In a recent story Let’s lose the idea of a ‘dream job’, Author Rainesford Stauffer said candidates need to let go of the expectation, or fantasy, that we will find fulfillment through our work. Some recruiters lead cold emails or calls with hyperbole like, ‘Are you looking for your dream job’ or ‘Here’s the next step in your dream career’. Maybe I’m a little too cynical but I am not one who believes it is a recruiters job to find someone their “Dream Job”. Why? It isn’t because they don’t exist, it’s more because the definition of ‘dream job’ is different for everyone.
So how do you determine your ‘dream job’? Here are a couple of steps to define what that perfect job looks like for you.
Everyone knows the cliché about enjoy finding something you enjoy and it won’t feel like work. I’m sorry but I love what I do and there are times it still feels like work. If you’re looking for a job that every day is a stint in a themed party, that’s incredibly unrealistic. The more important metric to measure when evaluating a new opportunity is the ability to do work you find meaningful.
As an example, my college-aged daughter recently decided that she wants to go into law. She’s bounced around a number of career options over the last year but has been stuck on studying law for the last couple of months. I was a bit concerned about her choice because I just didn’t hear the excitement in her voice when she discussed the ‘why’ of becoming a lawyer.
Last week, she called me late one night with an epiphany. She remembered that the university she wants to transfer to has a concentration in Sustainability that really interested her. Her passion for the environment has never waned since she was in middle school. The idea that she could major in something she’s passionate about and then use her law degree to make impactful change sparked an excitement in her voice I hadn’t heard with some of her other choices.
She had finally found something that she defined as meaningful and now, all of the work she will have to do to get to that pinnacle is worth it. That’s the basic definition of finding meaningful work.
So let’s just get this out: work/life balance is a farce. I think the pandemic has finally forced us to reexamine this definition and focus more on what it really needs to be: work/life integration.
Now that the bulk of the working population has a taste of integrating work and life, I think it’ll be a difficult adjustment for most to go back to the rush hour traffic, competing schedules and chaotic life most experienced before being forced to work from home.
The ability to integrate work in ones life has now become an integral part of the career selection process for most candidates. Most of the candidates I have spoken with recently have asked about the ability to either work solely from home or be have a hybrid approach to their work schedules. The ability to give 150% to your job without sacrificing time with loved ones is definitely an added benefit for most who are looking for that dream job.
It will be interesting to watch how the workforce reacts to organizations that mandate 100% in the office. The pending Great Resignation is adding pressure to retention rates in a highly competitive and challenge talent market. For most candidates who are considering making a move, the ability to have a work-life integration will be paramount in their evaluation of their next “dream job”.
A defined career path
I recently reviewed exit survey data to determine which retention strategies would be best for our firm. I guess I went into the study assuming that compensation or benefits would be the number 1 and 2 for reasons why employees were exiting the company. To my surprise, number 2 was the lack of a career path.
Companies have gotten away from providing new hires or employees in general clear paths of progression within the firm. While I hate the use of career pathing in siloed companies, there is obviously some benefit for employees who want to chart out the steps in their career. The past five years has made the straight-line to promotion a lot more ambiguous but I don’t believe this is a reason for companies not to provide some type of direction to employees who want to better themselves with the company.
Many of the recent graduates I’ve spoken with over the last month has asked about the career path if they were to join my firm. I think most of us would expect this out of a recent graduate, but I’ve noticed a shift in seasoned professionals considering the same before making a jump to a new company. It’s interesting to think how establishing a roadmap for career progression could be considered a determining factor in a candidate’s definition of a ‘dream job’ but I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising.
Our brains are naturally wired to want to know what’s next. Many of us still use a maps app on our phone to traverse through our hometowns to avoid traffic delays or find new ways to get to the same destination. There’s a comfort in knowing that although I may know the way, I have a tool that can give me tips on how to get there quicker or avoid a ticket. The same is true for candidates in today’s talent marketplace. They may think they know what the next steps in their career are, but a company that offers a map of what options are available might have a competitive edge in today’s turbulent market.
While I don’t agree with the idea that we need to let go of the expectation, or fantasy, that we will find fulfillment through our work, I do agree we should spend more time properly defining what that dream job looks like. Recruiters can help candidates through this process! Take the time to learn more about what the candidate wants and needs and less about how they can fit into the box of the job description. This will help you find the right candidate, for the right role at the right time.
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