HELP! I HAVEN’T FOUND MY DREAM JOB
Floating around in a career that doesn’t make your heart sing? Here’s how to get a job you love
It’s a question most of us are asked as soon as we rst put on a school uniform. ‘So, what do you want to be when you grow up ’ Although your ve-year-old self might have been convinced you were going to be a doctor artist chocolate taster, it’s highly likely that by the time you were ready to join the working world, your ideas had changed.
While some people remain unwavering about their career goals (if you still want to be a chocolate taster, who could blame you ), for many, the dream jobs they imagined as children have evaporated into confusion and uncertainty. But not having your dream job shouldn’t be a source of stress.
ncertainty can lead to positive experiences and actually make your career path more interesting, says psychologist Alison Hill.
‘Feeling stuck or uncertain about what’s next is hard,’ she says. ‘But it also allows you the opportunity to explore possibilities you may not have previously considered. Whether it’s making the shi from studying to a work environment, or nding a job that’s a better t for you, being unsure of what you want to do career-wise means it’s time to dial up your curiosity – not only about what roles might be available, but about what you’re looking for in a workplace culture and environment.
‘ obs are more than just the tasks that you do; identifying the environment you thrive in is just as important.’
Amy James, a nurse, saw how spending time in career limbo could actually bring long-term bene ts.
‘A er school I started a Bachelor of Education at university,’ she says. ‘But I didn’t enjoy it at all. I struggled through a year, nishing in the middle to bottom of all my classes, and became so disheartened I just stopped going. I was a bit awkward when people asked why I’d dropped out; I told them I’d put it on hold but in reality I’d just given up. To earn some money I started working for a legal rm, ling court documents and serving legal notices,’ she says. ‘Then I worked for my dad’s business, which was really getting paid to do not much at all. I was heading towards 3 without any quali cations. So I decided to do something totally di erent, and chose to study nursing. I loved it. I’m so glad I didn’t do it straight out of school – if I had, I guarantee I wouldn’t be in nursing now. It’s too confronting for a rst job. ou need some common sense. Nursing is about people rst and medical knowledge second. Because I had some life and work experience, I was successful in applying for my student placements and my rst nursing job. I’m so happy now. I love my job, my patients and I have job satisfaction.’
Amy is proof that initially struggling to nd your dream job can help you learn more about yourself while you’re searching. Through her experiences she learnt that working with people, being surrounded by a good team and feeling like she’s making a di erence to people’s lives is what drives her. A er discovering this, she was able to choose a job that matched these traits.
‘Every experience contributes to our career, even if these experiences primarily help you get clarity on what you really don’t like doing,’ says Alison. ‘Taking a winding path to ultimately nd your dream job can be a smart move, not only because of what you learn from the jobs themselves, but also because of the people you meet and connect with along the way. Being open, having a curious mind, saying “yes” to opportunities and backing yourself with new projects can all help you nd the path that’s right for you.’
But the discovery of your dream role probably won’t happen overnight.
Michelle Gibbings, a career expert, suggests putting pen to paper to gure out what really matters to you. ‘Ask yourself what your ideal role might comprise of,’ she says. ‘Things to consider: Where will I be based Will it be full- or part-time What would I like to get paid Do I need to work exibly Do I want to travel with my work Would this role add to my CV ut your answers in order of priority. Remember there’s o en a trade-o involved. Would you rather work part-time so you have exibility Sometimes you might be willing to accept less pay in the short-term because you know the role will look good on your CV, and accelerate your career in the long-term. Think about the skills you have and how you can put them to use.’ Chances are you’re way more skilled than you realise.
‘Give yourself some credit,’ says Janine Garner, CEO of a networking group. ‘ ou probably have lots of transferable skills from parttime jobs, voluntary work or your academic achievements that you can use to your advantage when applying to di erent jobs. Think about your interpersonal skills – do you relate well to others Are you good at assisting others Do you meet all deadlines Are you good at planning projects, and managing time e ciently Have you ever managed and supervised others or delegated tasks If yes, then you have leadership skills.’
Once you’ve listed your skills and what’s important for you, hone in on certain roles.