- Play to your strengths
The first place to start any journey to the dream career is to identify clearly what you’re good at. These will be job-specific abilities, skills and personality traits that will come naturally to. Being able to identify what you are good at will allow you to consider how best you can apply these and in what type of environment. Playing to your strengths will mean you are more likely to do better in your job and therefore allow you to enjoy what you do. For example, are you the type of person who really likes to be organised and has a natural affinity with meeting deadlines? The main issue many jobseekers can have is identifying what these strengths are. Start by jotting down some ideas and think about the times when you have been more naturally drawn to using these skills. Failing that, ask friends, family members and colleagues who may be able to provide a unique insight into suitable careers for you.
- Take a Careers Assessment
There are many free online tests that you can take that will help you narrow down your career options. If you were to search for the Myers Briggs Personality Test which is a good starting point. The theory is based on 16 different personalities and based on this it will determine what you are good at, the types of environments you are drawn to and how this links to certain suggested professions based on your personality traits. Of course, with any careers test you take, it’s important to not let the results lead your search. For example, you might consider yourself to not to be good at maths, only to realise that you are actually quite logical with good problem-solving skills. Based on this you may have discounted many suitable careers that you would actually be very good at, such as IT or technical support.
- Do your Research
It is always worth considering before embarking on any career change, why you want that change and what your motivations are. If you don’t like your boss or the company you work for it might not necessarily be a new career that you are after. Perhaps it’s the management style of your boss or the company culture that isn’t for you. If after consideration it is a career change you seek, then invest some time in some careful career research and job search. Research the typical businesses operating within the field and scan through job listings. It would also be helpful to review the skills and experience required and then consider how this links to what you already have.
- Get Some Work Experience
You may be in the fortunate position that you know what your dream job is. Great! The first place to start any successful job hunt is to get some experience; in that field as this often the best way to work out if you like working and are suited to that career. In some cases, it may not have lived up to your expectations. Equally, it could confirm what you had hoped for and provide you with a unique insight into that profession. This is also especially true of someone with limited or no work experience, including recent school or university leavers, where the majority of your experience will be in education making it very difficult to know how you perform in different working environments.
- Consider your Work Environment
For some people, they are driven by the type of working environment that they are in as a way to narrow down their choices. Some people wouldn’t dream of working in an office environment and may be more suited to a hands-on practical outdoor role. You may also want to consider if you work better in a team environment; which provides greater opportunities for collaboration; however, if you prefer working individually, then perhaps a freelance role might suit you better. Also, consider the working environment and what this might look like, open-plan offices are not for everyone as are busy factory and retail shop floors.
- Consider your Work Values
There are many values and what we attribute to these will vary depending on the individual. Extrinsic factors are also known as tangible rewards such as, the opportunity for travel, salary, creating your own hours, holiday entitlement and autonomy over your work are all critical factors to be considered. Intrinsic values are the intangible rewards that keep you motivated in your job. This might include the variety and reward you get from your work, ability to help others, feeling respected and the opportunity to take risks. It is perfectly normal to have a conflict between your values, but it is a skill to identify what is important to you and how best that you can achieve these. For example, you may have always wanted to work in sales and ideally sought a 9-5 job that would allow flexibility around family commitments. However, traditionally, a career within sales can be highly demanding and target-driven; often requiring a high degree of flexibility in hours to ensure deadlines are met. It is also quite common for these values to change over time, so the high paid job with high levels of responsibility that you craved in your 20s, may not seem as appealing 10 years later, when raising a young family, and the desire for a work-life balance seems more important.
- Consider Past Jobs
Looking into your past jobs could be the key to finding your future dream career. Think back throughout your jobs and what you enjoyed the most and what you didn’t enjoy. The aim is to get more of what you enjoyed and less of what you didn’t enjoy in your dream job.
- Turn a Hobby into a Business
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, could be the link to your future career happiness. Maybe you’re a keen baker, gardener or photographer and never considered turning these hobbies into a lucrative business idea. There are so many skills and professions in high demand, that a sideline could be a really good option. In the case of a lot of businesses, they start small and are usually not an overnight success. It could be something you could grow steadily whilst continuing in your present job or alongside family commitments, which also then takes the pressure off whilst you build up your network of customers.
- Make a Plan
So you have researched your options and identified your skills, now it’s time to make a plan. Firstly, look at what is achievable and when it can be achieved by. You may want to set short-term and long-term goals and break your plan down into achievable goals to help chart your progress. Initially, if it’s a long-term plan of a career change or setting up a new business, consider what courses and skills you might need to update to make this happen. Again, there are many free online courses and take a look through courses at your local college. Also, who can assist you with plan? Do you know people doing the job who can help or perhaps friends and family who can put in a word with their contacts? Using your resources will be key you now.
- Prepare your job search toolkit
In order to compete against other qualified candidates, you will firstly need a strong CV and supporting cover letter which goes hand in hand. Ensure within the cover letter you clearly state the reasons for any career change and the transferable skills that you have to offer. Talk about all previous accomplishments, skills and experience and how they link with this dream role.