There are a plethora of books on finding your passion, but how does this advice apply to your career? Being stuck in a job that’s wrong for you can be dull at best and a prison at worst. Finding your dream career can be one of the most freeing and empowering things in the world, but what if your dream job doesn’t exist? Follow these tips to create your dream career when no one job ticks all the boxes.
Make A Wish List
What do you truly love doing? If you don’t already know what your dream job is, start by listing the things you’re passionate about and look for places where those ideas intersect. Identifying what kind of work you enjoy, what skills you have or want to develop further, and what kind of work environment you want are key steps to creating your dream job. Tools such as O*Net – a U.S. Department of Labor site with resources to match users to occupations based on career clusters, skills, and work style – can be very helpful in starting your wish list.
Think you know what your dream job might be but don’t know where to start? If you haven’t already worked in the job or industry you want to enter, take the first step by looking for job shadowing or volunteer opportunities in the field. Trying out new jobs or even new projects at your current job can help you refine your wish list and it’s often enough to determine whether you want to learn more or realize this actually isn’t the job for you. By trying out things that have the right base elements, you can learn more about your strengths and working style and figure out exactly what works for you. This also helps you learn who you most like working with and helps you get comfortable seeing yourself in a new role.
Expand Your Network
Breaking into a new industry can be hard. Networking with people who already work in the field you hope to enter will help you learn to talk the talk and also help you find mentors who will help you develop. Joining professional development organizations, enrolling in professional education programs, or joining industry meetup groups are all great ways to expand your network.
Make A Transition Plan
Look at your resume. Do you have the skills and experience to launch a new career, or do you need additional experience or education? Career One Stop – another excellent U.S. Department of Labor site – has 900+ occupation profiles where you can find out what skills and training are necessary to enter a particular field, and also has resources to help you find and pay for additional training.
Once you have identified any skills gaps, make a transition plan for your dream job. If at all possible, get started before quitting your current job. Today, most postsecondary students are working and going to school at the same time. There are many flexible programs out there – such as CCPE’s professional certificate programs – that are designed to provide students with real-world skills they can apply in the workplace and which offer classes on evenings or weekends to reduce time away from work. You may even be able to convince your employer to help you finance your education or training if you can prove that it’ll help you in your current role. For more ideas on funding your education, check out our funding resources page.
Take The Plunge
Ready to take the leap into a new role? Asking for the support of your network can help you look for new opportunities. But you may not have look far. Pay attention to what your company or organization is trying to achieve and what it isn’t doing well. Can you help your organization solve a problem with your new skills? You may be able to create a new position for yourself that is both challenging and interesting. Making a case for yourself with powerful data on what you can do (or have already been doing) to contribute to the organization’s success can help you convince your organization to let you create your dream job.
Remember: Don’t wait for someone to hand you your dream job. Go create it for yourself.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” — Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author and personal development expert