10 Steps to Finding Your Dream Job

Patty O'Conner Lauritzen

Three of the most important decisions of your life are: whom you love, where you work, and where you live. While work may dictate where you live and finding love can require a bit of luck, landing the right job can be approached somewhat scientifically.

Last summer, I accepted a great position that took me two and half years to find. I interviewed regularly, sometimes weekly, seeking the next step in my career path. In the end, my new job found me, and many people have asked me how that happened.

What I learned along the way seems somewhat obvious to me now, but when you are dredging through the trenches of daily work and family routines, it can be hard to take a few moments to visualize a path to positive change and then follow it. So, here I share with you the 10 steps I followed to find my dream job:

10 Steps to Finding Your Dream Job

1. Categorize your passions.

Career, hobby, sport, and charity work. I fell into the trap of believing that if you did what you loved, you would find success. This rings true to a certain degree, but I am never going to pay the bills as a professional equestrienne. There is a time and a place for everything. Think in percentages: 50% family, 40% job, and 10% hobby. The sentiment that you can’t do everything all the time, but you can do some of it some of the time, can help you find balance.

2. Make a list of desired changes and prioritize it.

Empower yourself with a magic pencil and write down your perfect work/life situation. Then, prioritize the list into what is an incremental improvement, achievable, and a dream. When I was job searching, I was able to distill my list to two incremental improvements: a supportive work environment and an opportunity for advancement.

3. Discover your value.

Once you realize you want something more, find a way to make a contribution.Become a subject matter expert. Education can help tremendously, but if time and tuition are an issue, the Internet and the library are available to everyone. The number of online classes, seminars, tutorials, wikis, articles, and books you can access is limitless. If you “don’t know what you don’t know,” check online academic course catalogs for topics and resource ideas.

4. Explore entrepreneurship.

Resources for starting a new business have never been more plentiful. Kickstarter, Etsy, Shapeways, and other companies are creating opportunities for self-starters everywhere to do almost anything. The Small Business Association is a great resource and many government contracts seek to partner with minority and women-owned companies. Social entrepreneurship and hybrid non-profit/for profit business models are worth investigating. Find a niche and look for the advantages. But, don’t quit your job until your venture’s income can replace your current salary. It means late nights, but it can be worth it.

5. Count your loved ones in.

Remember that your friends and family want you to be happy and can help you change your situation. Think of specific ways your loved ones can step in and step up, then ask for their help. Cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping take a considerable amount of time and energy that can be spent helping you recharge and refocus.

6. Create a coping strategy.

And be kind to yourself. When things get tough, finding the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes is the hardest part. Dealing with difficult circumstances at work can be all consuming. Keep perspective; some of the most challenging personalities can teach you the most, if not simply push you to something better. Create a positive mantra about someone who gives you grief and embrace it when emotions flare. Then divert that energy to figure out what makes you happy and work those activities into your week. Even if you just start small. A healthy coping strategy that includes eating well, exercising, and getting outside can work wonders. Dance with kids in the yard. Every action we take, every minute of the day, is a choice.

7. Be visible. Whether you are actively searching for a job, networking, attending association meetings or joining Google Hangouts, be visible. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of people you admire and study their career paths and accomplishments. Determine how you can position yourself best for the opportunity you desire and make a list to get you there.

8. Have a sanctuary.

Finding a good job is an arduous task: customizing letters, interviewing, researching, and building skill sets. Unplug regularly. During my journey, I gardened. Now, when I enjoy the beautiful display of flowers, I realize that is the antithesis of my mood while I was going through challenging times. It’s taken me awhile to come to terms with associating my garden sanctuary with my work challenges, but one created the need for the other, and now I’m blessed with a lovely yard to enjoy for years to come.

9. Be patient and don’t give up.

I was crestfallen after months of interviewing for jobs that weren’t the right fit. Then, another recruiter contacted me and invited me to interview in another city. When a scheduling conflict arose, I almost cancelled. I was exhausted and told myself it probably wasn’t right for me. In retrospect, I needed a pressure release. Ultimately, pushing my boundaries was the path to positive change. My father always told me, “Don’t say no to a job before it’s been offered to you.” You have to try and you have to show up. But, you don’t have to take the job. It’s your choice.

10. Release the pain. And take a breath. Free yourself of any career-related emotional baggage. Sure, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but don’t carry it around as a chip on your shoulder. My sister is a peace educator who gave me a reassuring perspective: realize that each challenge you face is a stepping-stone to get you where you want to go.

This is your journey. Honor it. And know that we are living in chapters. [Tweet this]

See the most difficult aspect of this transition as a catalyst for your betterment and positive change. Chances are very good that you’ll come out ahead.

Read more in the FRONT PORCH


Landing the right job can be approached somewhat scientifically. Check out these great tips to help with finding your dream job.

This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC.

Patty is a mother, writer, photographer and marketing director who lives by the words, “you can’t do everything all the time, but you can make a hippo cake because your daughter thinks you can.” Attracted to challenges, beautiful design, and the dimensions of color, she enjoys roses, gemstones, fine art, designing children’s clothes, and equestrian dressage. Visiting historical estates or discovering vintage lace is a favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Married to an adventuresome biologist, Patty tests her squeamish tolerances on a regular basis and is often afraid to look in the freezer. She believes in sharing her passions with her children and has a personal mission to teach her daughters cursive so they can read the Constitution. Having stayed home with the kids to now working full-time, she knows the grass is green on both sides.