10 Ways To Find Your Dream Job


Let’s be real, finding a job sucks. Whether you’re a high school freshman or a retiree looking for something to do, applying, getting hired for, and starting a new job can be one of the most dreadful experiences. It becomes increasingly more difficult when you’re not even sure what to do.

“Work to become, not to acquire.” — Elbert Hubbard

There is an infinite number of options for careers these days. The question is, which one are we supposed to pick? And if there isn’t one out there, how are we supposed to go out and find our own? While there isn’t a one size fits all formula for finding the perfect job, there is definitely a way to find something that you love doing — and a way to get paid to do it. Here are just a few ways to find the job for you:

1 || Work…and see what works

In her article “How I Figured Out What I Wanted To Do With My Life”, Jennifer Turliuk writes about a crazy figure — 80% of Americans are unhappy with their jobs, where they work, and what they do. This begs the question, why aren’t they trying more things?

“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it.” — Katherine Whitehorn

The truth is, people, try out different jobs all of the time. And sometimes, you can find out what you want just as much from what you don’t want as what you do. The only true way to find out what you love doing is to do it. Go and volunteer somewhere, shadow something, get coffee with someone, shoot the CEO an email, whatever you need to do to get a feel for a job.

Of, if you’re available and into a longer commitment, decide to work at that company/in that field for a year and see what happens. If it doesn’t work out, simply shift gears and move onto the next thing.

2 || Ask other people what they think

This is definitely not the be-all-end-all to finding your dream job, but your friends and family might have stronger insight into what you might want than you do. When I started telling people I wanted to be a pediatrician, they would smile and nod their heads. Why? Because it made sense to them. They could see me in that role, and they liked the idea — just like I did.

Sometimes other people can look into the chaos of your inner dialogue and simply see what you’d excel at. That’s why there are such things as career and life coaches, whose sole job is to help you find yours.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” — Deepak Chopra

Oftentimes we get so stuck in what we’ve been told and in what we’ve experienced that we’re unable to see outside the box. Take a moment to ask other people around you, whether they be your friends and family or a random stranger, what they think you’d be good at. They see you in a different way, and might now about jobs far beyond what you’ve experienced.

3 || Don’t pick the easiest job

A lot of people think that picking the easiest job will make them the happiest. What I’ve found though, is that if you’re a complainer at a difficult job, you’ll be just as much of a complainer at an easy job.

What’s interested in college for me is that you’ll be around chemical engineering, pre-med, and engineering majors taking 18 hours and they barely complain — and then you’ll be around a communications major who spends every spare second talking about how difficult their life is.

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”― Bill Gates

It doesn’t even matter how hard your workload is, it’s about what your attitude is. Sure, you can pick a job that isn’t the hardest of the bunch, but know that it’s unlikely you’ll find your “dream job” going after something with the least amount of responsibility. If you need something to get the bills paid and want to find your dream job on the side, that’s great — but it’s never a good idea to try and simply skate your way through things.

**If you’re a skating instructor or work at an ice skating rink, this is perfectly acceptable.

4 || Enjoy what you have

While this isn’t a direct step at finding the job you’ll want to have for the rest of your life, as they say, it’s important to take a look at what’s in front of you and make the most of it. If you’re a college student working the night shift at a hotel, enjoy the fact that you could be getting paid to sit there and simply do your homework.

“If you haven’t all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don’t have that you wouldn’t want.“— Unknown

If you’re working at a coffee shop, enjoy the people you’re able to see and the simple bits of happiness you’re able to give to people. Whatever you find yourself doing, make the most of it. If you can appreciate the little things, you can appreciate and make the most of the big things as well.

5 || Use what you have

This is where the strategy of “resume embellishment” comes into play. This doesn’t involve lying or falsifying information but providing the whole story. For instance, in high school, I coached 2–6-year-olds in soccer. It just a normal part-time entry-level job, but on my resume it said:

“Responsibilities included basic childcare, leading group activities, keeping children focused and attentive during various activities, and promoting a safe and enjoyable environment for every parent and child attending events.”

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”― Horace Mann

That sounds so much better than “coaching kids”. Not only did that make me look like a much more superior candidate for jobs and internships, but it reminded me of how much I was good at and had enjoyed. Make sure that your resume reflects what you’re good at. And if it comes to it, put down even the smallest of life experiences onto your resume.

This doesn’t mean being dishonest, it just means that you shouldn’t hide what you’ve learned, accomplished, and know how to do. Looking back at that resume excerpt, it seems that I really like the leadership, and the crowd control, and the customer service — not to mention the kids. Remember the pediatrician dream? Makes a little bit more sense now.

6 || Think about what you want to give back

We all have gifts — things that we’re good at and things that we enjoy doing. Think of those things, and see if you can give it to someone. Find a job where you can make a real impact. Oftentimes people don’t enjoy their work because it’s not important. Find what you find to be important — and get a job doing it.

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” — Woodrow Wilson

Find a company that has strong values that you can get behind, and will help you make a bigger impact on the world. And if you can’t find a job in your field like that, make sure to tie in your job with the dream pursuits of volunteering, maybe travel, and more. Even if you can’t find the perfect job, you can add more things to your life that will give you the dream life.

7 || Know you don’t have to uproot everything

In her book, How To Be Everything, Emilie Wapnick writes about the different ways that you can pursue a fulfilling and engaging career in your life. She talks about the four different methods — the Group Hug Approach, the Slash Approach, the Einstein Approach, and the Phoenix Approach.

The Group Hug Approach is having a job that allows you to shift between different responsibilities and interests. This could be like running a company, being an entrepreneur, or any other job that allows you to switch between different passions you may have. The Slash Approach is the same idea, but with side hustles instead of a single career.

“If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Einstein Approach is similar to the Slash Approach, but with side hustles that don’t need to be profitable. (This is based on Albert Einstein’s approach to life — get a job that pays so you have time to do what you love on the side, regardless of whether it pays or not.) And finally, the Phoenix Approach is where you go from job to job, career to career every few years.

While you can uproot everything, finding your dream job doesn’t mean you even have to leave your current employer. It could mean getting a new job in your current company, getting a side hustle, working fewer hours and volunteering more, or a number of other things. You can be drastic if you want, but it’s definitely not the only option.

8 || Make your own dream job

This is a recent idea that isn’t always the most realistic, but there’s never a reason it shouldn’t be taken into consideration. People make their own dream jobs all of the time. Just go listen to an episode of How I Built This from NPR and you’ll see what I mean.

“Better to have spent a life reaching for a dream that never came true, than to have slept through a life that never had a dream.” — Samantha Pickreign

Think of Casey Neistat making millions filming and uploading videos to YouTube, or people selling personally branded merchandise while making minute long clips for TikTok. You can do anything these days. Start a business, a blog, a non-profit. And remember that it doesn’t have to be your only source of income.

If you want to slowly dip your toes in, (which is completely understandable), then start out slow with a mini-business or a few steps towards your dream, all while working your full or part-time job. Need some ideas on how to do this? Try reading “Can’t Find A Dream Job? Create Your Own” by Leo Babauta. It taught me so much about how to come up with my own dream job.

9 || Forget Confucius’ timeless advise

There’s a famous line that people often quote or reference when it comes to finding a “dream job”. However, it’s based on something that is kind of delusional when you think about it, especially in the global economy that we live in today.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” — Confucius

I’m kind of surprised that this wise man said this, and, honestly, I don’t completely understand that. Of course, I understand the idea of not wanting to work and do what you love, but the concept of never having to work has led many people to stop looking altogether.

Even those fancy YouTuber influencers that show up in your ads have to work. They may live at the beach 24/7 and have a private surfing coach, but they still have to work. They still lift a finger every once and a while to get things done, even if they don’t show you that part of the story.

The thing is, no matter what career you choose, you will have to work. Think about some of the most famous people you know — even they work. This leads closely to the final piece of advice I have to offer.

10 || Stop looking for your “dream” job

Life isn’t perfect. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. The best thing we can do is look for something that we can enjoy, and something we don’t mind returning to day after day, whether that be working in an office or globetrotting to your heart’s content.

“Getting paid to sleep … that’s my dream job.” — Unknown

The truth is, the “dream” job would be never having to do anything. It would be having an infinite amount of money and getting to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. But that’s not super realistic, and would probably lead to a hole in the human heart that was designed to earn what you have.

So let’s just stop looking for our dream jobs altogether. Let’s instead look to find meaningful work that pays well, and keeps us wanting to come back and making a positive contribution to the world. You won’t ever find the perfect answer, the perfect job, or be the perfect employee — but we can try for the next best thing.

Good luck,

Anne S.