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7 Ways To Match Your Talents And Ambitions To Your Dream Career

7 Ways To Match Your Talents And Ambitions To Your Dream Career

A dream job requires three things: It must be a good fit for your abilities, match your goals, and make you happy. Finding a career with all three of those ingredients isn’t easy, but with the right strategies you can uncover a vocation that will bring you satisfaction. Below are seven ways you can match your talents and ambitions to your dream career.

1. Take an Aptitude Test

An aptitude test is the most obvious path to discovering your dream career. It can be an effective option, too, if you choose the right one. The Clifton Strengths Finder is a well-regarded personal assessment test that’s been taken by thousands of people. It theorizes that everyone possesses a certain number of fixed, universal personal-character attributes that together result in a tendency to develop certain skills more easily and succeed in certain fields while being less successful in others. The test is 80 questions long, takes roughly 20-30 minutes to complete, and reveals the test-taker’s top five “talent themes.” With those in hand, you can search for work where you can best make use of those strengths.

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2. Ask The Right Questions

A key component to finding answers is knowing which questions to ask. Forbes posted a fill-in-the-blank assessment that breaks down the big question (“What’s my dream career?”) into nine simpler ones. Your responses to those will reveal patterns and help show you what you really want to be doing with your life.

3. Make Lists

List-making is one of the tried-and-true ways of reaching a decision. During your search for a dream career, try creating three lists: what you’re talented at, what makes you happy, and what your goals are. The lengthier the lists are, the better; jot down whatever comes to mind. After you’re done, look for correlations between the lists. What falls into all three categories? What activities fulfill all of the necessary requirements of your dream career?

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4. Ask Others’ Opinions

Sometimes you don’t have the best perspective on your own life. Friends and family often understand aspects of you better than you understand yourself. Ask people close to you what activities they think that you excel at and are happiest doing. Their answers could propel you onto a completely different career trajectory than you expected.

5. Conduct Informational Interviews

Once you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to be doing for a living, learn from someone who’s already in your dream field. Arrange an informational interview with someone who has the career you think you want, and find out the realities of his or her industry. Figure out if the job is really something that you’re interested in, and if your skills match up with the duties it entails.

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6. Get Some Experience

After you find the career you think will fulfill you, try it out for a while. Look for opportunities to job shadow, intern, or volunteer in your profession of choice. It will give you a chance to immerse yourself in that work environment and find out if it’s somewhere you’ll be comfortable. You probably won’t get paid for it at first, but that’s one of the costs of looking for a job you love, which leads to my next point.

7. Think Long Term

Don’t just think about what will make you happy right now. Consider what lifestyle you’ll be comfortable with in the future. A lot of dream jobs don’t pay well, so ask yourself if you’re willing to give up some of life’s luxuries so you can be happy to go to work everyday. Make sure that you know what you’re sacrificing if you leave your current occupation to pursue a less predictable career path.

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Featured photo credit: Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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