It has been said that dream jobs are not found but created. In my twenty-plus years as a career counselor I can attest to that wisdom! The first key to creating a dream job is knowing what makes it “ideal.” Just like beauty, ideal jobs exist in the eyes of each beholder.
One person’s perfect work schedule, say 3:00 p.m. until midnight would be someone else’s perfect nightmare. Another worker’s ideal boss who offers a large range of independence and autonomy can be another person’s idea of confusion, disorganization, and tension producing ambiguity.
The first step in creating an ideal job is first and foremost to recognize what is “ideal” to each worker. Workplace features that can make a job perfector perfectly dreadful can include any combination of the following:
- Work schedule—this may include working intermittent hours throughout the day, variable or alternating shifts, working three consecutive days followed by three or four days off or some other form of traditional or non-traditional schedule.
- Employment status –this includes working part-time or full-time as an employee, independent contractor or being self-employed in one’s own business.
- Workstyle—some people enjoy working with others, some people prefer working alone with information or data and others like working with things. Some peoples’ preferences involve some combination of two or three work style orientations; people, data and/or things.
- Environment—the “ideal” work setting can be in an office, in a home, at a store or in a forest. Some workers like dressing up, others prefer casual wear, and some would rather work at home in their bedroom slippers. Putting on a uniform or a bathroom can help make a job wonderful or an annoying obstacle to overcome.
- Income –One preference is to have a reliable, predictable salary while other people may thrive on remunerations based on commission, bonuses or other financial incentives.
- Colleagues –Individuals can thrive best in work settings that offer a lot of peer collaboration or workplace relationships that emulate something between “friends” and “family.” Others would rather work alone while others may prefer a mixture of peer relationships and independence.
- Superiors –Bosses can manage and supervise in a variety of styles. Knowing whether you enjoy more autonomy or direction, more camaraderie or individuality can also help you create workplace set-up that is more to your liking.
Once you are sure about how these factors stack up for you, you can begin seeking jobs that are more apt to fit your personal style and preferences. Other parts of obtaining an “ideal” job can be negotiated once you are hired and establish yourself as a reliable and trusted worker. Employers are far more willing to accommodate someone who produces desired results, shows him/herself to be honorable and dependable, and can articulate how workplace adaptations such as telecommuting from home or flexing
hours can be beneficial not only to you, the worker but to the organization as a whole. It may take some time to turn your good job into an “ideal” job by negotiating some workplace attributes more to your individual liking but that is why ideal jobs are not found but created over time. Creating your ideal job can be a highly worthwhile and gratifying investment in your long-term career satisfaction.