Need some career planning guidance? Read our guide to discovering your passion in life and landing your dream job in 2023.
It’s a brand new year – the start of January is an exciting time for renewal and opportunity for some of us. However, you may already be tired of new year’s resolutions and the pressure to become an entirely different person in 2023.
That’s why we’re leaving behind the unachievable expectation that we should change our whole personalities this year. Instead, we’re focusing on the more achievable sentiment of “new year, new career”.
If you already love your job, perhaps this article isn’t for you. However, a 2021 survey in the US found that just 7% of employees are in their dream careers. That leaves us with a whopping 93% of Americans looking for greener pastures.
Similarly, a study by Le Cordon Bleu found that over half of British residents dream of changing careers – meaning a large proportion of brits also do not have their dream jobs.
So, it looks like most people might appreciate some career advice. More specifically, advice on how to find their dream jobs this year.
We’ll discuss the notion of career success and what that could mean for you, how to find a job that fits in with your strengths, interests and hopes for the future, and steps you can take to make that dream a reality.
What does career success mean to you?
Most people want to be successful. However, success is somewhat subjective. Not everyone is interested in reaching the traditional ideals of career success, e.g. working your way high up the corporate ladder and securing a very large salary. It’s worth being honest with yourself – when you think about being successful, what comes to mind?
Below, we’ll talk about some of the different ways you can be successful in your career. There’s no right or wrong way to feel, but hopefully, figuring out what success looks like to you will aid you in figuring out your perfect job.
Striking the right work-life balance
Have you ever asked yourself the question: do I work to live or live to work? The distinction between the two is notable. While “working to live” is about choosing a career that enables you to live the life you desire, “living to work” involves centring your entire life around your career.
This is where work-life balance comes in. Ideally, you want your job to complement your life. For example, someone who wants to spend their evenings exploring a city might be suited to fast-paced office life in London, whereas someone who wants to live at a slower pace and spend lots of time with family might enjoy working in a small team locally, or even remotely.
You might also consider whether you’re happy working from 9-5 or if you would prefer a more flexible approach. If you’re a night owl, night shifts might be perfect for you. Essentially, part of achieving career success is about reaching the perfect work-life balance for you and your circumstances.
Reaching your desired salary
Let’s face it – money is often the primary reason that we work. However, the amount of money that each person needs to feel satisfied varies greatly. While some people may only feel successful once they’ve reached a specific salary goal, others simply want to make enough money to live comfortably.
So, it’s time to ask yourself, how much money do I need in order to be happy? If you’re seeking a lavish lifestyle, your career plans will need to include a large pay packet. If, however, money doesn’t matter quite as much to you, you may not need to factor in your salary needs when pursuing a career.
Achieving your professional goals
If you’re a career-motivated person, you may have some professional life goals that you hope to achieve. This can definitely play a part in your career planning and ultimately, your job choices.
Some examples of professional goals include
- Starting a business
- Learning to code
- Gaining an industry certification
- Becoming a confident public speaker.
If you haven’t decided on a career path, it might be worth thinking about your professional goals (if you have any at all) and seeing if they can help guide you. Our Essential Skills for Your Career Development course by the University of Leeds and Institute of Coding might help you come up with some goals if you’re interested.
Finding your purpose in life
Philosophers, scientists and religious leaders have debated the purpose of life throughout all of history – but this concept might just help you discover what success means to you. There are plenty of questions to ask yourself here. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What do you have to offer the world? What inspires you?
Discovering your very own purpose might guide you towards the right career path. For example, your life purpose could be to help people, entertain, protect wildlife, or advance technology. The choice is truly yours! If you feel you are fulfilling your life’s purpose, you will almost certainly feel successful.
Does everyone have a ‘dream job’?
The truth is, not everyone has a dream job, and that’s okay. However, despite not having a dream job, you can still benefit from working in a career that closely aligns with your wants, needs, life circumstances and passions. So, if you’re unsatisfied with your current job in any way, our advice and tips in this article can still help you.
How to find the perfect job for you
It’s time to try some thinking exercises. Hopefully, asking yourself some of these questions will help you to understand yourself better and realise which career path is right for you. Let’s get into it.
Think back to your childhood dreams
What did you want to be as a child? Maybe a fairy, astronaut or pop star? Reflecting on your childhood wants and dreams can be a great way to get back in touch with yourself.
While it’s likely that your ambitions have completely changed, you might still be able to learn something from your younger self. For example, if you wanted to be a singing and dancing superstar, maybe you could revisit the idea of working in the entertainment industry.
What are your interests and passions?
Considering your interests and passions may be the most obvious advice for trying to figure out your dream career – but for good reason. Too many people ignore what they’re passionate about when career planning because their dream doesn’t feel viable. However, it’s important to have at least some interest in the work that you do in order to feel satisfied.
That being said, you don’t necessarily have to make your biggest passion your job. Some people prefer to keep their greatest hobbies separate from work so they don’t remove the fun element.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This question is good to ask yourself in conjunction with the one above. It can be helpful to consider what you’re passionate about when figuring out your ideal career, but it’s also necessary to consider your strengths and weaknesses.
That’s not to say that you have to be good at something to enjoy it. However, with work as a means of making money, you’re unlikely to have a sustainable career if you don’t have both interest and potential talent in your chosen path.
Additionally, thinking about your weaknesses can help you rule out certain careers. Can’t sit still? Avoid office jobs. Shy and introverted? Avoid customer or client-facing jobs.
Reflect on previous job experiences
Not all of us are starting from scratch when it comes to our careers. So, what can we learn from our past experiences? Think about what you’ve liked and disliked about all of your previous jobs, and also consider what you’ve succeeded and failed at.
Some patterns may emerge, or you may discover things that surprise you. From analysing your past jobs and experiences, you should be able to get closer to understanding what really makes you tick.
Talk to your loved ones
Sometimes, our friends and family know us better than we do. If you think this could be the case for you, why not ask your loved ones what career they think you’d be suited to? They might be able to see strengths and behaviours in you that you’ve never paid attention to.
Of course, try to ask people you really trust in order to get genuine advice. You don’t want to end up pursuing a career that your parents wished they’d had!
Do a trial run
Maybe you have a few ideas about your perfect job already. You just wish there was a way of doing a trial run…
We’ve got the perfect solution. Why not try one of our online courses specifically targeted at introducing you to a new career path? Take a look at our wide range of courses below.
Introductory career courses
- Introduction to Careers in Fashion Design by Bloomsbury
- Prepare for a Software Development Career by FutureLearn
- Pathways to Property: Starting Your Career in Real Estate by the University of Reading and Reading Real Estate Foundation
- Careers in the Veterinary Industry by Learning Lounge
- How to Become a Lawyer by the University of Law
- Start Your Career as a Healthcare Professional: Online Work Related Learning by the University of Leicester
- Becoming a Dentist by the University of Glasgow
- Survive & Thrive as a Creative Freelancer: A Beginner’s Guide by Kingston University London
- Careers in Fashion: Retail Marketing, Merchandising, and Management by Bloomsbury and Fairchild Books
- Study Medicine: Applying for Medical School and Becoming a Medical Student by the University of Glasgow
- How to Become a Police Officer in England and Wales by the University of Law
- How to Open a Restaurant by Swiss Education Group
How to land your dream job
Figuring out your potential dream job is the first part of the equation. The next step is landing it, or, at least, landing a role that places you on the right career path. After all, we can’t expect to get our dream jobs overnight.
1. Research, research, research!
The first and most important thing you need to do is research – you should try to learn everything you can about your chosen career path. What qualifications do you need? Do you need experience? Which skills do you need to learn? Your next steps will be dependent on the particular career you’ve chosen, so it’s important to be clued up.
Luckily for you, we’ve done a lot of the research for you. Check out our handy guides for a wide range of careers below.
Career advice articles
- How to become a pharmacist
- How to get into freelancing in the creative industries
- How to become an early years practitioner
- How to become a veterinary nurse
- How to become a content writer
- How to get a job in the fashion industry
- What kind of teacher should I be?
- How to get a job in the beauty industry
- How to become an oncology nurse and support cancer patients
- How to get into the gaming industry
- How to become a successful blogger
- How to get into mental health nursing: Advice from the NHS
2. Upskill and get some experience
Since you’ve put so much thought into your chosen career, there’s a chance that you already have the right skills and experience for the job. Don’t worry if that’s not the case! Everyone has to start from somewhere.
It’s time to sign up for that apprenticeship, apply for that degree, or try online courses designed to help you upskill for career success. In addition, real-life experience in your chosen field is a really key part of developing the right skills and proving to employers that you’re capable.
You could try to get work experience, do some volunteering, or simply practise your specialism, whether that’s writing, gardening, coding or something entirely different.
2. Perfect your CV, cover letter and application skills
Once you’ve got the right skills and experience for your chosen job, it’s time to start applying. It’s crucial that you create a professional, personalised and succinct CV, no matter what job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for something creative or artistic, you’ll also need to perfect your portfolio.
Some jobs may also require you to write a cover letter, answer specific questions, or complete work-related tasks. You can perfect all of these skills in our Work Ready Skills: Job Searches, Writing a CV and Interviewing course by CQ University or our Career Planning Essentials: Unlock Your Future course by the Lulea University of Technology.
3. Master the job interview process
This is related to the previous section, but being good at interviewing is a talent in itself. Nearly every job will require an interview. Sometimes, they will involve employers testing your knowledge and skills in a high-pressure environment, but other times they will be more casual get-to-know-you conversations.
Either way, it’s always good to be prepared. Think about your potential answers beforehand, research the company in great detail, and remember – you’re also trying to figure out whether YOU want to work for THEM, not just the other way around.
4. Start networking
Building a professional network may sound intimidating and unnecessary if you don’t want to work in business, but actually, it can be as simple as talking to other people in your chosen field. Networking can lead to more opportunities and even build your confidence.
For example, an artist might network by commenting on fellow artists’ social media posts and going to art shows. A nurse might network by reaching out to people working in a speciality they’re interested in, shadowing someone, or joining a professional association.
Learn more in our Building Effective Professional Networks and Relationships and Sisterhood Works: How to Build a More Meaningful Network courses.
5. Review your social media accounts
This won’t matter for every single career path, but reviewing your social media accounts can be important on the road to landing your dream job. You don’t want potential employers turning you down because of some old, unsavoury photos or tweets.
That’s why it’s best to keep your social media profiles private unless you use them specifically for work or ensure that they paint you in a positive light.
6. Visualise yourself achieving your goals
In recent years, the idea of manifestation has really taken off, with many health and lifestyle gurus suggesting that anyone can bring good fortune into their life if they manifest it – that is, the act of thinking something into existence.
While the idea of manifestation is somewhat debatable, visualisation has been proven to have positive effects on mindset, behaviour, and even outcomes. Visualisation is the process of creating a visual image in your mind, and studies have shown that it really can work. For example, athletes use visualisation exercises to enhance training, competition results and rehabilitation.
So, why not try some visualisation exercises when you have your dream role in sight? Visualise yourself smashing the interview, imagine receiving a job offer, and picture yourself actually working in the company. After all, seeing is believing, according to some psychologists.
To help get the right mindset and confidence for effective visualisation, our Believe, Build, Become: How to Supercharge your Career course by Allbright might be a great place to start. Designed with women in mind, this in-depth course will help you to realise your true career potential.
Your future awaits…
Now, you’ve got the tools and knowledge to get the ball rolling. The next step is up to you. Whether you have a dream career or not, you’ll likely benefit from having a career that feels aligned with your lifestyle, strengths, passions and goals.
Like it or not, work is a large part of our lives, so why not make the best of it?