With that in mind, let's take a look at a few professionals who have attained such career positioning and extrapolate strategies from their experience that you can use to transition from a day job to a dream job as well.
1. Nurture long-term relationships with dream job gatekeepers. It's no doubt difficult to land a dream job through standard applications alone.
However, if you can secure the attention of dream job gatekeepers for even the simplest of reasons, you may be able to unlock an ideal career prospect down the road by nurturing those relationships correctly.
For example, Tom Ingrassia is the CEO of The MotivAct Group (http://www.motivactgroup.com/), which helps professionals achieve their ideal career positioning. Ingrassia sparked his dream career as a student in the 1970s, when he secured an interview with singer Mary Wilson of The Supremes by sending an inquiry backstage at one of her concerts.
Ingrassia says that after nurturing that relationship for nearly 30 years, "my dream came true in 2001 when Wilson offered me a job managing her merchandise business [Mary Wilson Enterprises/Supreme Legacy]. I worked there until 2005, at which time, I started my own business as a motivational speaker and life coach – guiding others to live into their dreams, just as I had lived into mine."
Take away: With the enhanced connectivity afforded through social media, you can send the equivalent of a note backstage to your dream employer with exponentially greater ease. Consider taking the leap of faith by reaching out to those people for whom you would love to work with a tactful reason for a phone chat, cup of coffee or otherwise. Some won't answer and the ones that do probably won't hire you on the spot, but if you continue to build those relationships, it can facilitate amazing results.
2. Carefully curate your personal brand: If you carefully control your personal brand and share your passion, enthusiasm and qualifications with the digital stratosphere, you may be able to establish eye-catching points of difference that prove key in your appointment to the jobs you'd find most fulfilling.
For example, Rachael King started her dream career as the senior community manager at Adobe and is now the national social media manager for Sidecar, a Bay Area transportation startup. King attained her professional positioning with an awesomely unique and engaging Pinterest résumé that earned her attention from outlets like Mashable, CNN Tech and ultimately, Adobe's hiring team.
"When I applied for a job on Adobe's social media and community building consulting team, they weren't hiring outside of the Bay Area and I lived in DC," King says. "But the hiring manager was so impressed by the Pinterest résumé (and the qualifications it contains, I'd like to think), that she agreed to include me in the interview process anyway and I ended up winning the job. Within a few weeks, I had moved across the country to begin work at one of the most prestigious and well-known companies in the world, doing the work I love for Fortune 100 and 500 companies."
Take away: The tools to share your creativity and abilities with the world exist, and if you're savvy enough to take full advantage of them – which may require some work in your free time – you'll often discover unlocking your dream career is easier than imagined.
3. Study the trends. Refining your skills in the most marketable ways possible by studying the themes trending in your field is an incredibly consistent strategy to help professionals secure ideal career positioning.
This is exactly the strategy deployed by Jonathan Ages, who is living the dream as CEO of Blood, Sweat & Cheers (http://www.bloodsweatandcheers.com/national) – a free daily email that helps subscribers discover fun activities to do with friends – after adapting his journalistic chops to the growing email marketing industry.
Ages had previously been working in traditional media when he realized the industry was in a downward spiral. Even networking with his C-level mentors couldn't help him advance because they were fighting for their jobs as well. "So here's what I learned," he says. "To further my career, I had to rely less on others and take control of my own destiny. So I studied trends – a growing email newsletter industry and changing attitude towards fitness – and wrote a business plan. When I finally felt comfortable, I took the plunge. I kissed goodbye to magazines and launched Blood, Sweat & Cheers. And now I finally have my dream job ... building something new that inspires people to be fit, be adventurous and make everyday life more fun."
Take away: It's certainly possible to achieve lofty goals with less current skills but to maximize the likelihood of landing your dream job, study and master the salient trends in your industry so your marketability for dream roles is as broad as possible.
Ben Weiss is the digital marketing strategist for Infusive Solutions – an NYC-based IT staffing firm in the Microsoft Partner Network that specializes in the placement of .NET, SharePoint and SQL Server developers as well as Windows Systems Engineers, DBAs and help desk support professionals in verticals such as legal, finance, fashion and media. Connect with him on Twitter: @InfusiveInc or at Facebook.com/InfusiveInc.