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How To Find Your Dream Job


By Brett Nelson, Forbes.com
Special to Online Career Tips

What to be when you grow up? In this economy, the first answer may well be “employed.” Dream job? Dream on.

Newsflash: You can do better.

No doubt there are bills to pay right now. That makes it even harder to stay focused on what you really want and are willing to fight for. Yet focus is exactly what it takes to land your dream job—that, and healthy doses of confidence and hard work.

How to know if you’re heading down the right path? Possessing talent for a given line of work is important, of course, but talent is just one ingredient in the recipe of success.

Here’s a simple formula for making tailored, confident career decisions en route to your dream job.

The formula calculates a “confidence factor”—between 0% and 100%—based on a series of 10 variables that represent fundamental aspects of doing just about any kind of paid work. Each variable is weighted based on its importance to your overall career decision, with the understanding that 1) not all aspects of a job are created equal, and 2) life is full of tradeoffs. (That goes for entrepreneurs, too.)

The higher the confidence factor (CF), the better the job for you. A CF below 60% means you should think twice about that next gig; between 61% and 75%, you’re on the right track; above 75%, go for it; and if you’re at 90% or higher, consider your career truly blessed. (This isn’t a rigorously scientific approach, to be sure, but it certainly will help you clarify your thoughts and make better decisions.)

Calculating your CF is really easy: For each variable, assess the level—between 0% and 100%—at which you feel the job meets that particular aspect of doing it. For example, if you’re pretty sure the Compensation is generous, you might assign that variable a level of 95%. On the other hand, if you think the Culture of the firm too stiff for your taste, you might assign that variable a level of 15%. Each variable is weighted by multiplying by a coefficient—the more important variables get larger coefficients, and all coefficients sum to 1.

Just plug those percentage levels in for each variable, add up the terms, and out pops your CF.

Here’s the formula, followed by the definition of each variable:

CF = .2x(Compensation) + .15x(Satisfaction) + .15x(Opportunity) + .1x(Commitment) + .1x(Culture) + .1x(Health) + .05x(Location) + .05x(Teamwork) + .05x(Number of hats) + .05x(Business or retail)


Variable Definitions:

— Compensation: Does the job pay enough (including benefits)? Does it meet your needs in the near term? Answer from 0% to 100%.

— Satisfaction: Do you truly enjoy and respect the work you’ll be doing, versus just doing the work you know how to do? (Sniff test: Could you lose two hours over lunch talking shop just because it interested you?) Answer from 0% to 100%.

— Opportunity: If the job isn’t exactly scintillating, is it a solid step to get where you want to go? Answer from 0% to 100%.

— Commitment: Does the job offer enough time to achieve other goals, see your family, etc.? Answer from 0% to 100%.

— Culture: Do the people and working environment agree with you? (This will vary quite a bit between, say, a large corporation and a scrappy start-up.) Answer from 0% to 100%.

— Health: Is the company (and the industry in which it competes) thriving or struggling? Whatever the answer, how okay are you with it, from 0% to 100%?

— Location: Is the job in an agreeable locale? Answer from 0% to 100%.

— Teamwork: Does the job involve working in teams or being a loan wolf? Whatever the answer, how okay are you with it, from 0% to 100%?

— Number of hats: Will the job involve doing the same sort of work (crunching numbers) or handling an array of tasks (business development)? Whatever the answer, how okay are you with it, from 0% to 100%?

— Business or retail: Will you be working with other companies or directly with the public? Whatever the answer, how okay are you with it, from 0% to 100%?

Don’t agree with the weightings of each variable? No problem: Just tweak the coefficients to reflect how you tick and where you are in your career.

For example, if you think that the Satisfaction variable is more important than the Commitment variable, bump up the Satisfaction coefficient from .15 to .2 and lower the Commitment coefficient to from .1 to .05. If you deem a few variables totally irrelevant to your job hunt, eliminate them from the equation. Just make sure after tweaking that all the coefficients still add up to 1.

Garbage-in, garbage-out here, folks. When entering the percentages and adjusting the coefficients, try to be as honest as you can given what you know about yourself and the job you’re after. Again, the goal of this exercise is to guide your hunt for a fulfilling career. Finding the right fit will give you the best chance to thrive in an increasingly competitive economy. Talent alone won’t cut it.

Best of luck—and remember the old saying: “Every day you spend doing that is one less spent doing this.”

Have any advice about finding a dream job? Please comment on this post.



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