Finding a job you love and pursuing it for a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding career is a huge challenge in today’s highly competitive world. However, it is still possible if you follow some basic principles. Here are a few of the most important ones for finding a job you love:
- Define your ideal job and career goal. Too many career/job searches are “reactive” to advertised opportunities with no frame of reference from which to evaluate alternatives. Before you start your career/job search, define your ideal job in terms of industry, government, or non-profit and the position you aspire to. Go ahead, define utopia! Don’t be bashful or set artificial limits on yourself at the beginning. It may help you to think about what type of person you are: introvert vs. extrovert, conservative vs. risk-taker, etc. (a personality test such as Myers-Briggs may give you some insights).
- Select your targets. Within your ideal job description, identify organizations that fit your criteria. Don’t restrict yourself to those which are currently hiring. Select 10-15 organizations as your “targets” and get ready to put a “full court press” on them.
- Customize your approach. Forget the generic resume. Tailor each application and resume to the individual organization you are approaching. Describe why you are interested in specifically joining it and how you think you can help it. Your resume should be as much about the organization as it is about you, and should show you have done your homework. This requires self-reflection as to why you really want to join it and a lot of careful research about the organization’s products, services, ideals, and key people. Send hard copies of your resume to key people within the organization, even if e‑mail is the only requested response. All of these things will help to differentiate you from other candidates.
- Be flexible. Be open to geographic location, starting position, and starting salary. Getting any job with the right organization is much better than just getting a job with any organization. Consider a non-paid internship; it will get you in the door. What is there to lose if you don’t currently have a job?
- Interviewing. Do your homework on the organization and its people, values, and goals before the interview. Listen carefully to the questions, and answer briefly and to the point. Long, rambling answers are an interview killer. Relax! The interviewer has power in this situation but is still a person like you. Ask thoughtful questions about the interviewer’s own goals and what will be expected of you, not just questions which reflect your own job needs or preferences.
- Persistence. Always follow up interviews with thank you letters, again emphasizing your strong desire to join that particular organization. Develop some “duck feathers” (they repel water) to handle any rejections. It doesn’t mean you aren’t worthwhile; you just didn’t fit at this time. Keep following up. Things change. New openings occur. Your “pleasant persistence” and strong continuing desire to join the organization differentiates you and may open up second chances.
Hopefully, after your thorough and well-thought-out job campaign, you land a position with an organization you are excited about joining. Congratulations! Now is a good time to reflect on how you can succeed, even before your first day on the job. How can you again differentiate yourself—just as you did in the job search process—and become an increasingly valuable employee?
Suggestions for this and other practical advice for career success are in subsequent chapters of the book—GET HIRED! grow. lead. live.—which is available in print at amazon.com.