How to Target and Land Your Dream Job

Originally published to LinkedIn on January 26, 2016

Figuring out what you want to do for your career is a challenging task. It takes some folks decades of bad jobs to realize what interests them and where they would want to work. Finding a job you love isn’t easy, and even if you find your “dream” job, there are going to be parts of it that you don’t like and aren’t interesting in doing, right? 

There are plenty of ways you can figure out what you want to do with your career and your life.

  • You can sit at your computer for hours researching job descriptions that sound semi-interesting to you.
  • You can speak with your friends to figure out what interests they have and see if you share the same.
  • You can stare at the wall of your cubicle and think of opportunities that are the complete opposite of what you’re doing, hoping they’d actually be fulfilling.

But folks, here’s a better way, and it’s much easier…

When I coach professionals just like you, the first thing to do when figuring out “what you want to do,” is breaking things down to their simplest components, to easy and obvious details about you, your career and what ultimately makes you tick as a professional. The first way to do this is to be methodological in answering this question: what have I done within my personal and work life that has made me happy, challenged, and successful?

Do a bit of a deep dive. What have you done in your life that you’re most proud of? Have you made a positive impact on something that has left you feeling good about yourself? Most people have had these experiences, and don’t connect them to their current job search. But you should. It’s the simplest way to figure out what you’re good at.

Put it in this context. When you were a teenager, did you lead a group of Boy Scouts up a mountain, and find that your leadership skills had your fellow Scouts persevere past their normal comfort zones, allowing them to ultimately make it to the top? Have you ever trained for a marathon and overcome training challenges and possibly difficult injuries to make it past the finish line? As a child, did you build a sandcastle that won a contest, showcasing your true talent in design and architecture? And yes, during the course of your career, have you nailed a project, reduced a budget, or written a report that truly impressed others (and yourself!)?

Once you write them out (with a pen and paper is best over a typed list, it will resonate more) and figure out what’s truly compelling about each experience, you’ll know what types of things (those common threads) you should incorporate into your job search, and what you should look for in your next position. Understanding how your life accomplishments have guided you to what you are doing now will give you the direction you need to figure out what career and industry are truly meant for you. If you can do this simple test successfully, determining your true career calling will be much clearer, and you’ll be on your way to that great position you had only dreamt of. You’ll see how effective this exercise truly is!

And even better, the next step of your ideal job search is easier! What I refer to as "defining your target list", using the results of the exercise above and matching the results to the right positions and companies, is one of the most effective exercises in finding you the right job.  This Thursday, 1/28 at 5:30 pm EDT I'll be hosting a free webinar on how to do this, step-by-step, with strategies on how to achieve this in a very short period of time.  With a little bit of research and some analysis, you'll have your list of target positions in hand and ready to begin what I like to call the most crucial part of the job phase, "identifying your key influencers." Without the target list, however, you'll still be wondering how to apply those skills you outlined in phase one. 

If you find that this post was helpful to you in any way, please share it with at least 3 people in your network. This is exactly how I pick up great tips and ideas from some of the other thought leaders, and I'd greatly appreciate any efforts you make to do the same.