Did your career goals change over this past year? If so, you’re not alone. The pandemic caused a massive rethinking of how and where to work. Whether you’re new to the workforce or you are suddenly rethinking the way you want to work, now is a good time to consider how to land your dream job.
Land your dream job
But you can’t land your dream job until you define it. So, what does a dream job look like to you? Does it require a career change? Or Is it doing the same thing you’re doing now, but with a different schedule, altered responsibilities or a revised chain of command? Write down what you want your days to look like — start times; end times; location; responsibilities and how to gauge success.
From this, create a new list of must-haves; would-likes; and if-possibles. Even writing down a wish list can help define your dream job and increase your chance of landing it.
“A lot of my clients who are working from home have found that their schedules have changed,” says career coach Kyle Elliott. “They work from, say, 8 until 2 and then again from 9 to midnight. They still get everything done. But now it’s really important to pick their kids up from school.”
Make your case
If what you want is going to require some negotiation with your current — or a new — boss, you’ll need to make a case for why it helps the company as well as you. Consider your employer’s needs and whether you can help fulfill them, while also helping yourself. For example, if you want an untraditional schedule, does this give your company the ability to extend its availability to customers? Is that something the company wants or needs? Find a win-win.
“A lot of organizations are working in multiple time zones,” says Jim McCoy, senior vice president of talent solutions at ManpowerGroup. “If you want to start your day earlier or later, that could be okay as long as you optimize around your clients.”
Remote teams are often more productive than those that work in the office, McCoy adds. And, they reduce the need for costly office space. All of those can be compelling arguments for allowing workplace flexibility.
Pick your targets
Of course, if you’re just starting out in the workforce — or know that your current employer will never be able to deliver your idea of a dream job — you’ll need to find a new employer. Why not focus on companies that are known to be accommodating to their employees?
There are many ways to find these firms. Fortune magazine has an annual survey of best companies to work for, for instance. Job-search sites including Glassdoor and Indeed, post employee reviews that rate both companies and CEOs. And you can drill down even further and search for, say, flexible writing jobs; or top construction employers.
Make a list of your target companies.
Now go through your LinkedIn contacts to see if you know anyone at these targeted companies, Elliott suggests. If you do, reach out to that person (or people) and ask if they’d be willing to spend five minutes telling you about what it’s like to work for that particular company and/or whether they can give you any tips on landing a job there.
If you don’t have contacts already working with these companies, consider mining your alumni network, Elliott suggests. Don’t be afraid to cold-call — or cold-message, he adds.
“A lot of people don’t realize how powerful their alumni network can be,” he says. “You can start with something as simple as “Hey, I see we’re both Gators. Would you have a few minutes to talk?”
It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s often effective, Elliott adds. Also keep in mind that you have little to lose. If the person says no, you’re no worse off than you were before. And if you get a “yes,” you may develop a new ally.
Finding current or former employees is one way to start researching a company. But, particularly if you’re looking for a professional level job, you should do more. Read through the company’s annual reports, website “about us” pages, and press releases to get a clearer vision of the company’s mission.
Make sure you understand it and embrace the concepts. If you don’t, you’d be wise to keep looking. After all, there’s no universal definition of a dream job. Your dream job must be a good match for you.
Revise your resume
In the post-pandemic world, your resume should do two things: It should emphasize soft skills, like your ability to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing work environment; communicate effectively even with remote teams; and show results in a variety of circumstances. And, it should be custom-tailored to the company that you’re sending it to, says Elliott.
“With companies going remote first, geography is no longer an issue,” he explains. “That means already competitive job markets are even more so now because the top candidates don’t have to be local.”
Making your resume and cover letter speak to the company’s mission can make you stand out in a crowded field, he says.
Do you have the skills required for the job you want? For those going after a career change or a promotion, you may need to develop or brush up on key skills. Seek out low-cost training programs online or in person, suggests McCoy.
A host of websites, ranging from Udemy to Coursera, offer classes and certificate programs in everything from working with Excel to cyber security. Many community colleges also offer adult learning courses at affordable prices. Since all classes are online and often on-demand, fitting advanced learning into your schedule is easier than ever.
Use side hustles to gain experience
Can’t seem to land the job you want because you don’t have enough experience? Don’t hesitate to use side hustle platforms as a way of gaining the experience you need, Elliott says.
Elliott says he’s a career coach today because of a side hustle he started during college. Specifically, he started out offering to review other people’s resumes for $5. While a formal employer may not have hired him to do this work, individual clients took a chance. In fact, he got so many takers that he kept raising his prices. Eventually, he found himself working 30 hours a week on his side job — and he liked it more than the full-time business development positions that he’d studied to get.
Prepare to zoom
Finally, realize that if you’re applying for remote work — actually, when you’re applying for almost any job right now — initial screening interviews are likely to be done on Zoom. Practice, Elliott advises. Set up your computer camera in a quiet environment; call a friend; and practice.
The people who practice are better at setting up the lighting, positioning themselves squarely in the camera and talking without fidgeting or getting distracted. These are subtle things, but can make a big impression.
Know, too, that Zoom offers some advantages that in-person interviews lack. You can, for instance, write down a handful of talking points that you can subtly refer to during the interview, Elliott says. That ensures you don’t forget things that could make you the best candidate.
“I had a client interview with Amazon,” he says “He had a story that went with each one of [Amazon’s] 12 leadership principals that he could use in the interview.”
Not surprisingly, this candidate got the job.
Originally published 5/18/2021