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How To Land That Dream Job

by Jennie Wilson

I have always imagined myself as a chef.  While I was taking calls at the insurance agency I worked for, I was thinking about my next recipe for shrimp scampi.  Ever fantasize about quitting your job and going after your dream career?  Do you spend too much time at work on tasks you hate?  It may be time to switch.  Most of us don’t stick with the same occupation forever.   How can you maximize your chances of success?  Here’s advice from those who’ve done it and those who’ve helped them through.

  • Make Choices.  “Some people have a passion and know exactly what they want to do,” notes career expert Carole Hyatt.  “But most of us have no idea what our next job should be.”  Narrow the field with these strategies.  Make sure you dislike your current career-not just your job. “Many times people are doing the right work, just in the wrong place”, Hyatt says.  “If you hate your boss or your commute, a new job in the same line may be the only change you need.”
  • Consider Your Hobbies.  Carol Sweetapple, 53, of San Jose, CA, felt burned out after 20 years in public relations.  “I analyzed what brought me the most pleasure at home, and that was gardening,” she says.  She now works for a seed company while taking classes toward certification in nursery management and landscape horticulture.
  • Get professional advice.  Free or low-cost career counseling and aptitude testing are available at many colleges, universities, and state employment offices.
  • Read Books.  A good source is the annually updated What Color is Your Parachute?  By Richard Nelson Bolles.  It includes worksheets, charts, and tables to help you pinpoint your own skills and aptitudes.  Those worried about being too old can find help in Second Careers:  New Ways to Work After 50, by Caroline Bird.
  • Test the Waters.  “Get experience before you invest time and money in training and job hunting”, advises career counselor Barbara Sher.  Here’s how: 
    • Volunteer: If you’re thinking about nursing, volunteer at a hospital.  Radio broadcasting?  Read for the blind.
    • Network: Call everyone you know and ask if they know someone who does the work you’d like.
    • Transfer Your Skills:  If you’re a bookkeeper who would love to be involved in athletics, look for a bookkeeping position in a sports-medicine complex or a health club.

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