Is it realistic to pursue your dream job today?

I recently received an email from Mary who told me, “I identified the job I wanted, my dream job. I went back to school full time, and racked up a lot of debt. By the time I graduated several years later, the economy tanked, and my dream job was no longer hiring. And the jobs that are similar pay so much less than what I was making before. I’m broken hearted and deeply discouraged. How can you encourage people to go after their dream job when it only leads to disappointment?”

Mary’s story makes me sad, and she is not alone. In fact, one of the reasons I am in this business and do what I do, is to help people find their way without becoming another Mary.

Mary’s story is one most people fear will happen to them, isn’t it? So how can you avoid Mary’s experience? Do you have to throw away your dreams, and just take what comes your way? Or do you put everything on hold until the economy turns around, whenever that may be? I don’t think so. If you do your research and careful planning, you can have a job you love and a thriving career, and you can have it now.

Rhonda worked hard to unearth the strengths and skills she loved to use, along with where and how she loved to use them. She also identified her ideal working environment, and the roles she preferred when working. It is from that list that we began to brainstorm different job titles she could go after. Rhonda’s list included Project Manager, Executive Director (for a Non-Profit), and Event Planner/Party Planner. Before Rhonda chose one of these to pursue, she did her research.

First Rhonda met with at least 3 different people who held each title, so 3 Project Managers, 3 Event Planners, 3 Executive Directors. She conducted an informational interview with each one, to find out what their day to day responsibilities were, what the major challenges of the jobs were, and what the job market was like for each of them. She learned that in her area, Event Planners were losing jobs, and struggling to find work. She learned that Executive Directors needed a bit more experience than she currently had, but that she could easily get that experience volunteering.

Next Rhonda did some research online to learn about the salaries associated with each position. She learned that Event Planners didn’t make as much as she needed. She began to rule out the Event Planner idea, and narrowed her research to focus on Project Manager and Executive Director jobs. Both still appealed to her, and after doing more research, she discovered there were more Project Manager jobs available, especially if she pursued certification.

Since Rhonda wanted a change sooner rather than later, she decided to pursue a Project Manager position now, and keep her eyes open for any Executive Director opportunities that might be available later.

Rhonda is now on a new path, one that works for her financially, and provides her with the security and future she desires. She ruled out the options that wouldn’t work for her.

Once you know what types of jobs appeal to you, I encourage you to do your research. Find out as much as you can about the reality of those jobs and careers. Are they growing? Do they pay what you need? Are there certifications or training required? What are the real day to day responsibilities of the job? How hard is it to break into that industry or area? If you research all your options, you will find one that will work for you, now. You can end up like Rhonda, not Mary.

What are some of the aspects of a new job or career that you feel are critical for you to research in advance? I invite you to share them on my blog.


2 comments to Is it realistic to pursue your dream job today?

  • adrian

    I would say you answered your own question:
    Critical Information:
    Vacancies and turnover
    Growth potential in the market (future projections)
    Education (minimum requirements)
    Skills required
    Location of employment
    Work Environment

    Not necessarily in that order, that would depend on your self-assessments of values, needs…

    Mary also perhaps needs to do more networking and find the jobs that are in the “Hidden Job Market”. There are always jobs out there, or you create your own demand!

    Without this information one is not starting on a career path. If you don’t know where the job is heading in 5-10 years, you are just earning money

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Adrian. That’s a great list of things to research up front. While I’m not sure you can always know where the job is heading in 5-10 years, you certainly can get a feel for where it is today, and what the industry trends are. And based on your values and needs, you can determine how important these things are to you.



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