With an abundance of skilled candidates for a variety of in-demand professions, the competition for “dream” jobs remains incredibly fierce. So what can be done, then, to match ambitious, eager professionals with the career of their dreams? The solution is simple: let your dream job come to you! We’ve compiled a few tips below that can help you stake your claim in a diverse and fascinating job market or chart a direct course to raises, promotions—and even the corner office?.
Think about what exactly you want
Think about exactly what kind of job you want. Your career goals could include titles, job responsibilities, pay or even locations. The first step is figuring out what exactly it is about your career you want.
For example, maybe you’re a non-manager and you want to be ready to manage a team of five 10 in five years. Maybe you’re a director and you want to become a vice president. Maybe you just want to add some new skills to your portfolio, or take home a coveted industry award you’ve had your eye on.
“Specificity is crucial in this step,” says Myles Miller, founder of LeadUp.biz. “Too broad of strokes will almost assure the unlikelihood of it actually happening.”
Figure out your top five priorities — whether it is company culture, salary or a specific job position. “If you understand what motivates you as an employee, it will be easier to target your applications to opportunities that match your skills and ambitions,” says Paul Sandusky, vice-president of talent acquisition and development at Ceridian
Learn what it will take to get there
Once you know where you’re headed, you need to figure out a path to getting there. The best directional help can come from those who are already at the point in their careers where you’d like to be. Try to find people in your network whom you can use as role models. Ask them out for coffee and make them tell you how they got from where you are now to where they are now. Ask them what they’d do if they were you.
Don’t know anyone who has your dream job? See if your industry group or employer has a formal mentoring program to partner you with someone who can provide you with a roadmap.
Be aware, says career coach Palmer, that to climbing to your self-imposed new heights might require you to put in some work outside of work. “Perhaps it’s more education, intense networking or expanding your skill set,” she says.
Alright, so you’ve got your plan. And you know what you want. Now it’s time to find that dream job:
Job seekers can spend a lot of time trolling job sites and sending resumes en masse without culling much of an employer response let alone landing an interview. Employers still receive between 102 and 137 applications per job from both social-media networks and job boards.
“You don’t want your specificity to cost you your dream job at your dream company,” advises Mariah DeLeon, vice-president of people at workplace ratings and job review site Glassdoor. She suggests that if you get to the point where you’re interviewing for a job at a company you want to work for but that isn’t quite the right fit, be candid with HR or the recruiter about your expertise and desire to work there. There’s always the possibility of a better opportunity opening up within that company.
Create a list of jobs that meet your criteria.
Once you’re able to articulate what you’re looking for in a job, use these criterias to guide you in your search. Create a list to keep track of information. Sheryl Sandberg used an Excel spreadsheet to organize her job search when she graduated from Harvard Business School. Use the format that best suits you.
Customize your resume and cover letter.
Shape both your cover letter and resume to speak to the company, position, keywords and job requirements. Having multiple “versions” of your resume can be an effective way of tailoring your experience to a particular role or industry, Sandusky says.
In developing a resume and other promotional materials for the field you want to pursue, think about how your current skills and talents apply to the responsibilities you’ll hold in the new job. For example, knowledge of project management, client relations, information technology and sales will take you far in most types of careers.
But don’t rely on your résumé…too much.
A résumé is a good first step to get your foot in the door and describe what you’ve accomplished in your career. But showing is better than telling. Create a portfolio that represents who you are and what you stand for, which you can add to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Those are the places where hiring professionals will go to check you out, anyway.
Research the Company in Depth
Before you do anything else, make sure you set yourself up well for the whole job application process by finding out as much as possible about the company you’re applying to. This doesn’t just mean browsing the website, though. Go deeper by engaging with the company’s social media profiles to get an idea of the team culture, looking over some reviews on Glassdoor, and reading up on the company’s competitors and points of differentiation. Hint: Look up the company on LinkedIn, and see what comes up in the “People Also Viewed” section.
Hit Send and Start Preparing for the Interview
With your resume and cover letter all polished and ready to go and your network backing you up, you’re ready to hit send! Unfortunately, though, it’s not time to relax. Since there’s no standard time for a company to get back to job applicants, there’s no telling whether you have two days or two weeks to prepare for the interview. So, it’s best to get cracking sooner rather than later.
Now that your planning is done and you’ve secured that interview. It’s time to make sure that your dream job doesn’t slip through your fingers.
Preparing for an interview takes a lot more than Googling a list of common interview questions . You have to make a great first impression appearance-wise (no wrinkly suits here!), have a great knowledge of your target company and its product, and, of course, know exactly how to convey that you’re the perfect fit for the job.
Plan the perfect outfit
Make sure you get your outfit cleaned, pressed, and tailored (a modern fit is best). People often have their “interviewing suit” that’s been sitting in their closet for the past couple of years, and they dust it off for the occasion—you don’t want to be that girl.
Do a little pampering, because looking your best helps you feel your best. If that means you need a facial, haircut, or even a new interview outfit, then by all means do it! Feeling good about yourself will boost your confidence—and we probably don’t have to tell you that confidence is key to landing your dream job.
Clean out your bag! If you have to dig past candy wrappers, phone chargers, and old receipts to get that resume, you’re going to look a little unorganized. Everything you need should be neatly organized and readily accessible. The less you have to rifle through your bag, the better.
Know Your Audience
Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company—from as many sources as you can. Talk to friends and contacts, read current news releases, and, yes, spend some time on Google. Often, candidates just look at the information a company is pushing out via the website and social media, but fail to look more in depth at what others are saying. By doing so, you’ll get the larger picture about the company (along with any negative press).
Make Yourself (And Your Skills) Known!
Social media is more than just a collection of travel news and party pictures. Websites such as LinkedIn provide users with the tools they need to advertise their unique strengths and abilities to a massive audience of friends, fellow job seekers, headhunters and business owners. Using LinkedIn’s powerful networking tools, individuals can quickly and easily establish communication with professionals in their preferred industry, allowing them to gain a clear and concise picture of the employment outlook for top companies and desirable positions. If a position opens that you are interested in, you will stand a much better chance of snagging the job if the company is familiar with your credentials before your C.V. and cover letter arrive. They may even offer the position to you directly!
Have an answer to “tell me about yourself!” ready to go. Interviewers always ask it, and you want to be sure to nail this first part of the interview.
Don’t be thrown off by the classic, “What’s your biggest weakness?” One foolproof method: Think of something that you struggle with but that you’re working to improve. For example, maybe you’ve never been strong at public speaking, but over the past few years, you’ve taken on leadership roles and volunteered to run meetings to help you be more comfortable when addressing a crowd.
A surefire way to let your dream job slip through your fingers is to allow yourself to settle for second-best. If you’re committed to propelling yourself into your ideal job, be prepared to hustle for it. Use all available tools at your disposal to make contact with potential employers and exhibit your track record of success while still remaining polite and professional. Whether it’s a job fare, LinkedIn search or online advertisement, learn to see the potential opportunity in all endeavours. Contacts you make through any one of these processes could prove beneficial down the line.
If your degree is in Russian Literature, don’t expect to pass the examinations to become an astronaut. Part of locating and snagging your dream job is creating a realistic path towards success. If an employer sees that you’ve approached the application process as a mature professional instead of a short-sighted, overly idealistic enthusiast, chances are good that you’re going to land an interview. Make companies come to you because of your maturity and potential worth. Not only will you find a position that satisfies you, but you’ll also develop a collection of professional contacts and references that will continue to support you throughout your career.
Get some sleep. This sounds like something your mom would tell you, but there are few things that will throw you off your game like sleep deprivation.