Finding Your Dream Job 101
By Stu Turner
Image courtesy of Unsplash
Do dream jobs even exist? Well, it depends on how you define “dream job”, but if you don’t have the fundamental belief that they exist in the first place, you’ll never find one.
Let’s start with an underlying assumption: A dream job is one you wake up feeling excited about, one you eagerly tell your friends and family about, and one where you are truly proud of the work you do, the people you work with, and the impact you make.
Does this dream job exist? Absolutely! The problem is, no one ever told you how to actually find one.
The traditional school of thought simply involves searching the interwebs, applying for jobs that somewhat fit your background, and hoping for the best.
This approach is fundamentally flawed. Here’s why:
It relies on your existing background, which may or may not be where you want your career to go.
Online application portals have become incredibly complex, clogged, and unreliable.
As much as companies are beginning to leverage AI and robots to streamline processes, at the end of the day, real people still make hiring decisions. There will always be a human element to hiring. Think of how many times you’ve heard a recruitment specialist say, “They have good experience, but what we really liked is how they align with our values and culture.” The thing is, it’s become increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd on a piece of paper (or a digital application).
It’s time you took another approach. So, let’s dive in.
If you’re looking for your dream job, aligning your future direction with your past is not necessarily going to land you where you want. Not only that, but the advent of online application portals has really gummed up the hiring process.
The numbers from my years of recruiting and executive coaching show the grim reality for candidates. Upon first receiving an open position to fill, I’d typically have four-to-10 candidates, mostly from referrals and my own searches on LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. If I posted that same job online, within three days my average number of applicants would jump up to 475. The competition has effectively increased tenfold, and if you want to land your dream job, this is not where you want to compete and waste energy.
Then, the recruiting firm would charge between 15-25% of the candidate’s first-year compensation if they were placed. So for a position that paid $100,000, the company may end up paying up to $25,000 to my recruiting firm.
Clearly, sourcing talent can be quite expensive. This is why companies love referrals — they are free. As someone on a quest to land their dream job, you have to understand this and use it to your advantage.
So instead of following the traditional path most other candidates take, you must adapt your approach. Here’s how:
Network. Meet and get to know people who work at companies you’d like to work for. If you meet them at a networking event or elsewhere, one of the best ways to build upon this relationship is by inviting them to grab coffee or lunch. However, if you can’t meet up in person, consider other approaches. Cold emailing is still an appropriate and effective way to connect and land job opportunities (I can show you how to find the right people to email, as well as share with you a few successful templates). If you want to go above and beyond, get creative and put your resume on a cake. You just never know what will and won’t work until you try, and if you stack referrals for 10 different companies using these methods, I’d pretty much guarantee you get an interview. It’s the foot in the door you need to land the dream job you want.
Prepare. Once you start landing interviews, preparation is key to nailing them. I used to do about 10 executive-level interview preps per week for almost two years, and I may be biased, but I think my prep is pretty darn fabulous. Again, it all comes down to putting in the intentional work it takes to prepare for each and every interview. That means learning more about who you’re interviewing with (beyond their name and job title), preparing thoughtful questions for them, and showcasing what makes you a critical asset to their team. After all, this is your dream job you’re after — be prepared to share your genuine interest in the role and why you’re a perfect fit.
Negotiate. Even once you get an offer letter, the process isn’t over yet. You’ll want to stress test the company by negotiating and finding out what they’re really willing to give you. The only way to know is to ask. This goes without saying, but tying back to #2, be sure you not only research salary for the given role but also prepare a strong case backed with data from previous accomplishments to prove your value. All in all, and this bears repeating, the only way to know is to ask. Do not be afraid to ask!
Upon realizing that this framework empowered people to land fulfilling jobs in today's challenging labor market, I created an online course and community to help people do exactly everything I’ve talked about so far. It’s called Achieved Fulfillment and I encourage you to check it out if this blog resonated with you. Otherwise, keep networking and building meaningful relationships with other professionals. It’s what drew me to GET Phoenix, and I hope you’ve found value in doing the same on the path to elevating your career.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stu Turner is an executive coach and recruiter turned career consultant. He helps young professionals find jobs they love in today’s flip-flopped market. He’s also very outdoorsy and enjoys hiking, skiing, and overlanding.