How to Get Your Dream Job (A Management Consultant’s Guide)

A lot of people are not satisfied with their current jobs.

A popular study revealed that more than 50% of employees are dissatisfied with their current jobs. And that as much as 20% hate the work they do. Imagine hating something you spend over 50% of your waking hours doing? It must be truly frustrating.

This post seeks to help you get your dream job i.e. leaving the job you don’t like for the one you love.

The post proposes steps you can take to increase your chances of landing your dream job. We are optimistic that taking the outlined steps will give you both clarity and increase your chances by as much as 70%. We should warn you; the steps can be a mentally tasking if you have not gone through a similar process before. It however promises to be worthwhile especially if you feel stuck..

1. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM JOB: This is the starting point. You cannot score a goal if you don’t know were the goal post is.

So, do you know your dream job?

If the answer is yes, please jump to section (b). Otherwise, continue reading.

(a) Not sure what your dream job is?

Not a problem.

Many of us had no idea what our dream job was when we started out. So you are in good company. We tell our clients that they can only know what they know. What does that mean? Let me use an illustration.

Do you know what a Decoy Executive is? Do you know how much the job pays or whether it provides a great work life balance? Probably not. Why are we so certain? Because it is unlikely that you will want a job title you have never heard about before..

So, we therefore propose the following steps for those we are not sure of their dream jobs:

  • make a list of the things that are important to you when it comes to a job i.e. if its higher pay, work-life balance, prestige, proximity to a particular place, etc
  • do extensive google research on the type of jobs that can provide you with the things you listed above.
  • Select which the jobs best suit your values
  • Lastly, select the ones you are willing to do what it takes to make you a qualified candidate

(b) You have an idea of your dream job:

The next steps are:

  • look up the job descriptions and job responsibilities of your dream job title i.e. via google search
  • collate a minimum of 5 different job descriptions of your dream job title
  • identify functions and responsibilities common to all the job descriptions you have collated (the common functions are usually the most important aspects of the job title)
  • Delete the other functions
  • Number the job functions remaining

For example, this is the common job responsibilities for the role of a Digital marketer:

(i) Develop content and SEO strategy aligned with short-term and long-term marketing targets

(ii) Develop and monitor campaign budgets.

(iii) Plan and manage our social media platforms.

(iv) Prepare accurate reports on our marketing campaign’s overall performance.

(v) Identify the latest trends and technologies affecting our ecommerce industry.

(vi) Evaluate important metrics that affect our website traffic, service quotas, and target audience.

The next phase requires a break down of each job responsibility into its simplest component. For example if we chose the third responsibility of a Digital marketer, the breakdown will look like this:

To Develop and monitor campaign budgets
  • Develop campaign
    • To drive engagement (social media & website)
    • To drive conversion
    • To drive traffic
    • To drive revenue
  • Develop campaign budget
    • How much money to spend
    • How much goes to each tactic – social media, email, SEM etc
    • What tools to use and how much they cost
    • Other expenses
  • Monitor campaign
    • Monitor level of engagement
    • Monitor level of conversion
    • Track changes in traffic
    • Track impact of campaign in revenue
  • Monitor campaign budget
    • etc”

Breaking down the job function will give you clarity on the type of skills and experience you need to acquire to position you as a qualified candidate for the position in future.

2. ACQUIRE RELEVANT EXPERIENCE:  Many tech companies are now more interested in the skill and experience you bring to the table than your education or certificate.

If your dream job is the type of job that experience overrides certificate, then you need to take proactive steps to acquire each of the skills you derived after breaking down each job function in (1b) above.

For example, if your dream job is to be an HR manager and your research shows that knowledge of HR related legislation and payroll is among the key requirements. You may consider enrolling in short courses (like HR professionals guide to navigating Nigerian employment laws and PAYE tax computation) and taking up specific volunteer positions that will enable apply the knowledge gained from such programs.

A proper breakdown of the job functions/ responsibilities in (1b) is a very important factor in the success of this stage.

3. QUALIFICATIONS: If your dream job will require qualifications, you will have to take a long term approach by planning how to enroll and fund your education. 

For example, if your desire is to be a Partner in a top law firm, going to a law school is a key requirement. A lot of senior lawyers are known to have enrolled in MBAs to improve their business acumen which enables them advise their clients from a core business perspective.

You may therefore need to have a 5 year plan if qualifications is a major requirement for your dream job. 5 years may look like a long time. What you need to realize is that the clock is always ticking whether you plan for it or not. So it is always better you plan ahead.

We won’t sped time on this section as a lot of companies are now focusing on skills rather than academic qualifications.

4. BENCHMARK: This step involves you looking for someone who is already doing your dream job and who appears to be exceptionally good at it.

We advise you make friends with him/her, study the person with the hope of discovering what makes such a person a great fit for the job. It is a good idea if the person knows you see him/her as a job mentor.

You then mirror the good traits in that person. For those of us who desires to remain authentic, mirror a person does not stop you from being authentic. It only helps you acquire the relevant traits faster.

Moreover, such a person can give you an insider’s perspective on the job and the fastest way to get one.

5. YOUR WEAKNESSES: After going through steps (1) to (4), you should start noticing areas in your skill set that needs improvement.

For example, to be a successful lawyer in a prestigious law firm, you must be not only be a great communicator, you must also have great body language, charisma, and be comfortable having conversations with senior management.

If you currently don’t have charisma and are timid around senior management, it may be useful to start taking active steps to overcome such weaknesses.

Also, many people are not very good with interviews. Unfortunately the only way to be good at interviews is by going to many interviews or engaging in several mock interviews.

We therefore suggest you do several mock interviews before you are invited to a real interview. This will help you correct your body language and stand you out from the crowd.

Great writing skill is also one important skills many candidate lack. We suggest you take short courses that will improve your writing skills.

On a final note, there are a lot of factors that influence your ability to get your dream job and some of them are not within your control. Our approach is for you to focus on your area of influence so as to improve your chances of living the type of life you want.