Monday, April 5, 2010

4 Ways to Land Your Dream Job

I have a dream job, I really do. Who would’ve imagined that an obsession with social media—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, etc.—could lead to a career? It’s amazing. And I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.

But things weren’t always this rosy.

Unfortunately for me, I graduated during one of the worst economic periods in our country’s history. It took nine months and a lot of sacrifice to reach where I am, and I learned a lot along the way.

Here are some general lessons that will help guide you along the journey to landing your dream job.

Do what you love.
What are you good at? Seriously, what can you spend hours doing without ever realizing it? There’s got to be something that you enjoy more than anything else. Find it and focus on it. At the end of the day, your happiness is what matters most. The only way to reach that happiness is to take what you love and turn it into a career. Your parents may want to kill you—and will probably give you lectures about medical benefits and saving for retirement—but throw caution to the wind and go for it, even if you have to be a “starving artist” for a while.

Specialize in something – but be good at everything.
Find your niche. If you’re interested in graphic design, which type? Do you enjoy publication design? Branding? Illustration? Pattern making? If you want to be a photographer, what type? Do you like runway photography? Catalogue shoots? Prop styling?

At the same time, though, you need to be a chameleon. Your boss would love nothing more than to hear, “I can do that, too!” Always remember to stay true to your personality and brand, but know when to adapt. Your style comes second to what your client wants or boss demands.

Networking is not about first-degree connections.
Think of your network as a web: you’re at the center and your immediate connections surround you. You can try all you want to get a job or internship through those first-degree connections, but chances are that they have the same connections as you! The further removed a connection is, the wider “net” you can cast in your search. It’s not about whom you know—it’s about whom those key second, third and even fourth-degree connections know. Most likely, their connections won’t be in your network—and that’s a good thing! Nurture these relationships and be ready to tell them all about what you specialize in and what you have to offer.

Have a destination in mind.
Where do you want to be in a year? How about five years? Where do you want to end up? These are questions you must ask yourself in order to guide your journey to your dream job. Without a final destination—a goal—you’re blind and powerless. Would you travel cross-country without a destination address? Exactly. Have a plan—it’s okay to stray from it as long as you know you can still get to where you want to go.

These are extremely simple, I know. But it’s the simple things in life we forget.

Have any other time-tested truths to landing a dream job? Share them in the comments! Then send this to a friend. Good advice never gets old (hey, I can toot my own horn a little bit, right?).

Photo via Veronica Sharon. (She's my roommate and an awesome photog, check her out!)


  1. Short and sweet: Have a perspective and keep your attitude in check! Viewing everything as a means to an end or as a learning experience gives you perspective and allows you to take everything in stride. Friends are a great resource for this, but true strength and courage has to come from within -- having a positive attitude.

  2. Hi, Chris:
    I know this may seem a bit random, but Mark Levit suggested that i be acquainted with you. I suppose i am also taking your advice (the networking one)--I recently graduated as an ad major from UM and am currently seeking a job in NYC. In fact, i had intended to help out with the yearbook's design team, but never got the chance to (i owe Ken!). Maybe we would know each other by now if i had!
    Anyway, just trying to "expand my web" and follow Mark's advice by getting to know you.

    My name is Wendy, by the way. I'll send this via FB in case you don't get this.

    Have a great Sunday!