How to Get Hired for Your Dream Job

Landing the perfect gig doesn't just happen. You have to be proactive.

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Lindsay Olson
If you're graduating soon, or are a recent graduate, you probably have an idea of a job you'd adore. But getting your dream job doesn't instantly happen; it's something you have to work toward and make happen. Here we ask experts for their advice for finding that dream job:

Ask yourself: What makes you happy? If you don't know what your dream job would be, start reflecting on what it might entail. Elle Kaplan, who left a successful investment banking career after more than 10 years so that she could start Lexion Capital Management, says: "To figure out what your dream job would be, in each position you should ask yourself when you are the happiest and most fulfilled. Then, focus on turning those aspects into your full-time job. As a financial adviser, I have the chance to merge my passion for investing with my goal of empowering clients financially."

Dr. Michael Provitera is a professor, management consultant and author of "Mastering Self-Motivation." He suggests thinking about the things you loved doing as a child. Maybe there were activities you enjoyed doing that might lead you to your dream job. If you, for example, loved drawing and art, a creative role might suit you well. Provitera also suggests thinking about the things you love to do now. If you're a great golfer, he says, you might open up a golf-related business and be happy doing so.

Find support. To find your dream job, you'll need help. John Paul Engel, executive director of Project Be The Change, says he has his dream job with his global consulting firm and nonprofit company. According to Engel, it's important to find a mentor (or two) who has the things you want in life. He suggests you ask them questions to help you find your own path to your dream job, such as:

  • How did you get into this life?
  • What is the most important thing you've learned that has helped you be successful?
  • What can someone like me do to live this life?
  • Engel says you can find a mentor on LinkedIn, or even Google, but "the trick is to pick up the phone. If you don't think they will talk to you, offer them an hour of volunteer work to their favorite charity for every minute they spend with you."

    He suggests getting involved with an association so that you can meet people who will open doors for you. Volunteering can also be a great way to meet people who can help.

    Refine the notion of your dream job. If you won't settle for anything less than your dream job right out of college, you might be disappointed. "Your employment career will be a journey not a final destination. Furthermore, what may be your dream today may change tomorrow. A dream job is a job that is helping you progress toward your dreams, not a perfect fantasy position," says Shawn S. Talley, director of human resources for NovaSom, Inc.

    Consider how the position you're currently in will help you move closer toward your ideal job. Glean every bit of knowledge from a position that you can so that the path to your dream job will be shorter.

    Make it happen. No one will just hand you your dream job. It's up to you to take action to make it happen. "The little decisions that you make everyday [are] what your life becomes," says Engel. What steps can you take toward the job you want?

    Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs.com, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.