Whether your straight out of school or university looking to break into your ideal industry or making a career change, getting your foot in the door can be really challenging.
A big part of the challenge is having the right experience levels that prospective employers are looking for.
With more than half of Australian workers being employed by small business and the changes in the economy over the last few years there's much less scope for a business to be able to afford to train up a new employee.
It can often be too much of a financial risk and cost for a small business to take on someone they have to spend more money (that they probably don't have at the moment) on to get ready to contribute to the business.
And the same seems to be happening in the corporate world, making it quite frustrating when you're wanting to start out in a new field.
While budgets have simply shrunk and employment costs have risen this will remain a stony wall that can feel really limiting.
The good news is we have the individual power to make our own choices, to get ourselves ready for a prospective employer so they see our true value and potential and welcome us in - the responsibility for training and skills development is far more on the shoulders of the individual so seize the day and take your education and training to the next level.
How to Get Your Dream Job
To help you get where you want to be, here are 12 practical tips for getting your dream job.
Dream Job Tip 1
It's all about bringing value to the table and getting yourself ahead of the pack. So put yourself in the shoes of your prospective employer. What do they want and need?
From their prospective, within their business, it is about them and their needs being met, not about you and what they can do for you. So present yourself as a solution to their needs and problems so you add value to the business.
Dream Job Tip 2
If you're replying to an advertised job you can really get ahead of the pack by showing you have carefully read the advertisement.
Some really simple actions that are often ignored are:
- writing in proper sentences
- addressing the person in the right terms - don't presume all business people are men, if you're not sure, start with Dear Madam/Sir,
- answering individual points in the role's description and requirements
- providing a short resume with the offer of a more detailed one if required
- send a job reference
Create a professional and good impression of yourself that demonstrates respect for all involved.
Dream Job Tip 3
Another easy way to get ahead of the pack is when you know who the business is show that you have taken the time to look at their website and have an understanding of the business.
Read their blog, follow them online and get an understanding for them. To a prospective employer this demonstrates initiative, maturity, care and respect.
Dream Job Tip 4
Compare and contrast the skills you have and the skills your ideal role requires. Do they match up? Where are the gaps? Then focus on filling the gaps with a combination of institutional training (University and Tafe) and self education.
Formal educational qualifications are more important than ever for women these days. There might be a lot more equality for women now than 50 years ago but it still is an uneven playing field and gets flattened out more with teritery education. Degrees open doors through out your life and have a serious long term benefit. While self-education is a must for everyone all the time, whether that be for professional development or personal enjoyment.
Dream Job Tip 5
Internships are a great way of getting experience, networking and training. While the idea of internships is far more familiar in the US it is growing here to be more than just a two week work experience stint in year 10.
While most internships are unpaid they can be very flexible ranging from just four hours a week for six months to full time for six weeks. The key to making an internship work is picking the right business and having a clear discussion about expectations and requirements on both sides. You can also use internships to fill the skills gaps and do a series of them to meet your experience needs.
Online job websites can be great for finding internships. You can also directly approach businesses or go through a fee charging agency. Do treat applications for internships with the same professionalism you would for any other job.
Dream Job Tip 6
Volunteering with a charity can also be a great way of gaining experience although it usually doesn't offer training. It can be more beneficial for getting work experience with the skills you've learnt through University or Tafe.
Dream Job Tip 7
Create yourself a profile online that fits with the role and the industry you want to get into so when your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profiles are checked they fit with what you say is important to you and can do. Social media profiles are public and represent you to a very large audience. Be smart, make them work for you.
Dream Job Tip 8
If you want to get into an industry that has a public side to it such as fashion, PR, design, music, events, marketing and advertising, media, arts etc, creating yourself a strong topic focused following online can be very powerful.
It demonstrates industry knowledge, understanding, creates connections and offers that others just don't even hear about, gives you credibility and a profile and opens doors.
Dream Job Tip 9
Creating your own blog around the industry you want to get into is a great way to get a following and open doors. For instance, you're studying fashion, styling and photography then a blog with regular posts on fashion and showcasing your styling and photography skills is an obvious step.
Starting a blog is easy, learning how to make it successful and what to avoid is easy too with all the great free online articles and courses.
From running your own blog you'll learn about audience interests, writing clearly, posting regularly, creating routines for yourself so you can succeed, industry details as you research topics, who are the key influencers in the field and a whole heap more - all very valuable and employable skills taught to yourself through self-education and training.
You'll be amazed at the opportunities that come your way when you have a blog - people think you are a self-starter and can make things happen and they want to work with you.
Dream Job Tip 10
Find ways to stay motivated. Knock backs can be crushing but they don't have to be if you choose to let them go lightly. Getting 20 no's before a yes isn't unusual, so it's really important you can hang in there long enough to get the yes you're after.
While getting your dream job is really personal and important for you finding ways to roll with the punches can mean not taking the negative to heart and celebrating the good. Have friends you can laugh with, develop resilience skills that will help you bounce back and have the positive attitude you need for yourself and for interviews.
Dream Job Tip 11
Look for any patterns - maybe the roles you're going for don't match your skills, maybe the prospective employer isn't getting to read your message clearly enough, maybe someone else is presenting what they can offer in a way that is easier to say yes to.
None of that is personal, all of that can be changed and tailored to what's going to create a yes. But it can be as simple as going about things the wrong way and taking a step back to look at what you're doing from a different perspective.
Dream Job Tip 12
Working with a life or careers coach can be really empowering too. It doesn't suit everyone and you do need to actively participate in the experience. Coaches don't give your answers and do it all for you, they are there to help enable you to bring out your potential.
Coaches can also be great at helping you discover what you really want to be doing - coming through the murk of everyday and feeling dissatisfied and not knowing why to finding clarity. Once you know what you want to do it can be a lot easier to make it happen.
Finding Your Own Path
We've all worked the tedious jobs that get us through financially while we find ways to get into the field and role of our dreams. There are valuable skills and life lessons to be learnt from them and sometimes one of the biggest lessons can be what we don't want to do. The trick is in making the most of the situation with good grace and to grow from the experience.
If you're in an area with high youth unemployment there are often a range of government (local, state and federal) as well as nonprofit agencies offering help with job readiness - reviewing skills and gaps, training and education, job boards, interview training etc. These are often promoted in the local paper, through the council, via Business Enterprise Centres, online and through local groups. Seek them out and get involved.
Usually the path to really satisfying work is different to what we expect it to be. Adaptability and a readiness to learn what's needed to create what we want can be the most empowering gifts we can give to ourselves.