At a recent University of Hartford event, I had the chance to share a vision that we all want to achieve: landing that dream job. A dream job is something we all want, but is it a pipe dream? For those proactive job seekers, it’s closer than you might think.
We are surrounded by plans in our everyday lives: business plans, marketing plans, even plans for the new mall opening up downtown. Despite the commonplace of planning, we rarely create our own plan for our career. However, with any great marketing campaign, sales growth or new building construction, plans are the backbone that lead to that success story. Here’s a look at how to create a plan that will help you land that dream job. I like to use the S.M.A.R.T. approach: Specific, Meaningful, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed.
I gave the audience four words:
You are an expert.
We are all experts in what we do. Whether it’s marketing, accounting or gardening, we have a level of expertise that can be shared and used to help others.
You are an authority.
While those reading this post might agree that they’re experts in a certain area, the evolution to becoming an authority is what makes you stand out. Being an authority means sharing and providing information to others about your expertise. It’s sharing those marketing tips or showing someone how to garden. In my last post, I talked about the origami master sitting on the airplane. Not only was he an expert in origami, but he was an authority in the art, as he was traveling back from judging an origami competition.
By focusing on your area of expertise and elevating yourself to an authority, you become a subject matter expert, which is desirable to organizations looking to fill that void. It also helps you focus on the type of job to go after.
Traditionally, the S.M.A.R.T. approach uses “measurable” as the M, however, while metrics and measures are important in a business plan, I believe ensuring a meaningful career is more aligned with this dream job strategy.
Author and speaker, Jim Collins once said:
“It is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.”
“Meaningful work” means more than your occupation. Your role in society, your role as a parent, sibling, son or daughter, should have meaning as well. It should be meaningful to you, excite you and get you motivated everyday.
To me, a meaningful workplace is one that is philanthropic. The Salesforce Foundation leverages 1% of Salesforce’s technology, 1% of employee time, and 1% of equity to help improve communities around the world. This integrated philanthropic approach is called the 1-1-1 model, and other organizations around the world are adopting it as well.
Determine your action steps to grab that dream job. Oftentimes, it’s not going to fall in your lap; instead, you have to go after it. Networking is key. Determine the steps necessary to get there. For example, once you see a job of interest, find the hiring manager (often listed right on the LinkedIn job posting), and see how you’re connected. You’ll likely have a second or third connection. As Joseph Catrino mentioned during our session, “Reach out to your first connection and ask for an introduction. Never go right to the hiring manager if you don’t know them. Instead, get introduced by a mutual contact.”
For an #IRL approach, find out when your dream job company is attending or holding a conference. Attend the show to meet their team members. Live blog their event and share it with them. Demonstrate your value long before they hire you so their decision to hire you is a no-brainer.
It’s time to get your head out of the clouds and focus. Sure, we can work toward co-staring in the next Leonardo DiCaprio blockbuster (or maybe that’s just me), however, in addition to the job being actionable, it also must be realistic. Ask yourself these questions before you pursue that call to Steven Spielberg.
- Do you have enough experience? Being overqualified will result in boredom, and you might be in over your head if you’re under-qualified.
- How does it impact your work-life balance? Consider how your hours, commute, location, finances, etc. will be impacted.
- Will you enjoy the day to day? While we all have good and bad days, you want that feeling of excitement when you start your day. Interview your future coworkers. Do you get along? If you enjoy writing, will you be writing a lot? Make sure the job taps your interests, and includes people you enjoy everyday.
- Are you willing to make life changes for the job? Consider your deal breakers. It could be relocation, a change in hours, or the amount of travel.
Whether you’re in the market for a job now, or you’re currently employed and open to the idea, consider timing. When do you want to make a move? If you can take the time to plan out your strategy to approaching your dream job, you’ll be more likely to land it.
When I first got into marketing for B2B tech, I took three months to develop my plan and build my online reputation. I wanted to have great content, a good social following, and a clear vision of getting that first job. Once I landed my dream job at Radian6, I kept moving forward. Now my dream job journey continues at Salesforce. This plan works.
Take a look at my presentation slides below for more information on developing your career plan and landing your dream job with content.
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