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Three golden rules to landing a dream job

"In life, there are only two paths you can take regarding your career (1) those you make yourself and (2) a job that others map out for you."  

These words have helped throughout most of my career by helping me understand what career path would best suit me. Choosing the right career or right company to work for has never been harder with the range of job roles out there. The sheer number of job roles in today’s job market makes it more challenging for both interviewees and interviewers to find the right fit.

Sadly, many get this wrong resulting in situations that don’t end well for either party. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to be on both sides – being hired and recruiting for my own business. My experience has identified the following three rules when it comes to landing your dream job:

Work experience is useful, but it isn’t everything 

I have always seen work experience for a student as a catch-22 situation as aspiring students look for junior positions in an industry. However, many sought after positions need at least one years’ experience.

Most candidates’ biggest mistakes stem from focusing solely on listing their work experience on their CV rather than thinking about how to build on these skills and experiences to land their dream job.

It is always important to not just tick all the boxes when going for a job but go above and beyond to stand out. Think of ways to add value to the position or company in a way that employers may not have thought of. This could be through past work experience or even through your hobbies that demonstrate core skills need for the role.  Being able to articulate how you can be an asset to your potential employer will show recruiters a go-getter spirit and an invested interest in the company, which usually means that you want to stay there long term and grow with the organisation.

Work experience is not everything! It is always good if you can show that you have had relevant work experience. However, it depends on the industry that you want to get into – there are other ways to impress potential employees.

In my experience as an interviewer and interviewee, I would say that employers look for someone that can gel with their team, someone that they would want to talk to at 2 am when working on a project. This is where someone’s personality and core skills can make the difference when competing with other candidates that look identical on paper.

Culture is king 

Over time, culture has become the new buzz word in recruiting. Over 89% of new hires fail as a result of a poor culture fit. Students often take “culture fit” to mean that they should think and act the same as their employer, but this isn’t the case. It is the ability to understand whether you are more creative or analytical, introvert or extrovert, better suited to work for a large or small business, etc. All of these things play an important part in deciding what team or company would be the best fit for you in the future.

The challenge many people face is enabling an interviewer to see their personality during an interview to determine whether they are the right fit. This is more of an art than a science as you will need to find a balance between being professional and showing your true colours. The key lies in the ability to tell a story that shows why you would fit. This can be achieved by developing a bond with the interviewer so they understand what drives you, why you may fit and how you could make a difference in their team.

Organisations are moving towards hiring people that have different skills to balance the dynamics of the business such as hiring people that are both analytical and creative. This is the best way to bring out individual skills in the workplace. Employers understand the importance of culture. It is no longer about hiring people that look and act the same as the rest of the company.  Instead, there is increasingly a move towards promoting diversity and new thinking which can only be achieved by having a variety of personalities and backgrounds amongst employees. This is why recruiters ask questions such as “what are your interests outside of work?”

There has been various research that has found that a good culture fit provides a company with benefits such as:

  • 31% increase in productivity (Greenbery & Arawaka)

  • 37% increase in sale (Martin Seligman)

  • 44% higher retention (Gallup)

  • 51% reduction in staff turnover (Gallup)

  • 66% less sick leaves (Forbes)

  • 125% less burnout (HBR)

  • 300% more innovation (HBR)

My advice to anyone that is concerned that they will not fit in with an organisation’s culture is: “be yourself”.  The ability to be yourself is important to feeling comfortable in your workspace leading to creating a dream job environment.

Follow your passion  

 “Always hire for attitude and not always for skill.”

A company can teach you new skills, some can even help you to align with their culture to help them grow. However, no one can teach you to be passionate about the job. Passion is something you cannot fake, and recruiters can see through it if you try. This is without a doubt the most important element to applying for that dream job. Research shows that more millennials leave their first graduate job in the first three to six months. This is down to the fact that their current career path does not connect to their passions.

To make a job have meaning, you need to find ways to make sure your next job fills you with a level of meaningfulness, whether that is the ability to learn, travel, make a difference, etc. Understanding why you are passionate about a role is one of the top questions candidates fail to answer in an interview according to former hiring manager Alison Green, author of ‘How to get a job’. Companies want to build their teams with the brightest talent who are also motivated to build a career within their organisation. Many organisations invest considerable amounts of money and time into developing employees so that they can become future leaders of the organisation.

It is common for career-seekers to start working in an industry only to find out that it isn’t right for them. This could be a combination of things from working hours, limited career prospects, the clash of ethics… the list can go on. Whenever someone asks me for advice, I ask them three questions:

1. Is your job pushing you to your top potential?

2. Are you doing the most meaningful thing with your time?

3. Does your job give you enough drive to wake up in the morning and get to work?

If any of these questions ends with no, it may not be the right role for you.

What can you take away from this?

Hopefully, these three points will be helpful to guide you in securing your dream job. However, life is never easy especially when it involves reaching your goals. Remember that true grit and perseverance are important. It is never easy to find your dream job but as the saying goes, nothing worth doing is easy. Keep an open mind and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way.


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