Most people work because they have to. What if you could work because you loved to?

15 Surprisingly Simple Ways To Find A Dream Job
Photo credit: JD Hancock

Learn how to find a job you love.

Dream jobs are not what you think

You probably have an ideal job you've fantasized about: movie star, professional athlete or something else rich and famous, right?

Many people do get to do those things, and they don't always love it. Far from it: it's hard to be in the public eye, stressful when people only appreciate you for fame or money, and just tough to make friends who understand your problems.

On top of that, many people's perceived dream jobs are just unrealistic: the jobs might require a lot of natural talent, expensive training, maybe even friends in high places.

In this clip, everyone has a dream job but almost no one is working it:

(Clip taken from 📺 50 Uber Popular Job Search Videos You Need To See)

On the other hand, many more people have jobs they absolutely love, jobs they absolutely did NOT dream about.

I've been there too.

From 2000-2001, I worked as a web developer at in Seattle and then Paris, France. I had never dreamed of being a web developer, my dream was to be a professional baseball player. But I loved that job. It was so much fun, I didn't want to leave in the evening and couldn't wait to get to the office in the morning.

While I was there, that was my dream job.

Are you currently working at your dream job?

Free bonus: Download a PDF version of this article to use as a handy reference.

Then what makes a dream job?

Your dream job depends on a number of things, and it changes as your priorities change.

UK charity The Centre for Effective Altruism went through over 60 studies about what makes a dream job and these are the six key ingredients they found:

  1. Work you’re good at
  2. Work that helps others
  3. Engaging work that lets you enter a state of flow (freedom, variety, clear tasks, feedback)
  4. Supportive colleagues
  5. A job that meets your basic needs, like fair pay, a short commute and reasonable hours
  6. A job that fits your personal life

Most importantly, focus on getting good at something that helps others.

When I look back, my job at Amazon definitely met all those conditions.

If I had to choose a definition: a dream job is a job you love.

A dream job is a job you love ♥Click To Tweet

How do you find your next dream job?

Get Rich Slowly is a terrific blog that focuses on helping people make and save money. They asked their readers what they did to find jobs they love. Here are the best answers in the long list:

1) Create a fertile environment for “accidental discovery”

If you're still in school, increase your chance of lucking out in finding a perfect job by studying broad topics like business or art.

Why this works: by definition, specialty topics will limit your focus. Going in the opposite direction will give you more exposure to new ideas and concepts that could in turn lead to a new dream job.

2) Follow your dreams

If it's still possible, try for that job you fantasized about in the past.

Why this works: you're more likely to achieve your objective if you have a clear vision of what it is.

3) Look into your past for your future

List your happiest childhood memories or past successes – school or work – and try to understand what made them so.

Why this works: it's often easier to duplicate success than create it the first time.

4) Know your strengths and choose a job that leverages them

Why this works: people tend to like the things they're good at.

5) Test yourself

Take aptitude tests like the Myers-Briggs and Strong Interest Inventory tests to determine which directions you should investigate first.

Why this works: although the tests usually require a fee, they're short and give you almost immediate results.

6) Be open to friends' positive suggestions…

“A friend jokingly suggested it to me… it was something I never saw myself in, but it fits.”

Why this works: a quote- “most people aren’t capable of being honest with themselves about what it is that they truly love. Too many outside pressures — family expectations, peer groups, societal issues, and plain old “noise” — compromise our ability to really be clear on what we enjoy.”

7) …while ignoring negative opinions while pushing forward

Professor Deepak Malhotra of the Harvard Business School gave a fantastic speech to graduating MBA students where he mentioned how the only reason he found his dream job was because he was “a good quitter… who quit often, and quit early.”

He changed college majors 5 times, including changing schools in the middle, and changed jobs many times before settling on his dream job, which was something he didn't even know existed back in college, and would never had know about if he hadn't kept quitting and pushing forward.

(The entire speech is worth watching below, but he gets into it around the 10:45 mark)

Why this works: people learn more by doing than regretting.

8) Experiment with different possible career choices

Try out various jobs on a part-time or volunteer basis, perhaps while still holding a full-time job. Sean Aiken tried to do 52 jobs in 52 weeks.

Why this works: there are many jobs that people simply don't know exist. Also, some people stop enjoying a passion when money, deadlines and client expectations enter the picture.

9) Pay the bills first

Focus first on finding a job you like that can also provide the resources to do the things you love.

Why this works: not every passion translates well into a job and a standard of living you're comfortable with.

10) Consider lowering your salary expectations

Also known as the “I'd pay to play” effect.

Why this works: by lowering your price, you open the door to more employers that can afford your services.

11) Appreciate good people

One of the reasons I loved my job at Amazon was the fun I had with my colleagues on a daily basis, but also the things I learned from them.

Why this works: whether a loner or a social animal, you will get comfortable in a role quicker with great co-workers that understand you. However, people come and go so you should rarely base any decisions just on this one point.

12) Try a different job in your current industry

“A friend of mine switched…both jobs use essentially the same skills for different results, but the second job is a much better fit than the first.”

Why this works: you already have the necessary skills and are familiar with the industry, so the benefits happen quicker.

13) Research the profession that interests you

Use informational interviews, forum and blog questions, trade show visits, radio call-ins, whatever it takes for you to get a better picture of life in your target job. Quote: “you have to know if you’re passionate about the job *or* the subject.”

Why this works: the reality of a job may be different that the one you dreamed about. Another good point is that your passion may change after doing it 40 hours a week.

14) Change your current job into one you love

Probably one of the last things people think about when it comes to dream jobs: what could you change in your current job to make it a dream job?

Why this works: saves you a job search and might be quick to implement.

15) Talk to a career coach

Career coaches and counselors specialize in helping people choose a direction or career path.

Why this works: coaches can draw on their experience and expertise to give you personalized advice that's more effective than test results.

shainedawson dream job tweet

Question of the article

When I was a kid, my dream job was to be a baseball player on my favorite team, the Montreal Expos. What job did you dream about when you were younger? Tell us in the comments.

Read next

Recommended books about dream jobs

Loving it? Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter to learn about having more fun in your career.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Fitore

    Hey Jake,

    Another great post that applies to the general public (I wish I took the time to comment more often so you’d know that bunch of people agree with you, silently ;-)). I’m happy that you’re taking the time to share your healthy views on work-related matters and prove to people like the CEO of Mahalo that having a life shouldn’t get you fired (you probably saw that whole backlash on the topic whether you should fire the ‘non-workaholics’ or the ‘workaholics’).
    Back to your topic, there was a slightly different approach on this matter (‘How do you put your heart into that?’ by 37Signals saying that even if you can’t find a job that you’re passionate about, you can still learn how to put your heart into what you currently do. Their idea was that even if the end-product you work on isn’t interesting at all, you can turn it into a challenge by trying to find the best way to implement it (obviously, provided you have an understanding boss that lets you spend a bit of time on research).


  2. Jacob Share

    Thanks Fitore! Good article find and good advice on your part. Taking pride in what you do is the first step anyone should take.

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  4. Kate

    It is possible to love every job you ever do. It’s a mindset thing.

  5. Tim Woods

    While many of your suggestions make sense, I do take issue with one of them – you should NEVER lower your salary expectations when going for your dream job. If anything, you should raise them. It may sound contrarian, but it’s actually very valid – companies simply don’t value people who will lower their value just to get themselves in the door – if anything, it makes you look desperate and needy.

    Using the often-coined dating parallel, people rarely go for the potential partner that is willing to do anything for love because they don’t love themselves. If they can’t love themselves, how can they love you? This is why when you check out most of the leading recruiting companies out there, they pride themselves in finding and convincing “passive candidates” and motivating them to join the companies they represent.

    The question is how do you do that? Quite simply you need to plant the seeds to get these recruiters to notice you. Actively post on social media platforms like LinkedIn about the subjects you are passionate about; show that you are truly knowledgeable about your subject matter. Once you do that, then they will come to you and help you find your dream job. Another way is to go to meetups or other networking events where you can meet others in the field; if you go to enough of them, then you will establish yourself as someone “in the know” – which is a good thing.

    Without that, you will be just like everyone else – people with dreams, but not much else.

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