Do you ever waste a half hour day-dreaming about your dream job? The good news is that real people do get Dream Jobs every day. But you have to go after your Dream Job - it's unlikely to come to you. Here are five tips for zeroing in on your Dream Job, and getting it.
1) First off, decide what's important to you. What kind of environment and work makes you happy? Too many people are doing jobs that they fell into out of college and never left - maybe they've changed their actual jobs, but the industry and/or function hasn't changed. There are a lot of great careers out there. It's never too late to rediscover yourself! A quick online tool like the DiSC (widely available) can help you figure out what kinds of work environments will make your heart beat faster.
2) Instead of sitting online reading the job listings, talk to people around you (at the gym, at church, or people you meet through an online networking group like WorldWIT, www.worldwit.org) about their career choices. You'll find out about career options you never knew existed! Just yesterday, I had lunch with a woman who is an expert in WBE (woman-owned business) certification for entrepreneurs, but is also a handwriting analysis expert and a botanical illustrator. There are lots of other unusual combinations of talents out there. You'd be amazed at how your professional skills and your passion can be combined in a career you may never have heard of!
3) Once you have an idea of what you want to do, sit down with a piece of paper and draw a logical ‘roadmap’ between what you've done and what you want to do. If you've been an Accountant, for instance, and want to get a job running an art gallery, think about the skills you've acquired that will lend themselves to the role you want. Your goal is not only to develop a pitch for prospective employers (about why they should hire you), but also to convince yourself that you really have what it takes to make a leap to your dream job!
4) In making a career switch, you have to network like a fanatic. It's okay if you've never networked before. Create a profile on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com ) and connect to people you know who also use that site for networking. Re-connect with former colleagues, people you went to school with, the parents of your kids’ school friends - everyone. Make networking a priority in your Dream Job search - the benefits are extraordinary.
5) As you begin to interview for your Dream Job, keep in mind why you're making your move in the first place. Speak your truth at every job interview: don't get pushed into that “smile and say what you don't mean" corner that so many corporate people suffer in every day. It's not a dream job if you can't be yourself. Put yourself out there, with every person you meet. It's a new day - Dream Jobs are everywhere. You just have to get a hammer and start building.
Liz Ryan is a former Fortune 500 HR executive, an entrepreneur and a workplace expert. She leads the world's largest online discussion network for professional women, called WorldWIT (http://www.worldwit.org). Liz lives in Boulder, Colorado.