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Dream Careers Begin When You Take Your Dream Into Your Career

Dream Careers Begin When You Take Your Dream Into Your Career

What do American Idol, Ms. World, and The Olympics have in common? They’re competitions and you’ll inevitably hear participants gush “This is a dream come true for me!” In life, we all look forward to dreams coming true.  Some experience it early on. Others wait for a long time.  A few suddenly realize they’re already living their dream!  And then there are those who don’t know what a dream-come-true looks like but keep waiting for it to show up. Your dream life ties up with a dream career.  Your vision can be nebulous or clear, constant or shifting. What matters is you keep that vision of your dream.  Whichever type of work you’re in, here’s how taking your dream into your career can get you that dream career.

Your dream serves like a destination. You get there faster.

Reggie loved to draw as a 4-year old.  She doodled on notebooks,  dinner napkins, place mats, toilet paper, walls – on any surface!  Many children do that.  Unlike  other children, Reggie’s drawings now grace pages of award-winning books, tumblers in hip cafes in Europe, planners favored by picky environmentalists, popular wall papers for androids, and cool T-shirts selling online. She belongs to a group of respected illustrators and artists who are in regular demand. Doing what she loves and getting paid well for it, she has the freedom to travel or  do nothing for a while, if it hits her fancy.  How did she get there? She recognized her dream career at age four and kept going.

Your dream guides you. You make deliberate decisions.

When you know the journey’s destination, it’s simple to find transport  that gets you there. Visualize your dream career and make each decision by answering, “Does this get me closer to my dream?”  Many incoming college freshmen are not sure if their chosen course is right for them. Karina was an exception.  She was sure it was NOT what she wanted to pursue, but her parents were a big influence (read pressure). A dutiful daughter, Karina finished the 4-year Nursing course her parents insisted on.  Then she calmly declared she will begin studies in HER chosen field – business management.  Karina gave in to her parent’s wishes but never let go of her vision.  Now all her decisions are directed straight to her dream career in business.

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Your dream career doesn’t have to be etched in stone. You gauge if it needs tweaking.

I was ecstatic after passing the state university entrance exams but my dream course was filled up.  I settled for another course with plans to shift to my preferred course at the earliest possible time. The right time never came up in the next 4 years, until I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management.  There were  raised eyebrows from my loftily intellectual and socially idealistic peers, but I was determined to begin my working life and accepted the unavoidable shift. The hotel career I had “settled for” led to such a wealth of lessons, challenges, fun, adventure, travel, unforgettable experiences, and long-lasting friendships.  Many times along the way, I have gushed, “This is a dream come true for me!”

But what if you find yourself doing work that is nowhere near your dream career and you don’t exactly feel fulfilled doing it?  Reverse the process.  Take your dream into the job and work like you’re living your dream. The enjoyment you get out of any type of work is in direct proportion to the amount of interest, attention, and commitment you put into it.

Appreciate the miracle of having a job and work cheerfully. There are people in the world whose dream IS to have a job – any job!

Check out the unemployment figures. The International Labor Organization Global Employment Trends 2013 reports the number of unemployed worldwide is projected to increase to 205 million in 2014 (from 197 million in 2012) as economic growth slows.  Meanwhile fresh graduates are joining the labor force each year.  This information is meant to, hopefully, add a grateful spring to your step as you head to work. Don’t allow an attitude of dissatisfaction push you into turning in a sloppy job.  Remember, you get out of work what you put into it.  And yes, there are many people waiting in the wings who are qualified and ready to replace you at any time.

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Do your best with every task, no matter how tedious it is. They are baby steps to your dream career.

When you join the work force, it doesn’t matter if you’ve graduated from a prestigious university.  You’re just another newbie coming in at entry level position, so be ready for tedious tasks. It was Christmas season when I began training at the marketing department of the InterContinental Hotel. Wearing a smart blazer, skirt and high heels, I half sat, half slumped on the floor next to a desk piled high with hundreds of presents for the hotel’s top clients. My instructions — “Wrap them all up by lunchtime!”  I was lucky. The other trainee (also in high heels) was  running around fetching stuff for the sales department divas. Take tedious tasks in the spirit of necessary training to test your mettle.   While you’re at it, be the best gift-wrapper or stuff-fetcher.  It will make the task enjoyable and develop your patience and people skills.

Welcome additional responsibility.  It could mean a promotion to your dream position.

What’s your reaction when your supervisor assigns you additional tasks and/or staff?  Yes, initial resistance is normal.  Try looking at it this way.

  • Your superior trusts in you and believes you are capable.
  • You gain new skills and knowledge.
  • Each new work experience adds to your professional portfolio and makes you highly valuable in the jobs market.

The additional responsibility could, in fact, soon be followed by an official promotion with full benefits … IF you handle the challenge well.

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A dream career is not about the money.

I know people who don’t mind getting paid at the lower end of the scale because they love what they’re doing.  Then there are people who are paid really well but feel miserable because they haven’t found their passion.  Some dream careers begin with a clear vision and a straight path. Other dream careers blossom from an unavoidable shift to a less-preferred course. Both situations follow this chronology:

  1. Passion fuels quality work and excellent performance.
  2. Opportunities show up regularly.
  3. Money follows inevitably.

By no means is money unimportant. It’s just not the first thing in the equation.  Observe when people talk about their dream life or dream career. Their eyes are shining and their voices are raised in excitement or hushed in reverence as they describe the experience. Money doesn’t show up in the conversation.

Observe too when the participants in American Idol, Ms. World, and the Olympics gratefully gush “This is a dream come true for me!”  It is usually AFTER they get eliminated. You see, living one’s dream is not about winning either.

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Featured photo credit: Md Asaduzzaman Tarek via flickr.com

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Published on January 28, 2020

How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

How to Ace an Interview: Nailing the 10 Most Tricky Questions

As someone who has been in recruiting for over 10 years I can tell you the interview is vitally important to getting that new job you really want. During the interview process, there will most likely be at least 2 interviews, a phone interview and an in person interview. Both are important.

Companies can of course have different interviewing processes but in general, there is at least one phone interview, also known as a phone screen, and a live, in-person interview. The in-person interview can be with one person or it might be with a variety of people. While they are both important, the live interview is typically the one that will make or break you as a candidate for the position you are interviewing for.

Many of the interview questions we will review here will more likely come up during the live interview. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for them on the phone interview as well.

To illustrate how important the live interview is, I’ll tell you about my search that happened a year ago. I’d decided it was time to move on from the role I’d been in for a little over 6 years. As I started researching and looking for a new opportunity, I began down the path with 2 companies. With the one I landed with, I’d had 3 separate phone screens, each one an hour long. They must have thought they went well because I was asked to fly to the city where the corporate office is at and do an in-person interview. — with 8 people.

Yeah, it was a long day. The good news is I rocked the interviews across the board. I flew home that evening and the following day, I received a call with the job offer. That was less than 24 hours after I’d had the in person interview. This is how important the live interview is.

So how to ace an interview? We can dive right in to helping you nail the 10 most tricky interview questions:

1. What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

This is a personal favorite of mine. The primary reason for this question is not to actually find out what your biggest weakness is. Unless of course, you say something like “showing up to work on a regular basis,” then it’s probably going to get you kicked out of consideration for the role.

The main reason for someone asking you this question is to see if you are self-aware. That is if you know your weaknesses and are smart enough to account for them.

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The smart play here is to answer in a modest way. You want to be able to show that your biggest weakness actually has an upside. For instance, I usually say that mine is impatience. Which is true, I like to get things done. But what I ensure what I point out is that even though I am impatient, it’s because I like to crank and get a lot of work done.

2. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

Interestingly enough, a lot of people don’t have an answer to this question. It’s designed to find out if you’ve actually done research on the company and if you are excited about this position.

When I ask this question, many people have told me something like “because it looks like a good opportunity”. I mean, can you be any more generic?

The key to answering this is to show you’ve done research on the company and that you are enthusiastic about the actual position. Companies want people that are excited to work there, not just someone that shows up for a paycheck.

3. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Employers are asking you this question to see if you have somewhat of a plan for your career. It doesn’t have to be completely mapped out in a step by step manner but, a general overall plan is good to see. It means you are goal oriented and are working towards something.

Don’t worry about answering in a way that states you are planning on sticking with the company until you retire. Rather, focus more on how it’s important to you to continue to learn and get better and better at what you do. Companies like to hire self-motivated people.

4. Tell Me About a Time You Messed Up

Or tell me about a time something didn’t work out the way you planned. Similar in concept. The key here is to show that you take accountability for your actions and how you react to things going wrong.

Companies like to see that you are willing to accept responsibility for the things you oversee and own up when you are wrong. People that always find a way to blame their missteps on other people or circumstances typically don’t make good team mates.

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The other component here is things don’t always go as planned, how good are you at adapting and thinking on your feet.

5. Why Are You Looking to Leave Your Current Job?

This may seem like a place to launch into all the things you don’t like about your current job. Or to talk about what a terrible person your boss is. Don’t do it. That’s the path you do not want to go down. And that’s really what this question tends to prod out of many people.

If I am interviewing you and ask this question and you tell me all the ways your boss doesn’t appreciate you and your company has terrible leadership, I’m thinking what you’re going to be saying about me in a year when you are interviewing somewhere else.

Make sure you are framing your answer in a way that doesn’t shed bad light on your current or most recent employer. You want to focus on things like you’ve enjoyed working for the company but your growth options are limited there so you are exploring outside opportunities.

6. How Would Your Current Manager Describe You?

This question gives you the opportunity to show off your strengths and what your boss appreciates about what you bring to the table. You want to focus on the positive traits that your boss likes and how it helps you in your role.

What you do not want to do is sprinkle in the things your boss doesn’t think as highly of. Don’t say something like my boss would describe me as a focused worker, at least on the days I make it into the office.

7. Tell Me About a Time You Overcame an Obstacle

Another one of my favorite questions. Interviewers ask this question to see if you are able to deal with roadblocks.

Things don’t always go smoothly, so having people on the team who are able to solve problems has huge upside.

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Being able to overcome obstacles is a great trait to have. Make sure you have a few stories about how something didn’t go as planned that caused a challenge and how you were involved in solving the problem. It’s a way of turning a bad situation into a good one.

8. Why Should We Hire You?

If you are at the point of a live interview, you should be highly interested in the position.

By this point, you should have a pretty clear picture of what the role is and how your skills and experience will help you succeed. The reason this question is being asked is to see if you are the right candidate for this role.

This gives you a great opportunity to tell your interviewer how your expertise will positively impact the role. Right now, you are in the spotlight to clearly show that your experience is the perfect fit for the position and why. Shine on!

9. What’s Your Greatest Achievement?

Employers tend to ask this question to gain an understanding of what your big wins were. What are the really impactful things that have happened during your career and how you were the reason why they happened.

This is another great opportunity for you to toot your own horn. What you want to be conscious of is how you tell the story about your biggest achievement. You want to make sure you say why it was such a big achievement.

If possible, it’s always good to include your team as part of the big win. Employers love to hire people who can make things happen but, it’s also important they understand the importance of team work.

10. Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

You might be asking yourself why this is a tricky question. Honestly, it’s not a tricky question if you are prepared for it.

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What the interviewer is looking for here is how interested and excited you are for the position. You’d be surprised at how many people answer this question with a blank stare or have no questions prepared.

Again, if you are at a live interview, you should be highly interested in a position and the company. You will convey how interested you are in the opportunity with some well thought out questions to ask.

You don’t want to just ask one question like “How often is payday”? Have at least 4 to 5 questions prepared but don’t overwhelm your interviewer with dozens and dozens of questions. Show that you’ve given some serious thought to this position by coming prepared with solid questions to ask.

The Bottom Line

There you go, insight to nailing the 10 most tricky questions during the interview process. There are, of course, many other questions you might get asked during the interview process but, these tend to be the ones that trip most people up.

Remember to take your time and thoroughly prepare for the interview. You don’t have to memorize your answers or anything but having a good idea of how you’d answer these questions will help you ace the next interview.

Here’s to being career advancement ready!

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Featured photo credit: Romain V via unsplash.com

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