We all know it. Having a job you dislike can hinder pretty much anything: self-development, happiness, family relations, health, you name it. It’s almost inevitable to feel unaccomplished, futile, hopeless, or even continually upset when your career doesn’t match your passion. After all, you’re investing so much time in work you don’t care about, for purposes you never even contemplate, getting bossed around by people with whom you have nothing in common.
But maybe the thought of finding a career that suits you is the only glimmer of joy in your tiresome, monotonous workdays. Or perhaps you accepted your reality and gave up on looking. Whichever it is, you should know that in today’s digital world your fantasy may be more real than you think. A few hours and a few clicks could get you close to accepting the position you’ve always wanted. These are the first four steps to get you there.
- Narrow your interests
It might sound obvious, but you need to know what you enjoy. If you don’t have a clear idea of what it is you’re looking for, well, you will cluelessly wander here and there, ending up having to say yes to whatever comes at you. But if you do know what you want, it will be much easier to focus your efforts. One of the best ways to narrow your interest is to list them.
List everything that makes you excited to wake up and go to work. Here’s what my list looks like:
- Writing articles
- Doing keyword research
- History research
- Playing guitar and drums
- Translating poems, comics, and other types of content
- Teaching language to children
That’s quite a few things, isn’t it? I could look for positions in each field, but it will be hard to distribute my efforts such that my success rate is higher than average in any one of them. The decision is tough, but sometimes we have to cross out even the things we love. Here’s what my revised list looks like:
- Writing articles
- Doing keyword research
It looks like I enjoy writing more than anything else. Whatever your final list looks like, you now have one area that excites you. The next step is to figure out the kind of environment where you want to work.
Before we do, let’s be clear: a shorter list doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy music or translation anymore. Those are still some of my strongest interests, and I plan on pursuing them in the future. Likewise, just because you’re left with web design doesn’t mean you don’t like graphic design or marketing research. You might even be able to work with all three. But in most cases, we need to pick one and stick to it, especially if we’re getting ready to send out job applications.
- Write a list of values you care about
Having a job you like isn’t enough if your work environment is unbearable. That’s why it’s essential to visualize the kind of place you want to work in. A list of values will help us do that. Here are some of the values I care about the most:
- Meaningful work
Whatever your core values are, having them in mind as you get ready to look for your dream job is most important.
- Look for companies that match your interests and values
You have your passions; you have your values; now all you need is a company to work for!
It’s time to find real places that match your preferences. One way to do that is to browse for jobs in your field and see what companies are currently hiring. For example, I could search for ‘writing positions 2021’ or ‘writing jobs.’ Another way is to browse for job openings in career platforms such as LinkedIn, FlexJobs, and Indeed. Once you find a listed position, you can look up the company.
When you have 10-15 companies that seem like the right fit, head to their websites and read their mission statements, company values, and anything that describes the company’s work culture. Make sure to write down the ones whose values match yours, and there you have a list of companies that specialize in what you love and work by values you espouse.
But beware: just because a company says they’re committed to fostering diversity and creating an inclusive work culture doesn’t mean they practice it. The best way to confirm that they uphold their values is to talk to the people who work there.
- Build relationships with the company’s employees
Now that you know what companies you would like to join, you need to reach out to their employees. This is where professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn come in handy. On LinkedIn, you can look up a company’s employees from its profile. You can send them connection requests with a personalized note that expresses your interest in the company and the work they do. Then, once they are in your network, you can chat with them about the company.
Based on my values, I could ask that person several questions. Do you think that what you do is having a positive effect on people’s lives? Is anyone ever left out of team communications or disrespected? Have you observed unethical or dishonest behavior in the company? How often are you able to implement creative projects?
Everyone has different experiences. The person you talk to does not represent the entire company, so it is best to reach out to more people if possible. If you do it right, you will get a good idea of working there. Not only that, but your new connections might also help you get an interview for the position you so deeply desire. Once that is set up, your fantasy is much closer to becoming reality.
Let us know how these steps have helped you find your dream career or finding your passion and purpose!