Via Goalcast : 4 Steps to Finding a Dream Job that Actually Makes You Happy
If doing what you love every day while getting paid for it is the ultimate career dream, then why do so many of us give up on that dream when we become adults?
Some may say that work is work, and that getting your dream job is just that, a pipe dream, but I have to respectfully disagree. If you have the necessary patience, coupled with a bit of persistence, there are steps you can take to get the dream job that you’ve always wanted.
1. Know what you want
It’s not enough to have a general idea of what you want to do. Sure, when you enter a new industry, you might not know enough about it to make a definitive decision about where you want to be in 5, 10, or 20 years. But once you’ve started to familiarize yourself with how a sector works, you need to decide how you will contribute to it so that you can start executing on some sort of plan.
The best place to start is to focus on the things that you think you’re good at.
If you work on developing a skill that you’re already naturally disposed to, it gives you the confidence to keep trying new things, and to make mistakes. That’s the first step to truly mastering something, and to making a successful career out of it.
2. Build relationships with people who do what you want to do
The fastest way to learn something is to talk to 10 experts on the topic. So it follows that the best way to learn about what it takes to build a successful career is to talk to the people who got where you want to be.
There are many people who are happy to take the time and talk to someone who asks for their help, especially if they’re just a few years ahead of you and remember what it was like to be in your shoes.
3. Provide value to people while building on your skills
Getting introduced to people who can give you advice is great, but if you want to accelerate your career, you have to continue to provide value to the people who have helped you on your path.
But what do people really mean when they say, add value to others?
One example is being open to using your own network for someone else’s benefit. Even if your network isn’t very big yet, you know people with skills or knowledge that someone else does not have. So whenever you meet someone new at an event that you want to maintain a relationship with, think about one or two people in your own network that might be relevant for that person to talk to. Even if it’s simply to share some expertise. Once you make an introduction, that person will see you as a connector and they will be more likely to remember you if you reach out to them asking for help down the line.
A simple way to add value to someone you want to build a relationship with is sharing information, even just an article, about a topic you know they care about. You don’t need to do this all the time, but just keep in touch.
The purpose of adding value is to give something before you ask for something. When you’re ready to switch your career or pursue a sought-after job that fits your skillset, ask for introductions to the leaders in the organization, rather than simply applying on a job board and hoping for a response.
The person on the receiving end is much more likely to make an introduction on your behalf if they trust you’re a thoughtful person who will make a good impression and reflect well on them. If you only met them at an event once and never followed up, then there’s no reason for them to trust you because they don’t have enough information about how you operate.
4. Find a target and pursue it relentlessly
Without step one — knowing what you want — it’s impossible to have the focus and intention required to pursue anything that’s truly worthwhile. Once you know what you want, and you know who the “movers” in the industry are, it becomes much easier to know how to channel your persistence.
The best advice I ever received about how to get your dream job is to show the organization what it will be like to work with you. In other words, show them the output of your work before you’re even hired.
You won’t want to do this for every job you pursue, but the effort is worthwhile for the ones you truly want.
Let’s say that you’ve used every networking trick in the book, and were able to actually get the attention of an important person in the industry who can offer you the job you’ve been dreaming of. Take this as your chance to stand out from everyone else.
Talk to someone in the company and find out what critical problems they’re trying to solve, and try solving one of them. If they’re too complicated to solve quickly, send some insightful suggestions and explain how you would go about solving the issues yourself to prove that you can do it.
The best example I heard of someone doing this was a young person who wanted to get a job at a tech startup he loved. The company needed a sales and business development person to get small businesses to buy their technology.
He spent time researching potential prospects for the startups, and he simply reached out to them and asked if they would ever use the product. He didn’t sell anything, he just wanted to assess whether he could actually get a small business interested.
After getting 10 companies to say they were interested, he went back to the startup and showed them the list of 10 potential clients he could bring them tomorrow. It was enough to prove to the startup that he had the skills to do the job.
Doing what you love is a goal we take for granted as children, but it’s also a dream that many people give up on once they start working and see how competitive any good opportunity really is.
When something is competitive, by definition, the only way to have a shot at it is standing out in some way. So don’t just do what people expect you to do as you progress through your career.
Be brave enough to prove yourself and ask questions when you need it, and eventually someone will listen.
Via Forbes : How To Create A Portable Career
A portable career is one that can be done from anywhere – your living room, your corner coffee shop, or even your favorite hammock in the Caribbean islands.
The term is often associated with military spouses who find themselves moving frequently while attempting to build a meaningful professional life. But a portable career is an option that is open to essentially anyone with a marketable idea and a WiFi connection. If this sounds like an enticing opportunity, here’s how to get started:
Understand the culture. Working independently can be extremely freeing. This is a huge part of the appeal, but it also means that you’ll need to be ridiculously organized, disciplined and motivated. If these words do not exactly define you, there may be ways to bridge the gaps through technology or work partnerships. However, building a customer base involves building trust, which means you need to be reliable.
Know your options. While many portable careers are held by individuals who work as contractors or independents, there are many organizations that welcome remote workers. In fact, some companies – such as WordPress (Automattic) and FlexJobs – do not have offices and instead operate with 100% virtual work forces. If you want the geographic freedom, but with some structure and foundation, this may be an alternative to explore.
Assess your strengths. There are a variety of careers today that can be portable, at least in part, so a helpful initial step is to evaluate your skills, interests and the market to find the intersection (what I call your “Plan A”). You need to be competent so people want to purchase your services, and there needs to be a market for what you’re selling. The more focused you can be in defining your Plan A, the easier it will be to develop your portable career.
Generate options. There are certain trades that lend themselves to portable careers, with roles in the field of technology being the obvious ones such as SEO consultant, web designer or programmer. But even if your talent lies in healthcare, teaching, plumbing or closet organizing, you can still create a portable career. For some fields, you may need to plant yourself in a location for 6 – 12 months versus continuously moving, but that may fit perfectly with what you’re looking for.
Assess feasibility. Once you know your “Plan A”, it’s important to look at the practical matters such as start-up and maintenance costs, or even how you’ll get your snail mail. It may be a dream to be a writer working from Paris, or to set up shop as a life coach living in Costa Rica, but there may be work visas to obtain or certain taxes that need to be paid. Plus, getting a bank account can be challenging as a non-resident and may be required for the basic necessities if you plan to stay in a foreign country for any length of time.
Fill in the gaps. Technology paved the way for many portable careers and is the heart to making several of them work, even if it’s just managing a website to market your business or using an online invoicing system. While some roles require much greater tech aptitude than others, it will be helpful to close any critical gaps before embarking on a full-time portable career. There are many free online training resources such as MOOCs and YouTube videos, plus in-depth virtual instructional and certification programs to explore.
Set your goals. Before you quit your day job or stop your job search, if you plan to create a portable career on your own, start with building a plan for success. This should include monthly sales goals, a detailed strategy for marketing including clearly identifying your target customers, an overview of your services, a pricing model, anticipated expenses, and how you’ll deal with competition, legal challenges and accounting matters.
Dive in. There is a key point at which a business idea becomes a reality and that is usually with the first paying client. You may decide that starting your portable career as a side hustle is a wise choice. This trial run will allow you to test your business idea, identify any costs or skills gaps you’ve missed, and begin to build some client testimonials for marketing.
In today’s market, the sky really is the limit. We no longer need to wait to be chosen to start on the path to our dream. All it takes is a little creativity and planning, and the courage to begin.
Via Forbes : Later In Your Career? How To Make A Career Pivot
This older job seeker wants to make a career pivot:
I work in an industry that is dying (digital marketing, which is both becoming fully automated and being taken inhouse by clients) and am working on a career pivot. I’ve got lots of great skills but, as a woman over 45, feel like I am unemployable. How do I cut through the biases so people see me and my wealth of experience?
This question is really two questions
This job seeker wants to cut through the biases and convey her wealth of experience. These are two separate objectives and need to be handled differently. If your interviewer is biased against you for non-job related reasons, it won’t matter what your qualifications are. Your best strategy to cut through the bias is to find another interviewer – e.g., find another entry point into the company, or meet enough people in the hiring process that this interviewer’s view is neutralized.
If your objective is to convey your wealth of experience, then prepare to interview well. Since you have 20-plus years of experience to choose from, make sure you choose recent, relevant, and tangible examples of results. Don’t give a laundry list of everything you can do and all the qualities you are – this deluge of information will just confuse your interviewer. Point out specifically the skills and attributes of value to the company you are targeting.
Separate out bias from other job search issues so your search is not about bias
It’s important to keep the issues of bias and job search performance separate because to combine the two means you bring bias into every hiring situation . If you let the fear, anxiety, or anger that bias promotes affect you, then you’ll be less motivated to work on your job search – why bother when companies only hire the young? You’ll carry a chip on your shoulder and risk alienating even non-biased interviewers. You may be less likely to look at your own job search actions and how they might be improved.
Unfortunately, bias exists, and you may see reports in the media or hear anecdotal stories that reinforce your fear, anxiety or anger. Make a conscious effort to balance out the negative examples with positive ones. Review your network for people who have recently landed new jobs. Congratulate them on their moves–it’s a great way to network, and you may get a tip you can use for your search. If you can’t find anyone you know, read success stories like this 50-year-old legal professional who found a new career and promotion after a layoff, this rags-to-riches entrepreneur who lost his fortune multiple times before rebuilding again after 60, and this 50-something sales professional who made a change to real estate to shore up her retirement. I also used real estate, albeit international real estate to make a career change after 40.
Play up your natural advantages
Rather than assuming that employers will be biased against your age, play up the natural advantages that come with a longer work history. You have experienced up and down economies. When you talk about your results, make sure to emphasize if you have achieved wins in both growing and contracting markets. You have decades of experience, so there is a proven track record. Outline your career progress, and highlight year-over-year growth and consistency. Finally, you hopefully have a bigger network to choose from. Even if haven’t reconnected in a while, pull out that alumni directory, revisit your resume to remember colleagues at all of your former employers, and review your social media connections.
Be prepared to overcome objections (including your own)
Along with the advantages that experience brings, there are disadvantages to hiring experienced professionals. Check your salary expectations to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market, especially if you are changing careers from a higher-paying to a lower-paying industry. Check your title and level expectations because you may come in with a smaller team or no team, or you may be joining a flatter organization and need to relinquish a management title. Check your attitude because you may be working for someone younger than you, who has less total years of experience but may have more experience in the area you pivot to.
Do not treat your career pivot like a regular job search
A career pivot is not the same as a job search where you stay in the same role and industry. You know fewer people in the field, and fewer people know you. You don’t have exact experience. You don’t have insider expertise. So you already have disadvantages to overcome. Help recruiters and employers help you by telling a coherent career story. Be prepared to answer questions about why you’re pivoting. Many more companies ask for work samples or assign cases to complete. You don’t have a track record in this area, so treat these assignments seriously.
In a recent post, I answered a question from an early career professional also worried about career longevity. It seems that, young or old, knowing how to manage your career is challenging. You can absolutely make a career pivot later in your career. There are even natural advantages inherent in waiting till you have substantive experience. But the best time to make the change is when you’re sure you want to change, whether early, middle or later in your career.
Via Fast Company : How To Get More Comfortable With Change
Every career has a measure of change. Here’s how the change professionals manage it.
Whether you’re working for a promotion or trying to change jobs altogether, every career requires a measure of change. For those craving something new or different in their work lives, the people who manage change for a living can provide a few important insights. Change management professionals work with organizations to help plan, manage, and adapt to change. And some of the very strategies they use to help companies make their way forward through turbulent or uncertain times can apply to those who are working on moving their professional lives forward, too.
RELEASE YOUR ATTACHMENT
If you’re going to truly be open to change and its possibilities, you’ve got to release some of the comfortable ways of doing things. “We start our careers with high hopes and expectations, and we want to conquer the world. What happens too often is that eventually you get comfortable in a process or role or with a piece of technology we master,” says Lior Arussy, CEO and president of international consultancy Strativity Group and author of Next is Now: 5 Steps for Embracing Change – Building a Business that Thrives into the Future. That shifts us into the role of process operator. We stick with what we know and we’re reluctant to do things differently.
The number one challenge in change management is not the adoption of new tools or processes—it’s the assumption that change is a negative judgment on people’s past performance, Arussy says. When people feel threatened in that way, it’s difficult to see other opportunities. If you work in a bank as a cashier, for example, what does it mean when the bank transitions to automated cashiers? In your career, this complacency or attachment to the way things were can make you reluctant to stretch, try new things, and anticipate what the future holds, which can be dangerous to your career, he says.
Instead, work on understanding your “core cause,” or your true purpose in your job. For example, if you work in banking, and believe your core cause is being in charge of compliance with a policy, then you’re going to stick to the process. “And, so, I’m pretty much alienating a lot of people in the process, but maybe not keeping in mind, How do I make it impactful for the bank from a customer’s standpoint? Do I make customers happier or more upset? Do I enable them to reach their goals or, do I restrict them from reaching their goals?” he says.
If you look at your core cause as how to fulfill your responsibilities but do so in a way that helps the organization achieve its goals, too, you’re going to be more flexible in adapting to changes in process and tools, which will help you in your career, as well.
DEFINE THE OUTCOME
Whether you’re working to create change in your career willingly or you’re dealing with the results of a layoff or reorganization, you’ve got to be clear about the outcome you want to achieve, says Julita Haber, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of organizational behavior at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business. Ideally, where do you want to go in your career and how does that match your core values? Just as organizations align their change management strategies with organizational goals, “you want to actually come up with your purpose in life and how the change will help you fulfill your ultimate goals,” she says.
KNOW YOUR STYLE
Your personal leadership style will have an impact on how you navigate change. Haber says there are two types of leaders who typically drive change: the transformational leader and the transactional leader.
The transformational leader is focused on large-scale changes—reorganizing the company or changing the culture. They have big-picture ideas and operate on a grand scale. Transactional leaders take on change in a more methodical and step-by-step manner. Both can be effective, but one may help you feel more adept at managing change than the other. While a transformational leader may be comfortable saying, “I’m done with this career,” and simply move on, the transactional leader will likely want to have some sort of game plan in place, first.
BECOME CHANGE RESILIENT
Whether you just got a huge promotion or were let go in a layoff, change and determining the next best steps can be stressful, says Jessica Lueck, practice manager in career transition and change management at BPI Group, a leadership and talent advisory firm based in Chicago. “There’s a piece of [change management] that’s very technical and it’s about planning and clarity and precision,” Lueck says. “Then, there’s the messy, more organic side of managing change that’s all about the human piece of it, the emotions that come with it,” she says.
Arussy recommends that people work on becoming change resilient, improving the speed and scope in which people adapt to change. “The new skill set that we are recommending for people to start thinking about is how do I build a better change resilience so I can explore, experiment, accelerate change within the organization and within my own life,” he says.
Again, he says this relates to understanding your core cause. “Define yourself through the impact you make on people. Then, you can endure a lot of things,” he says.
Via The New York Times : How to Plan for a Major Career Change
I’m in a job that I really don’t like. I feel like I’m stuck in a rut and not one bit motivated to get out of the bed in the morning. I’m sick of being trapped behind a desk for nearly 50 hours a week. Ideally, I’d love a job that would allow me to travel more.
I was wondering if you have any advice for people mired in a career that they no longer feel inspired by? Should I quit? Is freelancing a good option? Is traveling while working all that it is made out to be? It would be amazing if you could address these questions.
First, I assume you already know that you should probably quit. Work is a major part of life. If your job makes you miserable, and if you can find something you like better, there’s no reason to stay.
Second, you certainly should know that the trick is all in the phrase “if you can find something you like better.” These aggressively vague questions about freelancing and travel suggest you haven’t faced up to that. (Freelancing is good for some people but not for others. Work-related travel might be fabulous if you’re Anthony Bourdain, or it might be a chore if it means endless sales calls to cities that you don’t care about. It really depends.)
What you need to do is spend serious time investigating options, and weighing them against your personality, needs and other factors that only you can really understand.
One route: talk to people who actually do the sorts of jobs you might be interested in — or, rather, listen to them. This may sound suspiciously like “networking,” a concept that many people justifiably find icky. But there are other ways to think about it. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans offer one in their book “Designing Your Life,” which is based on a famously popular class at Stanford University. They instruct students trying to figure out the mystery of a calling to practice “life design prototyping.”
Designers love the prototyping metaphor, but here it boils down to having conversations — essentially interviewing people doing things that interest you to get “the personal story of how that person got to be doing that thing,” and what it’s really like to do it, Mr. Burnett and Mr. Evans write. Remember that you’re there to learn, so don’t launch into a soliloquy about your dream life. You might try to come up with “prototype experiences” — volunteering, shadowing someone for a day, whatever.
Cast a wide net. Plumb your contacts, and their contacts. Even a slight connection is always better than a cold email, but “Designing Your Life” mentions a student who had 200 such conversations, half of which she found through LinkedIn or other online sources. Sure, this is a lot of work and is likely to involve people saying “no.” But deciding what to do with your life is worth the effort.
Moving on From a Mentor
I resigned from an earlier job to pursue a different professional direction. I’d lost the passion I had for my industry and felt it was time to move on.
Then a mentor and former employer of mine offered me a position at a really good company — in the same industry. I decided to take it because I thought it would better position me in the job market over all. I’d learn some great skills, be around smart people and rekindle my interest in the industry.
Fast forward almost a year and I’m ready to leave. It’s a great place, but my interest in the industry is not there. I don’t expect work to be fun, but I expect to want to come to the office. It’s time to move on.
Any words on how to best exit without insulting my mentor, and avoid having the company view me in a negative light?
MICHELLE, SACRAMENTO, CALIF.
It sounds like you made a mistake, but your motives were pure. So I don’t think your mentor, or the company, should feel too insulted or negative about this — or at least, they should get over it quickly. You might offer to stay on longer than the standard two-weeks’ notice to ease the replacement process, but I’m not sure even that is necessary. What’s more important is making sure you strike the right tone.
You’re doing it here: You appreciated the opportunity, liked the company, respect your mentor and all the rest. You believed this would be a great fit. Turns out it wasn’t, but all your positive feelings remain and you are grateful for the opportunity. I would de-emphasize the degree to which you had concluded, well before taking the job, that you wanted out of the industry: This makes it sound like you should have known better. (And maybe you should have. But that’s not the impression to leave.)
Beyond that, just don’t overthink it. People leave jobs all the time, and everyone should understand that you have to do what’s best for you.