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Career Success

How to Get Closer to Your Dream Job And Switch Your Career

Written by Kris McPeak
Educator, Author, Career Change and Work/Life Balance Guru
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You’ve been going to “that job” for many years now. You go to your office, do your projects, have lunch with your colleagues, and take your commute home. How did you get there? Is this actually the dream job you wanted to do back in college when the sky was the limit?

Like many of us, we did the responsible thing by finishing college and getting a job. We’re the people who show up and work. We have the “lunch-pail-roll-up-the-sleeves” work ethic.[1] But we shouldn’t hate it. We should be loving every minute of it, and knowing that our vocation serves our purpose.

According to Business Insider:[2]

The average American spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime. But 87% of Americans have no passion for their jobs. And nearly 60% say their jobs are making them insomniacs.The average American spends more than 100 hours commuting every year. And a quarter of Americans say work is their No. 1 source of stress.

Of the country’s approximately 100 million full-time employees, 51 percent aren’t engaged at work — meaning they feel no real connection to their jobs, and thus they tend to do the bare minimum.[3]

How to Get Closer to Your Dream Job

“It’s too late for me. I’ll never have my dream job.” That’s nonsense. We NEED to pursue our dream job. It’s not easy to switch careers – but it can be done.

1. Visualize Your Dream Job

You can probably Google a plethora of “dream job meditation” or “dream job visualization” recordings that you can download for free. If that’s too much work, then just do this:

Sit in a chair with your eyes closed, and visualize yourself getting into your car (or on the train, or your carpool) and heading to work.


Where are you headed? Where do you park? What are you wearing? Where do you work? Who’s there waiting for you? What time is your first meeting and who is it with?

Do you get the picture? Think of all the pieces that would get incorporated into your Dream Job and really see them. Write down what you see. Keep this handwritten document with you at all times so you can revisit that visualization.

It’s corny, I know…but it will really help you in switching jobs.

2. Determine Your Major Strengths and Skill Sets

This activity can help you clearly identify your strengths and skill sets so you know how to represent them on a functional resume.

If you are going to make a change, potential employers want to know what you can do more so than what you have already done.

Pull out your resume and look at your various positions. You probably have a bullet-point list for each job of your various responsibilities. If that’s the case, start by identifying the skill set you needed to complete each task.

For example:

Let’s say you have been working for ten years as an accountant. You might spend your days working with different clients’ books, preparing reports, and conducting audits. What skills are required to perform those tasks? Self-motivation? Business acumen and interest? Organizational skills? Managing deadlines? All of the above?


From the various jobs on your resume, pinpoint all your skills and then place them into themed groups.

My resume features skills groups such as Management, Supervision, Event Planning, and Budget Management. You can find a guide to ultimate work skills needed for a career change here: The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

Finally, come up with 3 to 5 “career highlights” that can go with these skills. These are the various Feathers in Your Cap that you have initiated or facilitated during your employment that would not have existed without you. Now you’re ready to update that resume!

3. Switch to a Functional (Skills-Based) Resume

If you are truly want to learn how to change career and make the big leap, then you are going to need a resume that, once again, shows what you can do for them. If you are a teacher looking to get out of the classroom but stay in education, you may be looking for an instructional coordinator or librarian position. Your skills should reflect the position that you want rather than your resume reflecting what you had.

I recommend 3/4 to one full page of your Functional Skills. Each skill group is a heading, and you follow it with bullet points of the tasks that back that up. Here’s a look at one of mine:

Communications, Social Media and Technology

  • Proficient in MS Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, Outlook; PC and Mac hardware
  • Create/update web content for marketing efforts in student affairs and advancement
  • Collaborate with graphic designers, writers, and Public Relations departments on marketing efforts
  • Utilization of social media for recruitment, programming, fundraising, and collaboration
  • Facebook, WACUHO Forum, Twitter, LinkedIn

Once you have your Skills and Competencies in place, then take 1/4 to 1/2 page on Career Highlights. These are those outstanding contributions that you made to one of your previous (or current) employers. Like this:


Redesigned Operations for PCC Foundation

  • Create process for scholarship awarding and implement new Academic Works software
  • Oversee Foundation committee structure and provide training documents for new chairpersons
  • Manage grant-awarding process and realignment

Finally, you can list your previous experience in order from most recent or current position to the oldest one. List only the position title, employer, and dates employed. You can follow that with your education, and then list any references at the bottom.

The two previous steps are going to take some time. Don’t expect to be finished in a day. Make sure to share your updated resume with colleagues who support your career change and get their feedback as well.

You can also find tips on How to Switch Careers here: How to Write a Career Change Resume (With Examples)

Now it’s time to get out there and look!

4. Work Your Personal Network

Through your visualization work, you hopefully came up with some places and experiences that feel right for you. So it’s time now to step up and find those opportunities.

Start with your personal network. This would include current Vital Work Friends, colleagues in other industries, and your buddies. Do any of them work in the desired industry of yours? What about their other friends? And those friends’ friends? Make a list of possible connections and invite them to coffee.


A colleague of mine just recently embarked on a “30 Coffees in 30 Days” game plan as a strategy for finding a new job. Working your personal network for contacts can open doors and get you moving in the right direction.

These tips can help improve your networking skills: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

5. Let Your Family Know What You’re Doing and Inform Your References

What’s my dream job? And how can I get support from family and co-workers? You’ll get additional support from your family and your references, especially previous supervisors. You may even want to talk to previous supervisors while you are working your personal network.

Letting them know that you are wanting to make a change and getting their insight can also help you get some direction.

These folks once aided in your professional development and may even have been mentors to you. They know your skills and abilities as well as anyone, so make sure to use them as resources, too.

And obviously, you are notifying your references (and providing an updated resume) about any job applications and pending interviews.

6. An Internship Is Essential

You can switch careers and get closer to your dream job by obtaining an education through a university or college.

Today, the majority of reputable learning institutions have outlets where their students can intern and gain experience. An internship will allow you to build your resume while studying.


7. Set Clear Goals

One of the key reasons why the majority of people drift aimlessly in life is the lack of goals. While failing to set goals can offer some mental support when you fail, it is a huge obstacle to success.

Do you want to learn how to change jobs and land your dream job? Set this goal. Write all your goals down and go through them regularly. Before you can achieve your goals, you’ll have to take action.

When you become the person you want and start doing what you want to do, you’ll naturally have everything you’ve ever dreamt of.

8. Deal With Your Fears

In different places across the world, people live on auto-pilot. They are unconsciously motivated by their biggest fears such as homelessness, starvation, and abandonment.

You need to know how to change your career face your fears to live to the fullest. We don’t live in small groups in the wilderness, but together with millions of people.


There are more industries and organizations in the world like never before. In most cases, the situations that we are afraid of don’t come to pass. And even if they do, they are as worse as we’d imagined.

What’s the worst thing that could happen to you if you want to switch careers? Take your time to think and write them down. With your list, think of how you would act in these situations.

You’ll be surprised at the number of solutions that you’ll come up with to overcome your biggest fears. To conquer fear, you have to define it clearly.

9. You Are Responsible

Your boss, friends, spouse, children, or parents are not responsible for where you are in life. Nobody thinks or feels like you. No one has similar dreams to you. If you aren’t living the life of your dreams, you’ll have to be the one who makes the change.

Don’t expect the government, or your boss to make your life easier. The first step to making life changes is accepting that you are responsible for everything that happens in your life. Even if you aren’t entirely responsible for various circumstances, you are responsible for how you respond.

Knowing that you are responsible for who you are and learning how to switch jobs is one of the best ways to improve your life. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and describe different aspects of your life.


How do you feel about your career, family life, and finances? What can you do to move to the next level? Don’t sugarcoat anything. State everything as it is.

This task will help you gain clarity in different aspects of your life and enable you to achieve all your biggest goals. When you start making changes, take baby steps.

The Bottom Line

Career change is scary. But it can also be incredibly rewarding when you land the gig that has just been waiting for you. And it IS out there. Make the decision and the time…do the work…and reap the benefits.

You’ve got this.

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com


[2]Business Insider: 17 seriously disturbing facts about your job
[3]CBS News: Why So Many Americans Hate Their Job
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