How to Get the Job You Love
Maybe you are a recent college graduate looking for your first “real” job. Or maybe you’re a few years (or maybe many more) into your career but you just want to find a career or a company that ignites your passion and gives you the opportunity to learn and grow and feel rewarded for a job well done.
According to a recent study, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of American workers are not engaged at work, and another 18 percent are actively disengaged. This means that close to 90 percent of employees come to work and put in their time, but not necessarily their best work or best ideas. That makes me really sad. I’m very fortunate—and blessed—that my full-time job is something that I love, editing for a really good company that has a message that I wholeheartedly endorse and that I want to share with the world. If that weren’t the case, I would have looked for something else long before now.
But my priorities have shifted since I started working there more than a decade ago. I have young children now, and I want to be able to be home with them full-time and to have a work schedule where I can work around my day with them, rather than the reverse. So that’s why I have grabbed this opportunity to blog (about something else I’m totally passionate about—personal finance!) with both hands and am determined to make it work.
If you want to find a job that you look forward to going to every day and that energizes you rather than drains you (though no job is perfect and few days are perfect—so don’t set yourself up for disappointment by having unrealistic expectations, either!), you’re going to need to have that same determination and drive and motivation to succeed. Whatever your situation, the suggestions below will help you to land a job you love.
1. Make finding your dream job a full-time job (or dedicate as much time to it as you can).
If you want to find a great job, you’re going to have to put in the time and effort to make that happen. If you are a recent graduate and not yet employed or if you are in between jobs or are working only part-time, then you should make finding your ideal job your current full-time job—until it happens. The more time you can put into it, the more quickly you are likely to see results.
2. Network! Talk to as many people as you can about your job search.
Now is not the time to be humble or shy! Now is the time to be bold and confident. That doesn’t mean you should brag or be arrogant, of course, but you can’t be afraid to promote yourself. So let all of your friends and family know what kinds of opportunities you are looking for. Post it on social media. Send an email. Text. Call. And ask if anyone knows of anyone in the industry or company that you are interested in and if they could write you a letter of reference, make a quick call on your behalf with an inquiry about potential job openings or leads, or even introduce you to the person they know over lunch or a similar setting. Network with everyone you can as much as you can. Remember Kevin Bacon and the six degrees? Put that principle to good use. You really probably are not very far from where you want to be and landing the job you seek—you just have to find the right person to help you make it happen.
3. Cold call companies directly to find out if they are hiring or if they will be in the future and to ask for an informational interview.
Finding people that you know to help you and put in a good word is the most effective job search method, but if you are not able to find anyone with a connection to the company you want to work for, then find the contact information that you need online and call their HR department or the department you want to work for, if you know, and ask about future hiring and request an informational interview with someone in a position to make hiring decisions or to influence hiring. It’s just possible that during the informational interview they will be won over and offer you a job, even when they don’t have any current openings. Or if not, at the very least you can leave a great impression for the future.
4. Search on job search websites and industry-specific online job boards.
There are a lot of good job search engines. I personally prefer indeed.com. Industry-specific online job boards are another great option. Here are 10 industry-specific job boards worth checking out.
5. Make sure your resume is accurate, up to date, and clean (no grammatical errors or typos!).
When you begin your job hunt, make sure to update your resume so that it is accurate and current. And this should go without saying, but don’t make anything up!
Also make sure that the text is clean. As a professional editor, I understand how easy it is to overlook a typo! But I’m also a little surprised at how many grammar problems and typos I’ve seen in resumes over the years. This is one of the most important documents you will ever create—so take the time to make it as good as possible.
Ask a friend or family member with a good eye for detail to read it over for you and not only help make sure it’s clean but also give you pointers for what you might improve (passive voice you could make active, less important information you could cut, ways to reorganize the information to be more powerful or logical, how you could make the text more persuasive or interesting, and so on). You might also want to hire a professional editor or proofreader to review your resume for you. Upwork and Craigslist are good places to look for help.
6. Include measurable accomplishments on your resume (include concrete numbers and percentages whenever possible).
To help you show the value you would bring to their company, be sure to include (but again, don’t embellish!) numbers and percentages wherever you can. Don’t just say “Helped to reduce overhead and increase profits.” Instead, say “Helped to reduce overhead by 22 percent over two years by contracting with a new shipping vendor. Helped to increase profits by 14 percent last year by introducing a new streamlined product review process that was adopted by my department.”
7. Work on your interpersonal skills as you work to get the job you love.
If there are areas that you feel you could work on to improve your interpersonal skills, work on them! If you are naturally more reserved, for example, make a conscious effort to put yourself outside of your comfort zone so that you will gain experience in those kinds of situations. On the other hand, if you have heard from friends or family that your personality is a little abrasive or your behavior is overall a little overly loud or boisterous, work on toning things down a little. If you haven’t had as much actual in-person interaction as you would like because you do most of your communicating electronically, find ways to reverse this trend.
8. Research companies before you interview so you will be better prepared.
Spend a good amount of time Google-stalking your prospective companies to find out more about them and their place in the industry and company culture and so forth. When I applied for my first job out of college, I spent at least a few hours reviewing the company’s website to learn about them so that I would be well prepared for my upcoming interview. And I think it showed, by the kinds of thoughtful questions I was able to ask and the responses I was able to give. (I got the job. :))
9. Do practice interviews to help you get the job you love.
To prepare for upcoming interviews, ask a friend or family member (or a few of them) to ask you potential interview questions and give you feedback on what you can say or do to improve (for example, to let you know if you have any strange mannerisms, such as tapping your fingers or feet or looking down when you are talking, that you should avoid doing). Even if you don’t get asked many of the same (or any of the same, for that matter) questions as you answer during practice, the most important thing is that the practice can help you be confident preparing and giving answers.
10. Seek an internship (paid or unpaid) or even volunteer with the company you really want to work for.
If there aren’t any immediate openings available, or if you perhaps don’t quite yet have the experience needed to land the job you really want, then ask if there are internship or volunteer opportunities at the place you really want to work. If they don’t currently have an internship program, express your heartfelt and sincere interest, and ask them if they might be willing to start one. And if that isn’t a possibility, then ask if volunteering is an option. I know of at least one case where someone worked as a volunteer for an organization with the hope that she might show her worth in order to be hired for a full-time position, and it worked.
And even if you complete the internship and the company you really wanted to work for long-term still doesn’t have any openings, you will have gained invaluable experience that you can use to boost your resume and find a great position with another company. And in the meantime, you can ask that the company that you interned with keep you in mind for future opportunities.
11. Consider relocating if needed.
If there is a career field you really want to enter or a career path you really want to pursue, you may need to be willing to relocate. If the labor market is a little oversaturated where you are in the industry you work in or just in general, you will have an easier time looking for other opportunities in different communities or even out of state or across the country.
12. Don’t give up.
If you aren’t successful in finding a job that really lights your fire, don’t give up! Set a reminder in your phone to look again in three or six months. Or set a reminder in your phone to look one evening a week, if you’re really serious about making a switch. You can also set up alerts on websites like indeed.com so that you will be notified when new job opportunities come up that meet the criteria you set. Some companies also have their own job search sites, so you might be able to set up email alerts directly on the job search sites of the companies you really want to work for.
13. Consider if you might need to receive more schooling or training to get the job you love.
If you are applying for positions but not being invited for interviews or not getting the job after the interview, you might need to consider if you are getting passed over for other more experienced workers. It might be time to look seriously at increasing your education by going back to school or arranging for other job-related training. There may be online courses available through Lynda.com, Skillshare, Udemy, or Teachable that might help you gain the skills you need. Just try to ensure that whatever money you spend will have a good ROI (return on [time and money] investment).
14. Consider if self-employment might be your best option in order to get the job you love.
When I graduated from college, I had no interest in being self-employed because of the inherent risks of not having a steady paycheck from a relatively stable company. Now, 15 years later, both of the companies I have worked for have had layoffs, and because of that and other experiences I’ve had, I believe that working for a company might be the riskier venture.
If you are in a career field or have the needed skills and training where you can work for yourself, consider if that is a viable option. When you are self-employed, you can have many “employers,” so if one of them drops you, the result isn’t so devastating as it would be if you got laid off and suddenly lost all of your income. Not to mention, there are many other benefits of being self-employed.
You may be working in your career for 20, 30, or 40 years—or more. So take the time to find a job you love. If you don’t currently have a job, find the best one you can for now in order to pay the bills and keep the electricity on, but then keep working in the meantime to find the job you really want. And then find the job you were called to do. Find the job that you love so much that working doesn’t feel like work because you would pay to do what you are instead being paid to do. Those jobs exist. So don’t give up on that dream!
Invitation to Share
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