Knowing What You Want in a Job and Going After It

At the end of the day, we are in control of our own career — but knowing what we really want is a journey within itself. Oftentimes, we surrender our control because of other things, like reputation or compensation, but this is exactly what we need to avoid as it isn’t all that fulfilling.

To avoid this trap, you must evaluate and reflect on yourself — in this way, you will be able to assess other aspects of a potential job, like how it aligns with your core values and how it satisfies what you want in life. With factors like money or reputation no longer ruling your decision, here are some pointers to help you find out what you want in a job, and then be able to go after it.

1. Separate your expectations from those of others

According to an article on Forbes, you’ll only figure out what you really want to do in life if you set side the “shoulds”, or society’s expectations of you. Often, we want to please others, so we just follow what they want. This leads to dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfillment. Instead, what you should do is listen to your inner voice. It can be difficult and confusing at first, but eventually, you’ll start to find your own way, and you’ll realize that things are better off with you in control. Remember: Your life is for you to enjoy, so stop living under the burden of external expectations. Fulfill yours instead.

2. Consider the salary range you’re willing to work for

As we mentioned, salary should ideally not be the overriding criterion as to whether or not you’ll accept a job — but it doesn’t mean it’s out of the question, as you might shortchange yourself instead. An article on Comeet about how to respond to salary questions suggests waiting to hear more about what a job entails before setting your sights on pay. In other words, find out first if the compensation is equal to the work. This is where you’ll have to recognize your own worth. If you think you are being offered enough for the job you want, then say yes by all means.

3. Research interesting volunteer opportunities or shadow someone

Before committing to a job (which you could potentially dislike or even hate) Lifehacker recommends taking a few days to try out what different jobs feel like. One suggestion is to look online for volunteer opportunities that match with your interests. Contrary to expectations, volunteer work isn’t solely limited to manual labor as it can also involve things like coding, childcare, or even fashion. The good thing about volunteering is that while you’re helping others, you’re also learning new skills or honing existing ones. Another suggestion is sending emails or calling up companies in your field of interest to possibly get shadowing opportunities, which will give you an in-depth look at the career you want. While shadowing, keep asking questions about everything you’re interested in so you can get answers straight from the source.

4. Consult with a career planner for additional guidance

If you’re still feeling lost, confused, and unsure about which direction you’re headed, perhaps it’s time to consult an expert to assist you. A career planner, for instance, can provide you with helpful and actionable tips to get started on your journey towards getting your dream job. Whether it’s starting your own business or climbing the corporate ladder, mentorship from experts will prove invaluable when it comes to altering the trajectory of your career path. We also recommend that you find a mentor, and you can find one by following our ‘3 Steps for Finding a Mentor’ post. Realize that now is always the best time to have a mentor, as you shouldn’t be going through life on your own. You’ll have to identify a person who you want to learn from, and muster the courage to say, “Hey, I’d love to spend time with you.” Simple, isn’t it? But it can help you a lot.

Aside from all the above tips, try reading Betting On You: How to Put Yourself First and (Finally) Take Control of Your Career. Through this book, you’ll be able to learn even more ways to finally pursue the career of your dreams on your own terms.