By Rachel Dhaliwal
Contributor, Career Services
So, you have this dream. You’ve finally decided on the career you want to pursue (or you just heard about it yesterday, and thought it sounded pretty cool), but you don’t know what it’s going to take to get there, or really even if you’re qualified. Whether you’re just starting out or you are considering a career change, forewarned is forearmed. You owe it to yourself to go into this with both eyes open, so here are some resources you can use to get yourself started on your crash course in “The Reality of My Dream Job.”
First, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). It was created and is maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so as far as reliability goes, it’s hard to beat. Within the OOH, you can find out the pay, projected growth, state and area data, work environment, and more about your dream job. For our purposes here, however, you should pay particular attention to the “How to Become One” tab. This is where you will find out what educational background one can expect, as well as whether or not — and which — certifications, licensures or registrations will be needed.
Next, visit O*NET OnLine. Here, you will find a lot of great information as well, but my favorite part is the “Sample of Reported Job Titles” near the top of the page. This is useful information because neither every person nor every company uses the same job title for the same type of work. For instance, one could be called an Operations Manager, Operations Director or Production Manager, and all will be doing rather identical jobs. Use these alternate job titles in the next step to broaden your hits.
Enter your dream job title into your preferred job board and gather ten or so vacancy announcements that appeal to you. Compare and contrast them, making note of which qualifications show up most often. This is how you find out where you stand now, in relation to where you want to be. Do you need more experience? More training? A license? Now, you have more information to make better-informed decisions.
Finally, go to LinkedIn and type your desired title and industry into the search bar. Go through the results and see what kinds of things those people have done in their past. Look at their schooling. Look at their years of experience and work history. How did they get where they are today? Did they take a direct or a circuitous route? Did they get promoted from within, come from a competitor or get hired on after an internship? Also, don’t be afraid to contact some of these people and ask them for advice! You’d be surprised how many people are willing to help and mentor others.
Once you have all of this information gathered, it’s time to sit down and put it all together. What are the most common requirements for education and training, years and type of experience, and certifications/licenses? Now how do you compare to that?
Hopefully, you will be pleased to discover that you’ve got most of that covered. If not, now you have an idea of where you may fall short in relation to other candidates, and you can begin taking steps to close that gap between your dream and your new reality.
Ready When You Are
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