As people who love what they do, Boly:Welch recruiters are passionate about helping each candidate discover their dream job and strategies to help them get that job, too. However, there is no magic one-size-fits-all answer to the job search. The key to finding your dream job is on the front end – taking time to figure out what that dream actually looks like – then identifying the steps needed to get the job.
Every person, company, and role is different, and yet most people treat them as if they were the same. All too often, we think about jobs in a very narrow way, e.g. an administrative assistant posting on Craigslist is basically the same as one on Indeed, without considering the details of the position. Many people look at a posting and see a title – check, money in the right range – check, close on the qualifications – check, and make a quick decision to send in their generic resume without truly considering if they even want that particular job. If searching for a job like this sounds exhausting and unproductive, that’s because it is.
Really, the right fit in a job is as idiosyncratic as your favorite ice cream flavor. Two people eat a cone of pistachio ice cream: one is enjoying the sun and savoring the nutty flavor while the other is watching their cone melt and feeling cheated. Same ice cream – different tastes. If you don’t know what flavor you like, how will you know what to order?
To figure out your dream job, we suggest starting with these five steps:
1. Know What Motivates You – And Write It Down. Start broadly and think in very global terms about what makes you tick. Consider your current and past roles, what you liked and, almost more significantly, what you didn’t like. What is most important to you? Do you want to work for a mission-driven company? Is money a strong motivator? Who is the best boss you’ve ever had, and what did you like about their style? What type of projects get your creative juices flowing? How did you feel in different work environments: Fulfilled? Stressed out? Happy? Slighted? This can be anything from your preference for a small office environment to how much you love Excel. Make a list. Let it sit, and add to it. This is not a quick process, so don’t rush it. Particularly consider any potential deal-breakers or must-haves in terms of: (1) location/commute, (2) industry, (3) company culture, (4) size of company/potential for growth, (4) salary and benefits, and (5) management style. Circle the most important things on your list, and return to these each time you evaluate a role.
2. Know Your Strengths, Not Just Your Interests. Once you have a clear picture of your preferences, you’ll need an equally clear picture of your strengths – the value you add to a role. People often get stuck at this point in two ways: by seeing their “dream job” as only what they like, or by not truly understanding their strengths. In the first case, your interests are simply what you like to do. For example, I really, really like dogs. However, if I narrowed my job search to animal shelters, I’d restrict myself to a field with little growth potential that doesn’t actually utilize my most important skill – my communication ability. You are not your job. Finding a hobby outside of your work might be a better way to benefit your overall feeling of purpose and contentment because you won’t be burned out by mixing business and pleasure 100% of the time. Instead, try focusing on the strengths you offer an employer. In general, a company truly cares about your interests if they improve what you can offer the organization. I might love dogs, but my true strength is in communication. I’m a people person. I’m also a dog person, but it’s my people skills that have opened up opportunities in current role. If I only focused on my past experience or interests, rather than my strengths, I wouldn’t be a recruiter. Find what you’re good at, something a company needs, and do that because it feels awesome. And if you truly love animals, make sure your office is as dog-friendly as Boly:Welch.
3. Be Picky, and Realistic. Just because you could work at a certain organization or in a role, doesn’t mean you should. Too often, candidates think they are qualified for everything under the sun – and apply to just about everything. We definitely understand the logic here. On the surface, it would seem that applying to more jobs would increase your chances of getting an interview. But, in this case, more isn’t better. Recruiters and hiring managers want to feel that you have a solid perspective on the type of role you’re qualified for and why you want to pursue it. If you’re a Staff Accountant, they’re confused about why you’re applying to be an Executive Assistant, and vice versa. Hiring managers don’t do this to pigeon-hole people, but when candidates take a “throw-spaghetti-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks” approach they come across as being desperate, unaware or don’t seem to care what kind of role they land. If this is your reality, it’s not a good look. Not only does it make you look unfocused, but it’s also unlikely that you are remotely qualified for these roles – let alone among the most qualified – which means you’re wasting everyone’s time.
Your time is valuable. Spend it on the roles you’d actually want to follow through with in the end. Otherwise, what’s the point?
4. Research the Company. Now that you’ve identified your needs and strengths, and you’re being realistic as you apply for various roles, you’ll want to be sure that the company is going to be a fit. If you know what motivates you, you’re on your way to understanding the organizations where you’ll thrive. So, do the research to make sure it’s a culture match! As an added benefit, getting a clear vision of the organizations where you will thrive makes it easier to tailor your job search and networking efforts, and helps in making a good decision when you’re accepting a job offer. If you can’t imagine any particular organization where you’d want to work, start with those within your network—friends, family, places you’ve volunteered, companies that sponsored great events you’ve attended, businesses whose products excite you, the brands that you purchase, organizations on local 100 Best lists or other workplace recognition awards, or the places you follow on social media. Are they hiring? Even if they’re not, by showing interest in a company that is a potential fit, you could end up in one of the 70-80% of jobs that are never posted. On the other hand, if they are hiring, then you’ll be ready to present yourself as the best fit for the role… because you’ll know you are!
5. Do the Legwork. Once you’ve targeted the roles and companies that fit, you can use your personal brand to sell yourself as the company’s dream candidate (for your dream role). Take the time with every application to highlight your value to the company. Many applicants make the mistake of discussing their skills, but don’t address why they want this particular role, or showcase what they would do for the company. Their resumes are jammed with every conceivable bit of experience they have, rather than a curated outline of the skills relevant to this position. Imagine that you are a hiring manager looking over your application materials. Are you excited to meet you-the-candidate? We’ll have more information on cover letters and resumes in our next two blogs, but this is an important step in setting yourself up to find your dream job.
Hopefully, after you’ve taken some time to research and digest these topics, you’ll have a much better sense of your dream job. This is just the first step in finding a job, but it’s probably the most important. If you have questions, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy searching and good luck!