I have a bit of a pic’n’mix career – I do everything from digital marketing for businesses to writing for national magazines, PR and, of course, the blog you’ve stumbled on. Being a freelancer, I’ve applied for a lot of jobs in my life, and I’ve always landed the ones I really want – mainly through taking a really specific approach. So what’s the secret to finding a job you love? Well, there’s no magic formula – but there are definitely things you can do to find the right role.
You really do have the power to create your own dream job
Figure out what you want
Yes, it’s been a lousy economy in the last few years. Yes, earning money and keeping things ticking over is important. It’s all too easy, especially if you have a family to support or bills to pay (or both) to think more about where to find cash than what’s going to make you happy. I’m not blithely unaware that not everyone can afford the privilege of hanging around for a job they love.
BUT that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t figure out what it is you love to do and aim for it. Even if you’re making ends meet, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life of doing something that makes you unhappy. You can’t find your dream job if you have no idea what your dream is, so start dreaming big and trust me, you’ll start seeing opportunities you never could have imagined before.
The targeted approach
I never think the machine gun approach works. Not when you’re pitching your products (hi there blogger, I’ve sent this to a zillion other bloggers and haven’t bothered to even try to disguise that – feature my products) and definitely not when you’re looking for a job. Sending a copied and pasted application to a thousand places is far less likely to be successful than sending a tailored, considered and well-written application to two or three places.
If you’re like me and you have quite a diverse skill set, don’t bombard HR managers and recruiters with things that aren’t relevant. Highlight the skills you have that match the job description and give examples of times that you’ve produced great results using those skills.
Don’t be afraid to stand out
Big yourself up
A lot of people want to appear modest, or just don’t know how great they really are and end up selling themselves short. Don’t lie and say you can do stuff you can’t (it will come back to bite you later) but DO shout about the stuff you can actually do well.
I know it seems counter-intuitive to relentlessly talk about yourself, especially when you’re praising your own skills, but people can’t guess at how good you are, nobody’s going to step in and mention it for you – it’s up to you to showcase why you’re right for the job.
At the interview
It goes without saying that you should look professional and presentable regardless of what you think the work dress code might be. Eye contact is always a good thing, as is a firm handshake (not too firm – don’t crush any fingers) and make sure you take in people’s names so that you don’t have to ask again halfway through.
At a first interview, no matter how tempted you are, I would avoid asking about salary and benefits but make sure you have questions prepared about things you really want to know. This is telling as it will demonstrate what is important to you – company culture, reporting structure, working style etc. it shows you really want to know what it’s like to work there.
A positive attitude can go a really long way
If you really can’t find a job that seems right for you, think outside the box. Whether it’s starting a business with small overheads on the side, or even offering your skills to someone who didn’t know they needed them, you really can make your dream job happen for you. Don’t underestimate the power of just being a friendly, nice person to be around either, and don’t be shy about offering your services. Trust me, I’ve done it time and again and it’s given me a really fulfilling, diverse and rewarding professional life – never a dull day.
Don’t give up at the first rejection or hurdle – it’s an unfortunate by-product of putting yourself out there. Hang in there and keep up your positivity and enthusiasm – you and your dream job will find each other.
Are you happy with your professional life? Have you found your dream job? Share your top tips for jobseekers in the comment box below