If you've just graduated, the chances are that your dream job seems quite far away. It can feel daunting to move into the job market with no prior experience and starting from scratch. If you have your eyes set on a particular job, then the road to it can seem long, winding, and uncertain.
The job description of the job of your dreams is not an obstacle. It's a roadmap. Use it to know where you need to go. This article, inspired by Dr. Alok Kanojia's tips to secure your dream job after college, will go over the ten steps you need to take to get your dream job. This guide can help if you have some experience and need a little more direction to get there or even if you live at home but don't know where to start.
Figure Out Your Dream Job
The first step when figuring out how to land your dream job is to figure out what your dream job actually is. Once you've figured out your destination, you can start to think about how to get there.
However, be careful — there is a subtle trap that your mind can spring on you. If you get too attached to your ideal dream job, you may end up being disappointed. You may sideline great opportunities just because they do not live up to the ideal in your mind. Therefore, set your sights on your goal to determine the appropriate path, but don't lose sight of the path when you start walking on it.
Remember that if your dream job is based on the idea of making a lot of money, and living a comfortable life, then you might be signing up for a lot of suffering. If you want to live a meaningful life and be fulfilled in your work, you need to live a life based on your values, not your desires.
Here is a simple exercise to figure out what you value: write a page about what you think is wrong with the world. The first four to five sentences that you write will be things that you already know. However, if you sit down and do the exercise, you will start to learn a lot more about what you value than if you were to do this exercise in your head.
Once you have a sense of what you value, you can use that to orient yourself in the right direction. Even if you don't take one step forward, just facing the right direction can make a massive difference in your drive, motivation, and fulfillment.
Find Out How Qualified You Need to Be
Once you have figured out your dream job, dream company, or dream job title, you can start to determine how to get there.
If you have set your sights on a company, then go to their job listings. Find the role that you want to aspire towards, and copy-paste the job description and requirements into a text editor of your choice. This process will tell you precisely what the company is looking for in its ideal candidate.
Turn the Job Description into a To-Do List
Now, put the symbols "[ ]" at the beginning of every line of that job's description. Suddenly, you're not looking at just a job description. You're looking at a checklist. Every line on that job description is a skill you can acquire, experience you can accumulate, and traits you can develop.
This process is called operationalizing — breaking a bigger, abstract task down into smaller, concrete tasks. Your mind has an easier time processing smaller tasks than monolithic goals.
Break down your dream job into smaller, more manageable steps.
Do your research on the company. What problem are they trying to solve? What is their mission? How do they plan to get there? Keep this in mind when you approach the rest of the steps in this guide.
Internships are an excellent opportunity to learn. However, they become even more valuable when you tailor them to your dream job. Try to find internships that allow you to gain the experience and qualifications to find your dream job right after college.
Practically speaking, make a list of 50 small companies of the industry in which your dream job lives. Research those companies and write them an email asking if you can intern with them to learn a particular skill or set of skills listed in your dream job's required qualifications.
A lot of people advise against getting unpaid internships. However, if you do not need to start earning immediately, an unpaid internship that will help you build the skill set required for your dream job might be the way to go. If you ace that internship, you might even get offered a job in that company.
Also, remember that internships, degrees, and certifications are a means to an end. Your goal is to land your dream job, so you do not necessarily need to enjoy your internship. Focus on gaining the skills you need and doing a good job, and avoid engaging in the areas of that job that you do not need to, unless necessary.
If you are really struggling with a boring job, this article about dealing with a job that is boring can help.
Be Proactive About Learning
In this age of technology, you don't always need a degree to learn new things. While you are doing your internships or in the time between internships, try to find online courses that allow you to build the skills needed for your dream job. Get certifications if they are relevant. Don't fall into the ego trap of saying that you don't need a certification since you know something. Getting a certification is more about demonstrating your learning than the internal sense of knowing something.
Here's a simple trick to find resources for particular skills. You can copy-paste the essence of a job description requirement into Google and add "PDF" at the end. You will likely find a resource that is tailored to the skill you need to build.
For example, if you are looking for a game development job that requires you to know about the principles of game design, you can start by googling "Game design principles PDF". You may come across resources that list out several principles of game design. Read it, understand it, and create a project that demonstrates your understanding of that principle. You can add that project to your resume or cover letter to show that you understand the principles of game design well enough to implement them.
Treat Job Searching as your Full-Time Job
Spend a lot of time tailoring resumes to the job you are applying to. Write cover letters that address the company's core needs. Demonstrate that you are a good fit for their culture, work style, and needs by showing that you meet their required qualifications. This process is a lot of work and will likely take several hours of your day.
Remember that the purpose of crafting resumes is to secure an interview. If you can secure an interview, then your resume was good enough. Only list the experiences relevant to the job you are applying to.
During an interview, remember to lay out your qualifications correctly. Don't just talk about what you can do, talk about when you did it, how you did it, and how successful that was. Avoid pointing out your flaws and putting yourself down.
Keep Taking Initiative
You may need to send out 50-60 resumes to jobs and internships before getting an interview. Remember that rejections or a lack of response do not indicate that you, as a person, are deficient in any way. All it means is that your skillset was not a good fit for the company. Be careful of your mind telling you that you are a failure because you failed. Avoid letting failure become your identity.
If you look at successful people who failed a lot, you will realize that there is one thing common to each of them: initiative. Opportunities will only come to you if you put yourself out there to receive them. Take the initiative despite failure, and don't let your emotions dictate your actions. Maintain focus on the things you can make happen: your actions, rather than the things that happen to you: the results of your actions.
Find a Mentor
It is invaluable to be guided by someone in the industry that you want to jump into. Try to find someone who is further along in the industry of your dream job, and see if they are looking for a mentee. You can even try talking to your friends and family and ask if they know anyone. You can also try reaching out to people on LinkedIn, building rapport, sharing your values, and asking for guidance.
Also, start by asking if you can do something for them. People are more likely to help you if you can offer something of value. Be specific about what you're offering rather than a general offer to help. They will be more likely to accept if they think that you know what they need.
For example, saying:
"Hey, I am a systems analyst with two years of experience working with technologies such as X, Y, and Z. I would love to help your organization with your mission of X, since it is very dear to me. Please let me know if you ever need someone to do Y at your company."
is better than saying:
"Hey! I would love to help out at your organization. Please let me know if there is something that I can do!"
Again, don't form expectations that they will become your mentor if you help them. If you only want to help them because you want them to be your mentor, then be transparent about it. It will save everyone's time and energy.
Understand that Your Dream Job Might Change
Every human being evolves over time. Their interests and circumstances evolve with them. Recognize that the dream job you think you want right now may be an ideal in your mind. The more you learn about something, the less of a perfect ideal it becomes. You start to see the downsides, the flaws, and the long hours that the job might require.
Often, this can tarnish the idea of the job in your mind, and you may start to dislike it. It can start happening to every job that you think is your dream job, and eventually, you'll start to resent the very idea of work.
Pick your dream job based on your values, not your desires.
That is why we ask you to pick your dream job based on your values, not your desires. Desires are fleeting and compulsive, whereas values are made consciously. If you value your dream job's mission, you will be willing to tolerate the long hours, the hard work, and the challenges that come with it.
Additionally, if you are chasing a particular job title, you might realize that you didn't like the job once you get that title. You just liked the idea of being the person who did that kind of work. That is also a recipe for unfulfillment and resentment. If you want your passion for your work to last, then pick a job you value rather than one you desire.
Watch the full video here!