Finding a job you love is easier if you think about what you enjoy and what’s important to you. You can’t put a price on loving the work you do.
What do you get when you find a job you really love? There’s that genuine feeling of satisfaction in your work, of waking up in the morning and feeling ready and eager to face the day. But if you don’t know what kind of career you want, the prospect of finding the right job for you can be daunting. Read on for some top tips on how to find your dream career.
1. Think about what you already enjoy
Favourite school subjects
What subjects did you love at school? What was exciting and fascinating to you? Think about whether there’s a way to incorporate this in your work. If you loved Art, a career in graphic design or visual marketing might suit you perfectly. Liked English? Think about working in a bookshop, training as a librarian, becoming a journalist or even teaching English as a foreign language. If Maths was your thing, accountancy and finance might be up your street.
Interests outside education
You can also think about what extracurricular activities you enjoy. People who are great at sports might look at becoming a coach or personal trainer. If getting involved in social action and giving back light you up, then think about working for a charity. If you spend all your spare time exploring the digital world, you might make a brilliant IT technician or web developer.
The possibilities are endless. Look at your passions and build ideas from there.
2. Assess your values and priorities
What’s most important to you? This can give you a lot of clues about the kind of environment you’ll thrive in.
What are the things that you feel very strongly about? What are the causes or issues that fire you up and make you want to go out and change the world? What subject can you simply not get enough of learning about? Now think about if there are ways to translate these passions into your future career.
You should also realistically assess the kind of person you are. If you’re a people-person, you might be happiest in a customer service or people-centred environment, whereas very shy or introverted people might be happier with a desk job where most of the work is done solo.
Finally, think about what is most important to you in your work. If you want to earn big money, you probably shouldn’t look at the arts, education or non-profit sectors… but if you want to feel you’re making a difference in your work, these things might be exactly for you! And it’s fine to fall on either side of this line, too. Prioritising your earning potential is totally okay!
3. Ask your friends and family how they see you
Our friends, family and loved ones have an amazing perspective on us that we don’t always have on ourselves. Ask your friends or family what they can see you doing. What do they think you’d be really good at? If they had to close their eyes and imagine you in your perfect job, what would it be?
Be brave and ask – the answers might surprise you and might even inspire something amazing!
4. Use LinkedIn for inspiration
LinkedIn is a brilliant tool for careers inspiration! You can search people by location, by job title, and even by what University they went to. You can also peruse groups, which have themed discussion spaces on all kinds of work-related topics. Spend some time having a look around and, if you see a job title that sparks your interest, don’t be afraid to reach out to that person and ask if they would be willing to give you fifteen minutes of their time on the phone to tell you about their work. Most people love talking about what they do and will be flattered to be asked.
5. Reach out to your school, college or University’s careers service
Many colleges and universities offer careers support for alumni for a number of years after graduating (or occasionally for life!) Reach out by email or phone and you should be able to speak to a careers advisor. They will be sympathetic and understanding, and might offer you all kinds of ideas you hadn’t previously considered.
6. Browse job boards for inspiration
Even if you’re not ready to apply yet, job boards can give you great ideas. There are the general boards such as Indeed, Totaljobs or Reed, and also specific ones for particular industries (charityjob.co.uk for non-profits, jobs.ac.uk for higher education, and so on.) Search by job name, by location, or just pick a random category that appeals to you and scroll through. Spend some time reading job descriptions to learn more about what’s out there and the kinds of skills and qualifications you’ll need to achieve the jobs that interest you.
A word of caution…
Something that surprises a lot of people is that loving something as a hobby doesn’t always translate to loving it as a job. People who love amateur theatre sometimes find that the life of a professional actor sucks all the joy from something they once loved. People who go into academia may find that their passion for science and knowledge can be zapped by the endless struggle for research funding.
Of course, many people do love translating their outside-of-work passions into jobs – but it’s not a sure thing. There’s nothing wrong if you try something out and find it isn’t quite what you hoped! One way to somewhat mitigate this risk is to talk to people doing what you think of as your dream job, and ask them what the worst or most frustrating thing about the role is. You might be surprised!
Finally – don’t give up. There are some dream jobs for you out there, and there are no deadlines for finding them. Try things out, follow your gut instincts, and don’t be afraid to do something different if where you are isn’t the right fit.