You know that feeling on Sunday night. The weekend is coming to a close and you dread work tomorrow. Or, maybe you're just hitting the job market, and the pit in your stomach comes from the lack of compelling job openings out there. It doesn't have to be this way. Make 2016 the year you find your dream job. With these 10 simple steps, you'll be on the path to a fulfilling career. Are you ready?
- Be honest. What really is your idea of a dream job? Not working at all? Well, think again! That's called vacation. A dream job ideally makes you feel rewarded and recognized for your hard work, passion, and skills, and it keeps you challenged, learning, and engaged. A simple definition: a job you look forward to come Monday. As you think about what this looks like for you, consider: What type of people you like to work with. Extroverts or introverts? What type of product or industry excites you? Tech? Nonprofit? And consider the process or day-to-day qualities of the job you're looking for. Do you value downtime after work, or are you looking for a job that's also a hobby? One that will let you travel, or one that gives you more time with your friends and family?
- Think loosely not literally. Don't limit yourself to your major or past experience. Maybe you were a math major, but that experience crunching numbers will help you grow a start-up as a product manager. Or that English reading and writing degree will help you become a journalist. If you worked in accounting, you can use those finance skills to start your own business.
- Do some research. Are you missing something crucial from your résumé? Research online, talk to people, and spend some time brainstorming how you can make yourself ready for your dream job. Maybe it's just a matter of spinning the experience you have. And hey, it can't hurt to pick up a Magazine Publishing For Dummies book like Jennifer Garner's character in 13 Going on 30 if that's what you're trying to break into.
- Invest. Once you figure out how you can make yourself a more attractive candidate for your dream job, get working on it. Take a class, join a professional association, or volunteer or intern in your desired industry.
- Assess the opportunities in front of you. There might be a dream role for you at your current company. You should also take a sober look at your current job if you have one. Is there something you could change about it to make it better? Do you need more support? Ask for it. More recognition? Tell your manager. Help people help make your life better.
- Update your résumé, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts. Make sure they reflect your most recent skills and accomplishments, as well as your passion for your desired field and role.
- Write a draft cover letter. It's always easier to edit and tweak something. So get cracking on a draft letter tailored for your desired job. Once you're ready to apply for a position, you'll be happy you aren't starting from scratch. And this will help you act more quickly. Check out these seven cover letter tips for inspiration.
- Network. With everything ready to go, start asking for referrals. Think about people who work for your dream company, and reach out to them. It's good to be on the radar, even if there isn't a position available right at the moment. Keep an open mind in general and cast a wide net when it comes to industry events, coffee dates, or email pitches.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Once you get an interview, be sure to give it all you got. Research the company. Have examples and experiences to speak to. Try to get in the hiring manager's mind and figure out what the company needs and how you can meet those needs. If this is your dream job, make sure the passion shines through! And of course, nail the basic interview dos and don'ts.
- Stay hungry. Every job can get old, even your dream job. Revisit your goals and what you were looking for in your original job search from time to time. After reflecting on what makes you fulfilled, work with your colleagues to find more ways to make those dreams a reality every day.
Want more help finding your dream job? Take this quiz: What Career Are You Truly Meant For?
Product Credit: Stella McCartney pants, Sandro turtleneck, Miansai cuff, Warby Parker opticals, Adidas Stan Smith sneakers