Career Planning Finding a Job How To Get Your Dream Job By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts and has counseled both students and corporations on hiring practices. She has given hundreds of interviews on the topic for outlets including The New York Times, BBC News, and LinkedIn. Alison founded CareerToolBelt.com and has been an expert in the field for more than 20 years. learn about our editorial policies Updated on November 21, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article Identify Your Dream Job Design Your Job Search Prepare Your Resumes and Cover Letters Get Ready for Interviews Strengthen Your Connections Evaluate Your Progress Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Tempura / Getty Images Only 1 in 10 U.S. employees say that they’re working at their dream job, according to a survey—and 7 in 10 don’t think they’re on track to land that job someday. What does a dream job look like? While everyone will have their own definition of the ideal career, for most, it’s a matter of finding work that fits with your career values. Look for a role that uses your skills, provides a supportive work environment, and allows work-life balance, and you’ve created the perfect recipe for professional happiness. Of course, finding that perfect role can be challenging, to say the least. To set yourself up for success, you’ll need a plan. Key Takeaways Your dream job will use your talents, align with your goals, and fit with your other priorities. Design a job search that incorporates tools like networking, employer social media profiles, and job search sites. Always send thank-you notes to hiring managers, contacts who have given you referrals, and anyone who has helped you with your job search. Identify Your Dream Job You are the only one who can say what a dream job looks like for you. It may be a low-stress gig that pays enough to get by and leaves you with plenty of time for your passions. Or it might be a demanding position doing work for an organization you care about. Your dream job may also change over time. When you’re just starting out, you might have the energy and drive to work 60-hour weeks. Later, you might downshift your career to make room for other pursuits including caregiving, hobbies, or starting your own business. Not sure which job or career is right for you? Start by taking a few free career aptitude tests to gauge your interests and abilities. Then move on to lifestyle questions like: Do you thrive under pressure or wilt in stressful situations? Do you want your job to be your primary focus, or do you have many other priorities and interests?What is your ideal work environment or company culture?Do you want your boss’s job, or would you prefer to stay put or branch out in a different direction entirely? Note If your soul-searching uncovers a new career direction, be prepared to put in some time and effort reskilling yourself for your new path. Design Your Job Search The perfect job (probably) won’t fall into your lap. You will need to design a wide-ranging job search to maximize your efforts. Consider incorporating the following tools: Networking Research shows that 30-40% of hires are made through employee referrals. But even if your network doesn’t provide you with concrete job leads, they’re still an invaluable career resource. Your contacts can set you up with informational interviews, help finetune your resume, offer suggestions about upskilling and reskilling programs, and provide LinkedIn recommendations. Connect With Employers When you picture your dream job, are you working for a specific employer? Follow your target employers on social media and stay up to date on news and trends at these companies. You’ll be the first to know about open positions and gain insight into the company culture. Note Follow founders and C-level executives, as well. You’ll get a sense of the company's goals and the dominant personalities in the organization. Job Search Sites Use niche and general job search sites to find open jobs, manage your applications, and set email alerts. Many also offer salary research, employer reviews, and career advice. Prepare Your Resumes and Cover Letters Yes, it’s resumes and cover letters—plural. Although it’s fine to develop a template that you adapt for each specific role, be sure you customize your documents every time. Hiring managers want candidates who are enthusiastic about their specific open jobs, not just any open role. For each job opportunity, tweak your resume to include: Keywords from the job description Your most relevant work experience, qualifications, and skills Any information that will help your application rise to the top, e.g., an employee referral Get Ready for Interviews You could spend infinite hours preparing for job interviews and succeed only in stressing yourself out. To streamline the process and spare your nerves, focus on the following: Telling a Great Story How will you provide value to the company, solve its problems, and use your skills and experience to make its business better? Write that story and get ready to tell it to hiring managers and prospective colleagues. Practice Answering Interview Questions Look at the standard interview questions as well as any industry- or company-specific queries that are likely to come up. Check Glassdoor—you’ll find common interview questions for many large employers. Note Don’t forget to bring your own interview questions for the hiring manager. Interviews are your chance to determine whether this really is your dream job. Choose Your Outfit Familiarize yourself with the company dress code. You’ll find fewer companies embracing business suits these days, but you may need to pull together some respectable business casual attire to make a good impression. If the company doesn’t have a dress code or is extremely informal, choose an outfit that’s dressier than what employees wear to the office. Make sure your clothing is clean and free from wrinkles, rips, or tears. Remember the Details Bring extra copies of your resume, a portfolio or work samples, and anything else you’ve been asked to bring to the interview. Get directions well ahead of the interview and practice getting to the location. If you’re interviewing via video, make sure you’ve downloaded and tested the software you’re using for the meeting. Strengthen Your Connections Even when interviews don’t lead to job offers, they’re a chance to expand your network. Make a good impression and you’ll be first in line for new opportunities as they appear. To maintain these new connections, always send thank-you notes to hiring managers and anyone else who participates in the interview process. Also send thank-you notes to contacts who offer you referrals, informational interviews, or other assistance during your job search. Note Look for opportunities to help others with their career development. Offer referrals, recommendations, resume assistance, and anything else that will help your connections land their dream jobs and build their careers. Evaluate Your Progress No career path is a straight line. To make sure you’re zigging and zagging in the right direction, review your progress at regular intervals. For example, if you’re actively job searching, check in with yourself every few weeks to see if you’re on track. Are you getting interviews, offers, and positive feedback? If you’re not seeing results, tap your network. Can they offer feedback on your resume, interviewing skills, or approach? You may need to recalibrate your efforts. Above all, don’t give up. Finding your dream job requires more prolonged effort than landing any old job. Be ready to keep trying until you achieve your goals. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) How do I find my dream job with no experience? Early-career job seekers can impress hiring managers by emphasizing non-work experience like volunteering, internships, and community service. Networking, informational interviews, and apprenticeships are also good paths to a dream career. What profession is best for me? To choose a career that’s right for you, take free online career tests, tap college career offices, or consider hiring a career coach. Remember to evaluate potential careers based on your interests, aptitudes, and goals—not on hot jobs lists. Today’s high-growth career may be tomorrow’s occupational disaster. Plus, you’re unlikely to be successful in a career that you can’t stand. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. JobSage. "Only 1 in 10 Americans Is Working Their Dream Job Right Now." Zippia. "25 Incredible Employee Referral Statistics."