find a career that not only fits your skills, but one that you also feel passionate about and overall enjoy. You want to wake up thrilled to go to work and feel passionate about your purpose within your position.
However, you feel stuck. How do you find this job? What type of professions should you look for? The following steps can help you make progress towards discovering your perfect career.
Ask yourself the following questions:
What do you like and dislike?
Take some time to really think about your interests, and well as what you genuinely don’t enjoy. This can be anything! From hobbies, to skills, to tasks at work or classes in school, anything you find interesting can potentially guide you in a direction to an ideal job situation. The same goes for your dislikes – you can make a list of tasks and topics you should avoid during your job search. For example, I enjoy theme parks, writing, and social media, and don’t particularly care for accounting and science. With this in mind, a perfect career for me will avoids accounting and science, while also involving at least one of my core interests.
What motivates you?
Identify what gets you excited throughout the day. Notice what pushes you to move forward and meet that next goal, or accomplish your daily tasks. Maybe it’s staying organized and checking off your to-do list, or the pure elation and satisfaction you feel after finally finishing that daunting and challenging project. You can apply these motivations to the types of jobs you’re searching for, and see if they align with what keeps you going and pushes you forward each day.
What are your core values?
Address what you deep down and truly believe in. For example, if your boss asks you to stretch the truth while interacting with your customer, you might feel uncomfortable carrying out the request. Your personal moral compass does not agree with your boss’ expectations with dishonesty. This means honesty is one of your core values. Would a job that goes against one of your values make you excited to go to work every day? Probably not.
What are your skills?
Think about your assignments and projects in school, or even tasks you’ve accomplished at jobs or volunteer opportunities. Which ones were you good at? Was it crunching numbers in excel, or writing research papers? In group projects were you the planner, executor, or great at keeping your word and doing your part? Identifying what comes naturally to you doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do these things to find your dream job, but they can help steer you in a direction that you might enjoy. For example, I can do statistics if needed, but it’s definitely not something I want that’s prevalent in my career. On the other hand, through the years I’ve become a decent public speaker, so an occupation requiring solid presentation skills can work to my advantage since it’s something I’ve grown to enjoy.
What is your ideal lifestyle?
Picture the type of life you want to have in your future. Either as soon as your immediate future, or 20 years from now. Are you comfortable waking up in the morning and heading to a nine to five office job? Or do you strive for a more flexible lifestyle, with the opportunity to work from home? These preferences may change over time, but finding a company and position that supports your ideal lifestyle and can make or break your experience and overall job satisfaction.
Try these activities when answering the above questions:
Make a chart, diagram, or list
If you’re a visual type like myself, take some time to answer these questions on paper. Draw some columns, make a diagram, even doodle a picture of your desires, skills, and goals. Writing everything down and seeing what’s traveling through your mind can help you actually see what steps you need to take to discover and land your perfect career.
This can range from journaling in lists like the previous activity, but you can also use a more stream of conscious strategy and literally write anything and everything that comes to mind. This is beneficial in a number of ways, especially clearing your head of any clutter that might be blocking you from identifying important points and answers about yourself. Sometimes when I journal, it leads me down a thought path I didn’t expect. In the end, I come to a new conclusion or solution to the problem at hand, all thanks to a bit of “word vomit” on paper!
Talk to friends, family, and colleagues
Ask people you know what they think about the questions I suggested, or even simply ask them for opinions on jobs you might enjoy. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can shed light on brand new ideas and options you never thought were possible. Heck, I never understood the point of blogging until my mom’s friend suggested I give it a try, and here we are!
Trust your instincts
Sometimes your intuition knows best. While first impressions may not always be correct, your gut instinct could be telling you something very important about your potential job satisfaction during the application phase or interview. Are you feeling a little weird about the person interviewing you? Does your instinct sense that the two of you will be able to work together and collaborate easily if they’re on your potential future team? Again, sometimes first opinions can be misleading, but other times it can be the warning you needed to try a different direction with another company.
Stuck in a job you don’t enjoy? In the meantime, try to find a way to exercise your interests and passions. Start a hobby, take a class, or set some personal goals while you try to discover and land your dream job. Who knows, maybe one of these activities can help you find what you’ve been looking for all along!
What are some of your answers to these questions? Also, what’s your biggest challenge when it comes to finding your dream career? I’d love to know in the comments!