You Had Me At Hello -- Finding Your Dream Job

05/07/2010 04:18 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's no secret that a lot of people are unhappy in their jobs. Given all the hours spent at work, wouldn't it be better to do something you enjoy rather than stay in a job where you're bored or unhappy? "Yes, but I need to pay my mortgage and this is no time to change jobs." You'll always have financial obligations and there's no guarantee your current job will be there tomorrow.

Now how do you go about finding that new exciting career that brings you back to life?

1. Use Your Current Job As a Starting Point -- Even if you hate your current job, there might be aspects of it that can lead to your dream job. Let's say you're a brand manager and know you want to make a change. What part of the job do you like best? Is it the packaging, advertising, promotion, or market research? Maybe you decide it's the market research. Do you like the qualitative side or the quantitative side? If you prefer the qualitative side, your new career could be a focus group moderator or someone who runs ideation sessions (this sounds like fun), or generates creative for a naming company, just to list a few. If you like the quantitative more, maybe you should go into risk management, become a go-to-market strategist, or a business consultant. There are many potential paths you can take that will enable you to do the aspect of the job you love most.

2. Listen to What People Say You're Good At -- Your co-workers, family and friends sometimes see you differently than you see yourself. If you hear people saying "oh, you're great at staying in touch" consider opportunities that involve sales and networking. People might say "you're good at giving advice." Then ask yourself is there a teacher, trainer or coach lurking in you?

3. Make a List of What You Like Doing -- Don't filter your responses. Make a laundry list of what gives you joy including things you used to do as a child. As a child, did you like to build things, write stories or perform? In addition to what you like to do in your current job, how do you like to spend your off hours? Next to each item on your laundry list, ask yourself what about the activity gave/gives you joy. See what epiphanies might occur and how you can translate these into your next job.

4. What's Your Personality Telling You? -- Some personalities are suited for certain positions. For example, if you handle rejection well and enjoy constantly meeting new people, sales might be right for you. Knowing who you are is a big part of finding the right career. Would you like to be a big fish in a small pond? If so, you may be cut out to be an entrepreneur (if you're okay taking risks) or take a bigger role in a smaller company. Conversely, you may want the resources and cache of working at a large company and are willing to deal with multiple layers of management. Do you like being in a leadership role or a support position? Do you like working independently or in a team? Do you like project work or positions that require on-going building? It's so important to find something that meshes with your personality. Otherwise, you're a square peg in a round hole.

5. Be Open -- Be open to ideas which can come from anywhere: when you're reading books, newspapers and magazines; watching TV; talking to your family friends and co-workers. What ideas do you spark to? Being open means being inclusive -- every idea is worth considering.

If there are a few career options that you have identified and need to know more about, go on informational interviews. If you're still unclear as to what career suits you best, there are many great books like, What Color is Your Parachute? or career coaches (like us) who can help.

It may be scary at first to think about changing careers, especially if you've been at it for a long time. But isn't it better to face the fears than to stay in a job that's not focused on what you enjoy doing most?


Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success