When you were little, teachers probably asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Maybe you said a policeman, a teacher, or an astronaut. The idea that there are thousands of career choices isn’t there when you are a kid. For me, it was a fighter pilot, (thanks drones, for ruining my childhood hopes and dreams). At that time, a career seemed like something that wouldn’t happen for a long time.
But now it’s here, maybe you are graduating and trying to figure out what you want to do next with your life. Or maybe you are thinking about switching careers later in your life. Now that the time has come to decide, your interests have probably changed.
Finding the right career for you is a huge decision, but can determine the direction and level of happiness you have for the rest of your life. I like to use the statistic that two things will determine 95% of your happiness or unhappiness, who you marry and your career. So here is how to find a job you love in 10 steps:
1. Do some Reflection
A career coach or some kind of aptitude test cannot tell you what you should pursue; it has to come from you. Take an afternoon, find a peaceful place (I like to choose somewhere by the water), and start writing. Just start writing about everything, and then focus on your career here and there, writing about anything is therapeutic.
Spend two hours in a private place, preferably by yourself. Friends and family can help, but as them later after you have a few ideas about what you want to do. They may dismiss or encourage ideas which aren’t your true feelings if they help you brainstorm. Think about what you love, what you like, and what you hate. Write everything down, and then free your mind and go do something else for the rest of the day.
The next day, go back and review your previous writing, see if you feel the same way, and write some more. See if you can put together a unified idea of what you want to do. Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself and the answers can give you some guidance:
- What are you passionate about?
- What would you do with your time if money was not a constraint?
- What interests you?
- What skills do you have?
- What do you take pride in?
- What would you pay to do?
- Whose career do you admire?
2. Do some reading!
Search the web, buy a few books, and read up on what is going on in the career path you are interested in. What are the barriers to entry? How do people like it after 25 years of the profession? What do other’s say about how to find a job you love? Read as much as you can and it will benefit it in at least two ways.
First, it will help you confirm that this is really the career choice for you. Second, it will give you some industry knowledge that you can speak about during future interviews for a position. If you decide you chose wrong, analyze your skills again. Talk with a parent, friend, or professor about what they think. The more reading you do, the more fired up you will get to find that job you really want.
3. Use several different job search techniques
Diversify your efforts just like you would an investment portfolio. Dedicate specific time blocks to applying to jobs online, apply to jobs in person, reach out to your network, and keep developing new skills. You never know which one will come through and it helps to work on multiple leads. You can even focus extra time to the one that gets YOU the most results. Everyone’s job search is different different and there is no perfect rule.
4. Find a Mentor
Do it sooner rather than later. A mentor can introduce you to new industries and people that you might have not thought about before and provide connections. You also are able to leverage your mentor’s reputation with your new connections. If he or she has a solid reputation and vouches for you, this passes credibility on to you.
5. Keep in touch with people who can point you in the right direction
Keep up your current connections, no matter what career or industry they are in. Who knows where the lead for your next job could originate from? Make phone calls, text, email, and use social network consistently to keep up with them. Next, actively seek out new connections that have the career you are considering. Using LinkedIn is a great way to do both of these.
6. Learn from your mistakes and shortcomings
Find out why you didn’t get positions that you interviewed for. Call and ask why you didn’t get it, be persistent! Not enough education, not enough experience, etc. could be a consistent reason and then you will know where you need to improve.
7. Focus on the career you are looking for
Have a focused job search. Once you figure out the career you want, customize you resume according to job position that you are applying for and get rid of irrelevant and outdated information on it. If a prior position can show no relevance to the ones you are applying for, remove it! (Also see these Resume Best Practices)
I can’t tell you how many resumes I see of professionals that include lame jobs or clubs from 10 years ago that just take up space on their resume. Employers don’t want to see that and it may even hurt your chances.
8. Focus on a few companies that you really like
Research companies that offer positions in the field you are looking to get into. Choose those who have a culture that fits your personality. Make sure they have the benefits, salary, and advancement opportunities that are similar to what you are looking for. Setup Google Alerts for the companies so you know what is going on for them and look for any job openings that may pop up at the company.
9. Don’t be delusional
Many great jobs out there are up for grabs, you have to do a reality check and make sure you are not delusional when approaching your career. I’m not saying don’t follow hard dreams; please do, the difficult ones are often the most exciting and fulfilling.
But there will be certain limitations such as, age, education, physical, monetary, and other limitations that are out of your control at this time. As standard, there is almost always a solution that can be worked out with time. Read number ten to plan ahead how you are going to figure them out.
10. Plan your career with a long term focus
Think two steps ahead. I read a controversial, but entertaining, book called The 48 Laws of Power many years ago. It contained some interesting, maniacal, and straight ruthless advice for gaining power, but in books like that you have to filter through and keep the golden nuggets. One of the key takeaways was #29: Plan all the way to the end. People with power plan many steps ahead to their desired result and have a long term focus. You should too!
– The JobUnlocker Team