What does your dream job look like?
Most job seekers look for a job that is in line with their education and experience. Unfortunately finding a job this way is getting increasingly difficult. The job market currently demands more flexibility from job seekers.
In order to find a good job these days, it is very important to know in advance what kind of job you are looking for. Being clear but flexible about your ambitions will help you greatly in your quest for a new and better job.
3 Important questions
There are many ways to define your dream job. In this article we will help you define your dream job based on your own distinct strengths and interests. We will answers the following questions:
- What do you want from your job?
- What are your strengths?
- What does the market need?
If you answer these questions, prioritize the answers and look for their point of convergence, you will have a good indication of your dream job. This will enable you to start your job hunt with a sharp focus and a bigger chance of success.
1. What do you want from your job?
Interestingly, most people draw a clear line between work and hobbies. But why would you wait until work is over to do the things you really like? Have you ever wondered what you would do for a living if you had the choice?
Action: Answer the following questions realistically and with an open mind. Think outside the borders of your current job or your logical career path. Don’t overthink your answers and let your thoughts go.
- When was the last time that you enjoyed what you were doing, at work or otherwise?
- What were you doing and why did it make you happy?
- Where do your thoughts go when you should actually work?
- What would your rather do all day? What are you really passionate about?
Action: Now think about your ideal work conditions. How would you like to work? Answer the following questions realistically and with an open mind.
- Physical work, intellectual work or a combination of both?
Do you prefer physical work, intellectual work or do you like a combination of both? All answers are good but if you have a clear preference it will make your job hunt easier and more efficient.
- Self-employed or employee?
The self-employed may enjoy more freedom than employees, but they also have to take care of their own administration and marketing. Employees typically enjoy more peace of mind, a secure income and social securities such as paid holidays.
- Full-time or part-time?
How many hours can and are you willing to work per week? When part-time work is not negotiable, flexible working hours can still be on the table. Be as transparent as possible about your expectations in every stage of your job hunt.
- Home office or elsewhere?
New technologies make working from home easier than ever. What would you prefer? Would you rather work from home, from an office, from a flexible workspace or would you prefer a combination of these workspaces?
- One location or many locations?
Depending on your job you can work at one location, you can work ‘on the road’ or you can work at different locations, e.g. on temporary assignments with different clients. What do you prefer?
- One or more assignments at a time?
Would you rather focus on one specific assignment or do you prefer working on multiple assignments at a time? The first option may bring more peace of mind while the second option may make work (even) more challenging.
- Team work or working on your own?
Some people are better at collaborating than others. That’s OK. It is important however to what you are better at. Are you a team player or do your perform better on your own?
- SMB or multinational?
The working atmosphere at small or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is often more personal than with large companies. As a result you may have a bigger influence on procedures and results if you work in an SMB. Large companies may offer more possibilities to climb up the ladder, but they may have stricter hierarchies and procedures.
- To manage or not to manage?
Do you fancy a management position? Mind that not everyone can or wants to deal with big responsibilities. And as a manager or director you often depend on external factors that are out of your control. This can cause extra work and stress.
Evidently this list with questions about your ideal work conditions is not exhaustive, but answering these questions can help you to determine your ideal work conditions for sure. Think about other relevant choices and write your answers down.
Action: If all went well you now have two lists with keywords regarding the content and the work conditions of your dream job. Since it may be hard to find a job that matches all these conditions, now choose the five conditions that are most important to you.
2. What are your strengths?
Most young children are exceptionally creative. This is because most children are encouraged by their parents, family and friends to show their talents. This encouragement is a confidence boost that stimulates children to improve and show their talents to the world.
At school however we learn how others (can) think about us. We learn about our weaknesses and how to overcome them. Extra classes, extra exercises… It often seems that school puts more emphasis on overcoming your weaknesses than on improving and using our strengths.
In the last few years however the so-called “strengths movement” tries to convince us to focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses. The rationale behind this idea is that it is more rewarding to use and improve your talents than to improve what you are not good at.
‘Now, discover your strengths’, the bestselling book from Marcus Buckingham is a good illustration of the strengths movement. The book is based on a 25-year study of over two million people and it comes with an online Strengthsfinder test that helps you discover your distinct talents and strengths. If you find a job where you need to combine these particular strengths to succeed, your chances of success and joy at work will seriously increase.
Action: Make a list of your strengths. Think about the feedback you get from others. When do you get positive feedback? Probably when you showcase one of your talents. Try to identify and describe your talents as precise and concise as possible.
Optional: Ask your family, friends and (if possible) colleagues to make similar lists of your strengths. The more complete the picture the better you will be able to define the strengths that distinguish you from other job seekers.
Optional: It may take a little bit of extra time and perhaps a minor investment, but try to take a personality test to identify your strengths. The above mentioned book with its Strengthsfinder test is a good start but there are many alternatives.
Action: If you complete the actions above you should have one or more lists with your distinct talents and strengths. Have a good look at these lists and try to find and mark your 5 most distinct talents.
3. What does the market need?
The current job market is quite challenging, but the market is still driven by supply and demand. Follow up with the news and visit job boards to learn which sectors have job openings and what kind of jobs are needed most.
If ‘your’ sector is not doing well, try investigating other sectors that may benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Or if there are many layoffs in your area, try to look out for job openings in nearby areas before other job seekers do.
Also keep a close eye on the shortage occupation lists in your country. You can find the shortage occupation lists for Belgium here. At this moment Belgian employers are particularly looking for nurses, teachers, engineers, technicians and operators.
Action: Find out which sectors can benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Try broadening your scope beyond your own sector and geographical area. Select the five sectors and areas you want to work in.
Defining your dream job
If you did all of the above, you have 3 lists. These lists describe::
- Your 5 most important priorities regarding the content of your ideal job;
- Your 5 most distinct talents;
- The 5 sectors and geographical areas you would like to work in.
Now put these lists together and look for relationships. Focus on your own ambitions and talents and try to match them with the current demands of the job market. Preferably not the other way around. For example, if you just obtained your nursing degree but if you would rather not work full-time in the same hospital, project sourcing or home nursing may be a better fit for you.
Or if you have a degree in engineering or linguistics and if you want more flexibility to obtain a better work-life balance, you can often start as a teacher right away and obtain your teaching degree through evening classes.
Should you consider to take the leap to self-employment, consider whether the market needs your product or service or how you can create that demand. And determine whether you can take care (or have someone to take care) of your administration and marketing. These extra tasks are as important as your actual job!
Time to find your dream job!
In this article we discussed how you can define your dream job by mapping your own strengths and ambitions to the needs of the job market. This step may seem straightforward, but in reality many people don’t take enough time to consider what they really want to do for a living.
In our next article we will share tips to improve your written communication when applying for a job. A good cv, a personal cover letter, a clear e-mail and a healthy web presence can seriously improve your odds of being invited for a job interview.