Whether they’re studying at university or obtaining practical experience at a company, there are a lot of people working towards chasing their dream careers today. There are also many people who may not be so sure of what they have to do to get there.
Once upon a time, all you needed to do to achieve your career aspirations was demonstrate a keen interest in your chosen industry. Times have changed a lot since then, but ambition hasn’t faded. That means that achieving your goals now requires a lot more effort and a much more colourful CV.
Are you looking to enter a new career? If you’re at a loss as to what to do next, here are the five steps you should take towards securing your dream job.
1. Think hard about what your ‘dream career’ actually is
It’s common for people to enter a career thinking that it’s ideal for them only to discover that, in reality, it’s not really what they expected. Sometimes they haven’t researched the role thoroughly enough, or perhaps they chased a dream they had when they were younger without really thinking it through.
In our recent study, Careers Change Report: are UK professionals looking to change careers?, we found that 30 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds regret their choice of career. Putting more thought into the career you’d like to pursue may save you from dissatisfaction later in life.
Harry Freedman, is the founder and chief executive of career advice website, Career Energy. He said: “It is important to realise that your dream job has to be one which you will enjoy and excel in. The first step is to research your dream job in detail. When you are clear what your dream job entails, look at ads to get an idea of what skills and experience you will need.”
“The world is your oyster, but make sure the oyster you choose is one which contains a pearl,” Harry advises.
2. Make a detailed plan
If thinking about your dream career gets you excited about the future, and you momentarily find yourself with a burst of productivity, you may be tempted to jump in head first when it comes to applying for jobs. However, this may not be such a good idea.
Margaret Buj, interview and job search coach, stressed the importance of planning entry into a new career, rather than diving in at the deep end.
“It is important to know what you want; write down what you want to have, where you want to be, and the goals you want to achieve in the next five years. Not all of your goals can be achieved instantly, so plan for the future – certification in a new skill, saving up to start a business, or setting a goal to begin a job hunt are things you may be able to do over the course of a year.”
3. Be prepared to take risks
Preparing to start a new career – or even considering it – can be a daunting experience. This is especially the case for people who are already several years (or more) down the line in their current career. Fear of change or failure can hold you back, preventing you from chasing your dreams, but this shouldn’t be the case.
Sometimes you need to take a risk or two in order to get to where you want to be. Now, we’re not suggesting you quit your full-time job as a store manager to pursue your childhood dream of becoming a rock star but, while it’s important to remain realistic, it’s equally as important not to let your worries hold you back.
Talking of risks, David Shindler, Learning to Leap coach and author, said: “Every dream career is in the eye of the beholder and your dreams may change shape and direction many times throughout your working life. Although you may have to be patient and pragmatic along the way, don’t stop dreaming and don’t always play safe.”
Margaret also believes that taking risks may eventually lead to a better outcome. “Taking lots of small risks, when added up, may actually be a safer strategy than pursuing just one or two safe options. People don’t like the idea of losing but sometimes taking many risky decisions ends up adding to a fairly safe bet.”
4. Make contacts – they can prove useful
There’s that old saying: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and while this may not please everybody, that doesn’t change the fact that - in most instances - it’s true. Contacts have the ability to open doors. For all you outgoing people out there, this is very good news. For those a little more on the reserved side, now may be the time to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.
Reaching out to the right people can result in one giant step in the right direction. Whether you visit these people in person, drop them an email, or pick up the telephone, you never know where it will get you until you try. And what’s the worst that can happen – they don’t respond? You’ve got nothing to lose!
Margaret shared her experience of flying to LA to enrol onto a video marketing course. She explained how taking this chance “introduced me to people I’d have never met otherwise. It’s pushed me in directions I hadn’t heard of before and it’s also opened up new opportunities for me.”
David reiterated the importance of networking. “Speak to people in your chosen career and related areas; volunteer or get an internship; build your online professional presence to make yourself more visible. This will attract employers like a magnet.”
5. Work hard but don’t neglect everything else
It sounds obvious, but becoming successful in your dream career really does require a huge amount of hard work. If you’re going to make a half-hearted attempt, the harsh reality is, you may as well give up now. You have to be prepared to study hard, work hard, whatever it takes to get where you want to be.
When it comes to skillsets, Harry advises: “Get to know your own skills and understand what is right for you,” in order to make a sensible and realistic choice in career path. He also encourages you to remember that “competition for the best jobs is always strong,” which explains why hard work is so vital.
David emphasised this point, adding: “You get told a degree is a passport to a great career. Now you need so much more because things changed as a result of the recession; an increase in the number of graduates with similar grades and a lack of the right kind of skills demanded by employers.”
Though gaining the right skills to secure your job may be time consuming, it’s important not to neglect other aspects of your life that you enjoy, whether that be meeting friends at the pub, playing your favourite sport on the weekend, or spending time with your family. Hobbies and downtime allow you to revitalise – no-one is capable of working to their best ability around the clock.
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