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The Only Way a Short Term Career Goal Will Lead You to Your Dream Job

The Only Way a Short Term Career Goal Will Lead You to Your Dream Job

Ask the question “Do you want to score your dream job, one where you build your career on something which you are passionate about and get paid your true worth?”

And I’m betting just about anyone will respond with a boisterous “You bet, I’m in!”

Where the rubber meets the road, however, is finding out exactly how to make that happen — to make short term career goals that lead to your dream job.

So what should this short term goal about?

Step 1: Playing to Your Strengths

Most career advice you’ll come across is quite terrible. Pass out cards. Develop a LinkedIn profile. Use high-quality resume paper. Get referral letters.

That nonsense stops right here, right now.

When it comes to landing your dream job, you cannot afford to be casual or cavalier. A successful approach demands that you be intentional and actively manage your choices in such a way that…

You place yourself where you can make the greatest contribution.

You learn to develop yourself and embrace both self-reliance and initiative.

You remain flexible, adaptive and mentally alive during your pursuit.

You have to learn how and when to change what you do, how you do it and when you do it. Simply put, you must know your core strengths so that you know where you belong!

Step 2: Strengthening Your Core Goals

A dream job means spending time doing the things that you love to do and are great at. This brings you increased energy, increased confidence, and the ability to create more value for others, which will lead to more productive and rewarding relationships.

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Each of us is completely unique and if ever we are to give a gift to the world, it will have to come out of our own experience and fulfillment of our Core Strengths.

Fewer things are sadder than watching a person with potential waste away in work that makes little use of their Core Strengths. Work can be one of your greatest sources of success and fulfillment. Yet, too often, the opposite is true.

To achieve success with fulfillment, it is critical that your dream job taps your Core Strengths and pays you for what you naturally love to do.

For the great majority of people, to know their strengths was irrelevant only a few decades ago. One was born into a job and into a line of work. The farmer’s son became a farmer. If he was not good at being a farmer, he failed.

The artisan’s son was similarly going to be an artisan, and so on. But today the game has changed, we all have choices as to the work we do. Which means we therefore have to know our strengths so that we can know where we belong.

There is only one way to find out:

The After-Action Review

The after-action review is your feedback analysis as well as the best resource you’ll ever have for landing the job of your dreams. Allow me to explain how it works:

Whenever you make a key decision, and whenever you engage in a key action or project, you must determine and document what you expect will happen.

And overtime, you then analyze and review back from actual results to intended expectations. Several action conclusions follow from the after-action review.

1. Concentrate on your strengths.

Place yourself where your strengths can produce consistent performance and results.

2. Work on improving your strengths.

The feedback gained from the after-action review rapidly shows you where you need to improve skills or where you must acquire new knowledge.

It will show you where skills and knowledge are no longer adequate and have to be updated. It will also show the gaps in your knowledge.

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3. Identify the areas where intellectual arrogance causes disabling ignorance.

The feedback and information gained from the after action review soon identifies the areas where intellectual arrogance causes disabling ignorance.

Far too many people —and especially people with high knowledge in one area—are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being “bright” is a substitute for knowing.

4. Waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.

Remember, concentration should always be on areas of high competence and high skill.

It takes far more energy and far more work to improve from incompetence to low mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence and then to preeminence.

And yet most people—and equally most teachers and most organizations—tend to concentrate on improving weaknesses. Don’t bother because if you invest your time working on your weaknesses, all you end up with is a lot of strong weaknesses.

Your energy and resources—and time—should instead go into making yourself into a superstar performer. Focus on making your strengths productive, dominate and profitable, as you cannot build on weakness.

To achieve superior results, you must use all of the available strengths – the strengths of associates, the strengths of your superior, and your own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities…the highest and best use of your time.

Step 3: Your Core Strengths Will Set You Free

Your Core Strengths comprise of four foundational pillars. They represent the guiding principles on which your ability to maximize your performance is based and which your dream job is built upon.

Use the following acronym to uncover your Core Strengths:

Confidence

Core Strengths provide an indomitable feeling of confidence in your ability to produce and deliver quality, and consistent results. You possess the internal faith and belief that you can and will be successful.

In what areas are you most confident in your abilities to succeed?

Optimism

Core Strengths are saturated with an attitude of optimism. Optimism is a general disposition to expect the best possible outcome in a given situation. It is the belief that your future will contain outcomes, which you desire.

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Optimists are people who believe that through positive action in their communities, business and personal life that they can create a better tomorrow.

In what areas of your life are you most optimistic about creating greater value?

Relaxation

Core Strengths operate best in a relaxed state. The word relaxed has a lot to do with being unaffected, easy, spontaneous and operating in flow.

Once you can tap your Core Strengths, you will enjoy a mental state of quietness, calmness, serenity, and happiness. Time will pass quickly, and you work will feel more like play.

In what areas do you enjoy the greatest state of relaxation and a wonderful sense of flow?

Enthusiasm

Core Strengths are driven by boundless enthusiasm. It’s an inspiring zeal that delivers inspiring results as nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.

Your passion, desire and hunger about being involved in something of importance will unleash your Core Strengths.

In what areas are you the most enthusiastic and passionate?

Few things are professionally more fulfilling than doing work that you are extremely good at, turned-on about and fully invested in.

It’s an incredible feeling when what you’re good at and excited about enables you to make a contribution that truly adds value. The result is meaningful success.

Deep down we all want to be involved in work that matters, that has meaning, that is memorable, and if we’re really lucky, work that changes the world. Compelling work stimulates an emotional investment in everyone. They’re the things from which legends and legacies are made.

Be mindful…if the project you’re working on now is not fueling a powerful emotional investment…you should transform it, reframe it, and redefine it until you fall in love with it.

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Bonus: Teamwork Makes Your Dream Job Work

It means that you can focus on your Core Strengths by finding a team to support you.

Some of the best examples of people focusing on their Core Strengths are in the field of sports and entertainment.

In these industries, structures are set up to ensure that top performers can focus on what they do best — performing and strengthening their core.

For example, a professional golfer has a whole team of people around him or her who provide the support they need to focus on staying at the top of their game.

They don’t carry the clubs, nor do they manage their travel schedule. A professional golfer plays golf — period!

Learn to delegate the things at which you are incompetent, competent, and good, to people who possess their own Core Strengths in these areas.

Surrounded by people working in their own Core Strengths, you can focus on what you do best and enjoy the most.

Final Thoughts

You cannot and will not ever overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But you can make them irrelevant.

That’s why your challenge in landing your dream job is to strengthen your core skill sets and use them as a building block and launch pad for delivering a superior performance.

You must make deliberate choices and set clear goals to structure work to enable your strengths and to make your weaknesses inconsequential.

Weaknesses will always present, but to focus on them is to focus on what cannot be done.

Focusing on strength leads to a focus on performance and driving superior results…and at the end of the day your dream job will help you to deliver a life-time of results.

More Resources About Career Success

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Farber via unsplash.com

More by this author

Gary Ryan Blair

Growth Hacking Aficionado I Creator of 100 Day Challenge

The Only Way a Short Term Career Goal Will Lead You to Your Dream Job

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Last Updated on June 1, 2020

How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change

How to Swiftly Make a Midlife Career Change

You wonder how they did it. How did your friend, a librarian at your public library, snag the fabulous marketing job at a digital ad agency? And how did the TV producer you’re acquainted with just become the prestigious publisher of an online parenting magazine? While you were watching “Game of Thrones,” how did so many of your peers manage to make a midlife career change that landed them in exciting new jobs?

One thing your friends probably didn’t do: listen to the naysayers. There will always be some well-meaning family member or acquaintance who will counsel you against any sort of career change, saying it’s too big a risk.

Aren’t your mid-30’s to early-50’s meant to be your optimal earning years where you advance up the ladder in your current field, this person may argue. Why would you want to sacrifice spectacular earnings for the paltry paycheck you will likely earn when you change careers?

Because maybe it’s not all about money. Maybe you’ve decided that your chosen career path doesn’t have the allure it once had. Or maybe the change you’re after is about money!

You realize that you’ve already reached the pinnacle of your earning potential at a figure well short of your original goal. Instead of being held back by this fact, it forces you to really examine your long-term career trajectory[1].

Below, find your 5-point plan for how to swiftly make a midlife career change.

1. Allow Yourself the Luxury to Dream Big

Now that the idea has taken hold, what is your next step? You may have to reckon with financial responsibilities, such as a home mortgage, a car payment, and a family to support, so making a rash move isn’t in your best interest. Still, give yourself the luxury of dreaming big.

Give some thought to what your ideal career looks like:

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  • What’s your perfect job title?
  • What responsibilities will make up your workday?
  • What qualities would make for an outstanding boss and great colleagues?

Make a list and refer back to it as you consider new opportunities.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Next, do your homework. Understand the fundamentals of your dream job so there won’t be any unwelcome surprises later.

Find out whether this occupation offers a respectable starting salary and is in a growth cycle. Explore any additional educational requirements and available programs.

In this investigative stage, take an inventory of all the hard and soft job skills you have to offer. You probably have more transferable skills than you realize.

For example, if you’ve been teaching high school science but want to venture into the medical research field, your classroom experience may have more crossover potential than you first thought.

A scientist working in a medical university lab, for instance, may oversee undergraduates helping to carry out the research. Similarly, strong communication skills honed from teaching classes may make you a whiz at presenting research findings.

3. Think of Yourself as a Matchmaker

Look at job postings for your dream position — and for a tier or two below it if you’ll need to work your way up. Consider how to adapt your abilities to the job requirements.

Think of yourself as a professional matchmaker, creating a match between yourself and your potential employer. Pinpoint and promote those traits that make you most desirable, and know how to put your best attributes forward.

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Employers will be attracted to your technical expertise, but also to your people skills — the soft skills that make you a good communicator, a reliable team player, and a value-driven employee.

Suppose that you’re applying for a financial analyst or financial planner position. Hopefully you’ve earned a bachelor’s degree in a major that qualifies you, such as business or economics. Then showcase your accounting skills, analytical acuity, and dexterity with a spreadsheet. Many firms have their own software, so you’ll want to plug your overall knowledge of technology along with your talent for navigating computer platforms.

Beyond proving that you possess these hard skills, you’ll shine if you can also highlight two or three people skills. Provide relatable examples. Strong verbal communication and unwavering integrity are two skills with particular relevance to careers in finance.

Beyond that, it’s always a good idea to remember that every job involves interacting with people. People skills are always in demand.

Ideally, you will perfectly match your skills with the skills needed in the job of your dreams. For those skills that you already possess, be sure to describe them in the way they’re stated on a job posting. As for the skills you don’t possess, put a plan in place to acquire them.

4. Carve out a Path for Mastering New Skills

The radically changing nature of most industries today can actually work in your favor. Even veteran workers in professions such as consumer electronics, retail, and service industries, to name a few, need to re-educate themselves to stay on top of the changing way business is conducted in today’s technological world.

Still, before you spend the time and money on any program, check out reviews by previous students, ask colleagues for recommendations, and carefully read the course descriptions.

Here’re some options for you to master new skills:

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Online Courses

If you’re a self-starter who is pressed for time, online courses may be the easiest way to pick up needed skills for the job you’re after. Online courses run the gamut from providing a quick 2 to 3 hour introduction to a potential career path to offering specific training. Some online programs even reward you with a full-blown degree from a prestigious university.

Continuing Education Courses

Another route to acquiring new skills for a midlife career change is to take continuing education courses at a local university or community college. Weekly, in-person classes will allow you to keep your day job.

Consider discussing your goals with your boss. Some companies encourage continuous learning. Home Depot, for example, offers employees up to $5,000 towards approved courses. Ask your supervisor whether your company has an educational assistance program. You will save your hard-earned money, and your employer will be investing in a very important asset: you.

Career Training Programs

Many high-skilled, high-paying careers require a specialized industry certification. Moreover, today’s career training programs are a far cry from the vocational education centers of the past. They’re now driven by technology and often taught by instructors working in the field. These programs are career-focused and can be completed faster than traditional community college and four-year college programs. It’s often possible to set up a class schedule that includes online, evening, or weekend classes.

Academic Degree Programs

If you decide to go all-in and enroll in an academic degree program (MBA, MFA, or other), discuss low-residency options with your academic counselor that will allow you to earn the degree while being flexible about hours spent inside a classroom. Fellowship programs, while intensely competitive, can fully fund a master’s degree in some fields.

5. Attract Notice Through Smart Networking

Along with gaining requisite skills, you’ll need to ramp up a robust networking campaign[2]. Seventy to eighty percent of jobs never reach the open market in an online listing. Why? Because the jobs are filled before they go public.

When you network, which, broadly speaking, means reaching out to employers and employees in the field of your dreams, you increase your chances of hearing about a job long before it hits the open market.

Smart networking means taking a two-pronged approach:

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First, target your friends, acquaintances, and industry connections who may be able to give you a foothold for making a contact inside a particular firm. While it may be considered old-fashioned to tap your organically grown network, it still comes with the best odds of success.

Make a point of meeting face-to-face with anyone who can offer you a lead or provide a reference. You never know what kind of opportunity will unfold from these offline connections. For a midlife career change, face-to-face networking is a great strategy to pursue.

But don’t stop there. Employ social media, which will exponentially increase your networking opportunities. Today, first impressions are mostly made in cyberspace. Making a strong online impression through a carefully curated social media profile may attract hiring managers and recruiters.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, every good match comes down to a “speed date.”

Throughout your career transition, you’ll be working to effectively make the case that your skills are the skills that your dream company needs.

Just like speed dating, where strangers make snap decisions on your “date-ability,” employers will decide your hire-ability in less time than it takes to eat lunch. With both, first impressions are key.

More Tips on Making a Midlife Career Change

Featured photo credit: Brendan Church via unsplash.com

Reference

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