Many people fall into their profession either through circumstance (they got a job that turned into a ‘career’ due to the length of time they have worked there) or because of their beliefs (their father was a lawyer, so they studied law at university). But those who actually follow through and chase after their dream career are far and few between.
This could be because many fear the consequences of taking a leap into the unknown (no job security, less money, student debt, etc.) or just lack the attitude and passion needed to follow through with their dreams.
Whatever the reason is for sticking with a career you aren’t happy about, it is important to know that you aren’t stuck in this unfulfilling path forever. In fact, with a little help (either through your own ambition or with the help of a career coach), you can begin your transition into a career that you will actually be happy to go to on Monday morning (yes, really).
Now, we are not saying it’s a piece of cake to land your dream job. What we are saying is, with the right tools you can do amazing things in your professional life. So, without further ado, here are the life skills you need to land your dream career.
This one may feel like an obvious one, but it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. We all experience setbacks that can harbor negative feelings, but having a proactive approach to problems when they arise is a key life skill to have in both your personal and professional life.
“Attitude sells! Another favorite saying you will hear me voice is “80% attitude over 20% aptitude”. Employers will often overlook if you don’t have everything they are looking for when they see someone with a can-do, positive attitude. Employers can train you in certain skills, but they will have a difficult time changing your attitude and will honestly not have the desire to do so,” says career coach Mary Kruger.
Being able to listen to your intuition instead of just doing what you are “meant to do” is another essential ingredient to landing your dream career. Throughout our lives we build a belief system, one that oftentimes works against our gut instinct. While society and our predisposed beliefs tell us to follow a certain career path, in order to pursue your life’s passion, you must take a step back, listen to your intuition and follow your heart.
“I would say intuition is the top skill for landing a dream career. You have to know what your “dream” career is and listening to your inner wisdom is what will lead you in the right direction. What truly resonates with you? What makes your heart sing? If you learn to listen to your own intuitive guidance system, you will be able to identify that dream career that is perfectly matched to you and your gifts,” says career coach Marla Williams.
Once you know your dream target, you have to be well prepared to interview and sell yourself. You need to be able to show how your skills, knowledge, education and mindset qualify you and be able to demonstrate that to hiring manager, explains Marla.
“I spend time with my clients ensuring that their resume shows how they are qualified and then we practice effective answers for the types of questions they may be asked. The more they think through past jobs and what they accomplished and how it relates to the job at hand and prepare answers to demonstrate that, the better prepared they will be and will come across as a confident and qualified. I encourage them to think of answers using the STAR Technique…referred to in another blog).”
“I then do mock interviews with them to help them refine and improve their responses…you can never prepare enough. When they spend this amount of time preparing, they can’t help but nail interviews to help them land their dream career,” Marla says.
Pursuing anything without having a passion for it seems like an obvious backlash, but many people aren’t digging deep enough to really understand what they are passionate about and then working towards obtaining a career in that field. Think about what makes you feel passion and excitement – Is it cooking an amazing meal for your family? Do you love asking questions, learning facts and relaying information? Maybe you are a big fan of the outdoors. Whatever your passion is, look at ways those activities can translate into a career and what you need to make it happen.
“If you’re not passionate about your dream career you won’t be enthusiastic either, which means you can’t really sell yourself authentically. If you can’t be authentic, you’re not believable. A dream career is a job you love, are good at, passionate about, and would like to do long term. It’s not the money or prestige it brings, but the hit you in your heart and soul because you’ll love what you do! If you see a job like that, go for it because the authentic and passionate you will shine through on the interview!” explains career coach Terry DellaVecchia.
A desire to learn new things is another life skill necessary to success. We are meant to be dynamic and ever-changing, so if you don’t have the lust to learn, it is unlikely you will be able to move towards a dream career.
“When we think about the word “lust” we may think about seduction, however the word lust simply means “strong desire.” As you develop in your life and career you must develop a lust to learn,” says career coach Marla J Williams.
Ask yourself these questions:
“These are questions that not only some things an interviewer might ask, but ones you should know the answer to. If you want to land your dream career you have to be engulfed in the industry you desire to be in. Learning is a skill that can be honed over time and used for great advantages. For example, if you want to be a chef, have you joined an professional organization for chefs? Have you received a certification for being a chef? Don’t wait! Develop a lust to learn and get busy. Be prepared for the opportunity when it comes. Every successful person in their field is student who has a lust for learning,” she explains.
“Communicating clearly with a potential employer is imperative. If you are a new immigrant looking for your start in Canada/US and English is not your first language you may want to brush up by taking some English classes. If your accent is very thick, you may want to consider accent reduction classes. Communication may start with a phone call to the employer. Clarity and confidence here will get you an interview. At the interview you want to communicate your value and what you can offer clearly, as well as give practical examples,” Mary says.
“I like to use my formula called SAR – Situation – Action -Result. Whenever you can talk about a strength try this formula out to illustrate with an example.”
She also advises you to pay attention to your body language. “Your body language communicates for you if you are bored, frustrated, happy or angry. Remember to keep open body language and avoid things like crossed arms. Maintain eye contact with the employer in interviews and remember to smile!”
In the wise words of Thomas Jefferson, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.”
It’s important to understand that, in order to move forward in your life and make positive changes that lead you to your dream career, you have to be open to all the possibilities. Being open-minded is a key ingredient to your success in your career and really, in any aspect of your life.
“In pursuing your dream career, it’s important to think outside what you’ve done before or what others have done in terms of how your skills and strengths might be used, which assignments or industries might offer the challenge and work environment you’re looking for. I’ve seen time and time again how important it is to be able to take the wide view with your career vision, then narrow it down by testing out your options,” says career coach Sally Anne Giedrys.
Having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and venture into the unknown can be scary, but it’s an essential ingredient in your career success.
“Especially for those choosing nontraditional careers, starting a business or changing careers, pursuing the career you dream of can be an exercise in courage. Courage to step out into a new venue, to try new on new roles, knock on doors and go after your dream. Not only will stretching your courage muscles improve your odds of landing a dream job, it can be an invaluable way to expand professional opportunities and improve life satisfaction overall. There is a lot of truth to the adage that “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” Developing a comfort level with uncertainty and risk – and taking brave action anyway – is a great way to get past fears that may be keeping you from your dream job,” says Sally.
“Knowing your strengths as well as where you want and need to grow is a huge benefit in the workplace, where so-called “soft skills” are just as important as technical skill or subject matter expertise. Self-awareness helps you determine what is sustainable for you, what your definition of success looks like and where work fits into your overall life. It’s also a valuable tool in assessing potential job opportunities from a grounded and aligned position. Self-awareness also comes into play if your dream career involves any level of managing people. A self-aware leader is a smart, sustainable leader,” explains Sally.
“Negotiation skills come in handy when you have been offered the job and you want to negotiate your salary. This is the best time to negotiate as the employer has spent considerable time in the recruitment process and is now ready to make you an offer. To negotiate successfully you want to know your worth, do your research and have some items in mind (both tangible and non-tangible) to negotiate with. Many of my clients have benefited with larger starting salaries, more vacation time and other perks by learning the skill of salary negotiation through working with me,” says career coach Mary Kruger.
Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and LinkedIn.