Is now the time to chase your dream job?

Is now the time to chase your dream job?

Some dream of being part of the Facebook product team. Finding new ways to get the global population spending more time on the platform.

Others want to work in a start-up and develop a product all the way from product-market fit through to an amazing IPO.

And there are some who are happy to take a role that allows them to work wherever they are in the world.

Dream jobs vary depending on who is doing the dreaming.

The challenge of course is moving it from a vague dream to an actual reality.  That requires effort.

Where to start with your dream job?

If we listen to the advice of Maria from The Sound of Music, "Let's start at the very beginning.  A very good place to start" and the very beginning when it comes to your dream job is deciding what that dream job actually looks like.

What can you actually write down that describes what you'll be doing in your dream job?  Let's ask some questions:

  • What type of organization is it that you're working in? Is it a start-up, a big social media company, or even a charity?  How big are they?  
  • What industry are you in?  Are you looking to change something in retail, or are you fascinated with aviation and want to find a role that involves airplanes in some way?
  • What type of product will you be managing? Is it consumer-facing, or business-to-business? Could it even be an internally focused product?
  • What responsibilities will you have? Growth? Integrations? Running a team?
  • Where is this role based?  Are you staying where you currently live, or heading to Silicon Valley?  Do you love surfing so much that you want a job that you can do from the beaches of Hawaii?
  • And of course, what do you enjoy doing? Do you love getting out there and talking to potential product users, or are you diving into the detail and analyzing the data to within an inch of its life?

Write down the answers and as you progress through the process you'll likely see a picture emerging.

If you're struggling with the answers to some of these questions, that's not a problem.  You don't need to find the ultimate answer in a night.  

Take time to consider your past experiences and assess when you were happiest, or delivering your best work.  If you think you might be interested in a certain thing, do some research.  If you're not sure about some companies, read what their employees say on Glassdoor.  If you're uncertain about whether working for a charity will pay you enough to meet your commitments, then do some digging around at job adverts and surveys to see what they're paying.

The important thing here is to start coming up with the vision, not make any decisions on how you get there.  That comes in the next stage.

Planning for your dream job

You've been through the first stage of this process and now you're thinking 'Great, but how do I get there?".  Now it's time to plan.

Of course, everyone's dream job is different, and everyone's starting point is different, so I'm not able to write out the perfect plan for you here.  Instead, we've got more questions:

  • Are you missing any skills that you'd need in order to fulfil your dream job?  If so, what steps can you take in order to fill in those gaps?
  • Does your dream employer or industry require you to have certain qualifications or experience?  If so, what are the steps you'll to go through in order to get this? Do you need to do more study, or should you be looking to get some work experience in a particular area?
  • How does your dream employer hire people into this role? Do they have an annual intake, or is it just via ad hoc roles?  How can you find out about opportunities they have, or do you need to get your foot in the door a different way?
  • Does your dream job require you to drastically change your personal situation?  For example, are you going to need to move house or move country?  If so, what steps do you need to go through in order to address this change?  For example, what is the cost of living like where your dream is located, or do you need to obtain a visa to go there?

There are obviously many more things you need to consider, but these questions are a start in order to help you identify the key milestones between current you and dream you.

These milestones give you a roadmap towards your dream.  This isn't a one-off exercise, and you should be reviewing your plan as you move on your journey.  Nothing ever stays the same, so keep on top of it.

What if I don't have a dream job?

When I was a child there was only ever one job I wanted to do. I was determined to be a professional soccer player. However, by the time I was nineteen my dream was over, and I haven't had a dream job ever since. And this is absolutely fine.

You don't need a dream job, and can make a very happy life for yourself following your heart and making decisions for the point in your life that you currently are.

An opportunity comes up that means you can pay the bills, look after the family, and learn something new, then go for it.  If it doesn't work out, then there will be other opportunities that you can pivot to.  Not everyone's is driven by a dream.

Of course, it helps if you know where you want to go, as it provides focus, but you shouldn't be following a dream at all costs.  It's OK to go with the flow and find happiness wherever it appears.