Job For Me: The Steps to Take to Find Your Dream Job|
Applying to college – at the time – seemed like one of the most strenuous and overwhelming experiences of my life. I read every college ranking list, perused every college advice website, and flipped through many of the ‘getting into college’ books. It felt like I wrote countless 1200-word-essays on why I was the right fit for a school. Everything I had worked on up to that point was riding on that small stack of application forms. This process was going to determine my place in life.
Fast-forward four years later. I’m about to graduate from college and start the process of looking for a job. But there is no common application or book to tell me where I belong, or even a list of places to get started. Four years ago, I was panicked about following all the right steps to get into the right school, but now, there aren’t even any clearly defined steps I’m supposed to follow! I don’t know what industry, what city, what job, or what-anything I’m supposed to start with. Where the heck am I supposed to turn to get on the right path and find the job for me?
My thinking on where to start? Utilize the process of elimination. You eventually end up with an option that fits you, even if it takes longer than expected.
Know what you don’t like
While I might not be clear on what I want to do, I definitely know what I don’t want to do. I decided to start from there. I wrote a list of things I knew I didn’t want to do: I do not want to work maniac hours, I do not want to cold call, and (although I was thinking that I may want to work in media) I do not want to work with celebrities. I made a chart:
|I Don’t Want To:|
|Spend crazy hours at the office|
|Cold call random people|
|Work with celebrities|
I suggest you go crazy with your own list! Write down all of the things you imagine yourself not doing. Make it an exhaustive list – include things as broad as “I don’t want a long commute” or as specific as “I don’t want to work in a dark office.”
Relate your list to careers
Once you’ve made the list, it is important to take the next steps to make it relevant to your job search. Brainstorm jobs that you are certain fall under your “don’t wants.” Push yourself to translate those “don’t wants” into career-oriented statements. For example, I don’t want to work crazy hours, so working at an advertising agency as an account executive may not fit me. Here are a few more examples that come to mind:
|I Don’t Want To:||So Working in This Position May Not Fit Me:|
|Spend crazy hours at the office||Advertising Agency Account Executive|
|Cold call random people||Sales Position|
|Work with celebrities||Entertainment Agent|
Now to make this exercise valuable to identifying the job for me I created a complementary list of what I wanted to do. Again, don’t worry about it being perfect, you now have a starting point!
|I Don’t Want To:||Instead, I Want To:|
|Spend crazy hours at the office||Work standard 9-5 hours and have the option to work from home during crazy times|
|Cold call random people||Work with a small, close-knit team|
|Work with celebrities||Work with brands like Coca-Cola or Dove|
Work your network and ask experts for advice
So where am I now? I’m at a point where I’ve identified what I don’t want to do and have a few ideas of what I would like to do. The next part is asking for advice from your network. Be proactive and do your due diligence to find out what those jobs are really like. The best way to really learn about a job, career, or company is to talk to someone – not to read a magazine review. Start strategically networking with people – ask friends who have graduated, use your college alumni database, and utilize LinkedIn!
Make sure, before you enter the meeting, you’ve come prepared with questions based off of your “don’t wants” and “wants” lists. Your questions should be specific with the goal of collecting information that will help you determine if their career falls in line with your interests.
|I Don’t Want To:||Ask:|
|Spend crazy hours at the office||What is your day-to-day schedule like during your busiest times?|
|Cold call random people||How much time do you spend working with teams?|
|Work with celebrities||Can you tell me more about the clients that you work with?|
Eventually the more research you do and the more people you talk to, the more you’ll figure out what you want to do. It might be a slow process and you might connect with a lot of people whose jobs don’t sound like a fit for you. But guess what: if you commit to this process of investing in yourself, you will to connect with someone who can provide advice and help in the journey. Who knows, an informational interview might actually lead you straight to your dream job.
Photo courtesy of Tizzy and Lish.