Just finding a job is hard enough. But finding one you really love — a true passion? Only some of us are lucky enough to discover that in life. But it can be done. If you want to end the less-than-thrilling daily grind and find your true calling, the thing that makes you excited to get out of bed every day, then keep reading for strategies for doing just that.
Many job seekers cast a wide net when on the hunt. That seems reasonable, given that there are certainly times when you need a job — any job — fast. But if you're in search of that truly amazing, glove-fit job, you need to be a little more selective. Instead of just responding to job ads that pop up, sit down for a period of time to make a list of places you'd really love to work and, if the sky were the limit, what you'd really like to do.
Dream big here. Think about companies you love, products you use, people you admire and so on. You don't even need to stick to roles or employers that actually exist. For example, I did this when I was about to graduate college, and I included Pleasant Company, which had already been acquired by Mattel, because I loved American Girl dolls and books when I was little. It's also worth reflecting on what you thought you'd do as a child.
When you respond to vacancies, you're competing against hundreds (or more) of applicants. Often, it can feel like your application is going into a black hole. While you shouldn't stop applying, especially if you need to find a job sooner rather than later, you should also consider alternative methods. One of those is cold emailing. Using your dream-job list as a guide, reach out to places where you'd really like to work, even if they aren't posting vacancies. This can be effective because you won't be competing against other job seekers since there may not actually be a job opening (yet). If your letter is powerful enough, you could just impress someone enough to want to hire you regardless. This can work especially well if you're able to make them aware of a need they may not know they have that you could fill. You also never know — there could be a vacancy tomorrow, and you'll be the first person the employer thinks of.
Career counselors are professionals who help you identify your skills, attributes, strengths and other career indicators. Through interviews, coaching, strengths assessments and other tools, they'll help you figure out the best career direction or directions for you, whether you're a recent graduate preparing to dip your toes in the job market or a seasoned professional looking to change directions.
You probably know that you need to research any job you apply to extensively, especially if you get an interview. This doesn't just matter in terms of impressing the hiring manager and recruiter — it's also an important step for you to determine your fit with the company. So, beyond browsing the website, checking out their social media accounts and reading the latest news about them, delve deeper into the company culture. Peruse your connections on social media to see if you know anybody who works there, even if you don't know them that well, and ask what they can tell you. These contacts might be able to provide you with valuable information, as well as offer tips about landing the role. Ask around in person, too. Somebody may know somebody who knows somebody to talk to.
Take advantage of your interview time to ask plenty of questions, too. This is another good way of determining if you'll really fit in there. (Also, remember that your interviewers want you to ask questions — it demonstrates that you're engaged and enthusiastic.)
Sure, you probably want a paid job immediately. But sometimes, in order to find a career that fits you really well, you'll need to try it out first. That might mean doing an internship or fellowship to get a taste of the work and see if it's something you enjoy. Sometimes, these experiences come with a low salary or stipend, especially in the case of a fellowship, and will look great on your resume.
Alternatively, you might get a side hustle or work on a project in a field your considering. This is a low-stakes way to learn whether this is the right industry for you without either of you investing too much. Volunteering can also be a good way of finding out whether you like the work (and another resume booster).
There are plenty of resources to help you find your true In addition to the books on this list, check out the below recommendations. These books offer explicit career guidance or advice on how to find your true passions and strengths and overcome your own resistance, ultimately helping you uncover what you really want in life.
• Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work by Dave Isay
• Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown
• The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore
• What Color Is Your Parachute? 2015: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles
Keep in mind that there's a wide range of career quizzes out there, some more focused on particular strengths and areas, such as personality tests, than others. There's also a range in terms of quality and price.
One well-respected test is the MAPP (Motivational Appraisal Personal Potential) Career Assessment. This comprehensive evaluation will evaluate your skills, how you work, the kinds of tasks you prefer and more. It will also give you a list of actual careers that might be best for you. Assessment.com, the MAPP makers, note that it has been rigorously tested and deemed reliable by many psychologists. It's free to start, but to receive results you'll have to pay at least $89.95 (there's a higher price for more thorough packages).