6 Steps to Your Dream Job

These days the economy can be blamed for many career candidates' foray into the market, however whether or not it’s by choice or circumstance, more people are find themselves changing careers. There are many books, articles and blogs devoted to career change and many professionals who can guide you through the process, but if what you need is an idea of what steps to take, then consider the following a practical how to guide.

Step 1: Self-Analysis

Whether you meditate, make lists, take assessments or get advice from a professional, it’s necessary to understand what the driving force is behind your desire for change. It may be the environment where you work, that you dislike, a boss, a co-worker, the hours, the pay or the commute. It’s critical to identify the causes of the change you desire if you want to be successful in your career transition. It may be that you need to change companies, not careers so the self-analysis should help you determine what change you need to make.

Start off by making a list of the things you despise about your job. Make the list broad and focus on categories like the hours, the lighting, the stress level, the workload and then rank the list beginning with the worst first. Once you have this list completed, it’s time to break down the categories into job tasks. Look at the list and then try and break down each category into the tasks that you perform in your work. This will help you identify what is really “work-related” and what is situational.

Now you have a better idea of what is making you unhappy it is time to make some goals for where you want to be in your career. Focus on identifying goals that will help you achieve a career transition. You know where you are, and what you don’t like to do; now it’s time to focus on what you do want to do. Make another list of the things you enjoy about your work and rank them from 1-10 with one being. Again, try and be broad because you are going to perform the same exercise and break down each item into job tasks.

This exercise should provide you with a list of the job tasks you like to do and the ones that you don’t. It’s not realistic to believe that you will find a job where you don’t do anything you don’t like, but finding a career that doesn’t involve doing all the things you hate is the goal.

Step 2: Goal Setting

With your new-found knowledge, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and set some career goals. It is absolutely mandatory that you write down goals and keep them in front of you daily! Goals that aren’t in writing are only intentions, and we all know about the road paved with good intentions. You don’t need to have a specific career in mind to set goals. You may want to “be in management” or a “start a business,” and although these goals will require further revision it’s important to begin the process.

Specific goals are great. Set short term goals to be achieved in less than a year and long term goals for 3-5 years. Form an action plan on what steps you will take to achieve your goals. If your chosen career requires additional education or certification, then include activities such as finding colleges or programs and applying for financial aid. Make sure to revisit your goals often and celebrate milestones and achievements to keep yourself motivated.

Step 3: Find your Passion

If you know what you love and what career will embrace your passions then you are on your way to achieving a new career. If you don’t know what you want to do, then it’s time to find your passion. What do you love to do? What interests you and makes you want to know more? These are excellent questions to answer to explore ideas and consider what careers will be fulfilling for you.

Step 4: Risk Tolerance

This doesn’t often make it onto career transition guides, but it is a critical aspect of changing careers that has to be taken into consideration. Assessing your tolerance to take risks will help you plan accordingly. The process of changing careers, especially if you are supporting a family or have a mortgage and other debts, comes with a certain amount of risk. If you are not prone to taking risks, a career transition may be very stressful and may not be successful if you move too quickly or avoid taking important steps for fear of failure.

If risk scares you to death, then there are steps you can take that will make transition easier. First, build a safety net for your career transition. This means having a backup plan if things don’t go as smoothly as anticipated. Put away savings to deal with a possible salary decrease or period of unemployment (not a bad idea to do anyway). Rally support from family and friends to keep you motivated and make things less stressful.

This is important to your success. The job you desire may require a great deal of sacrifice of time, money and may even require moving. You need to be prepared to do what it takes to make these changes and if you aren’t a risk taker then it’s going to be harder to make things happen.

Step 5: Preparation

Do your due diligence on your career of choice. Find out about the companies that employ people in the career you are looking at and talk to people who work there. Network and find out what people in the field believe are the best and worst things about what they do. Find out what the career outlook is for your desired position (US Department of Labor is excellent resource for this information).

Identify resources to help you find a new position such as career centers and college placement services. Don’t rely too heavily on online job boards because you will have heavy competition for these positions. Get the word out to everyone you know that you are looking at making a career transition. Get recommendations from colleagues and former employers highlighting your transferrable skills?

Step 6: Take Action

You may not have the resource to leave your current job right away, but there are several things you can do to move towards your goal. Volunteer in the career field where you want to work. Look for internship opportunities and consider joining trade groups and associations that support your chosen field. Enroll in college classes, trade programs or certification courses to obtain any necessary education or certification.

No matter what career path you choose having a written plan to guide you there will be a benefit to helping you get there successfully

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