A Step By Step Guide To Landing Your Dream Job

A Step By Step Guide To Landing Your Dream Job

When it comes to building wealth, a lot of people in the personal finance community will suggest you focus on increasing your savings rate. Although this is sound advice, it’s not the only way you can accelerate your wealth building process. This is your comprehensive guide to landing your next dream job.

What if you have already squeezed the last dollar in your wallet but still fail to make ends meet? What if you are so deep in debt that it feels like you are never going to dig yourself out of it? You might have to look beyond saving more money. You probably need to make more money!

No matter where you are in your current job, you can always dig yourself out of your present situation and move to a better job that not only pays well but also improves your overall quality of life. Today I will share with you a step by step guide to land your next dream job.

1. Describe Your Dream Job

This is the very first step in the process and lays the foundation for every other step that follows. I urge you to spend some quality time here to list down exactly what you expect from your dream job. In this step, I want you to spend time focusing on ‘Why’ you would consider a certain job as your dream job. Don’t worry about the ‘How’ part of it for now, we will get there. What is it about the job that would make you wake up every single day and give the best you can. In other words, find out what motivates you to pick a certain job and give your fullest.

Describe Your Dream Job

How to determine if it’s a dream job?

  1. Does the job offer you work you love to do?
  2. Does the job offer an opportunity to enhance your skills and expand them?
  3. Does the work culture of the company resonate with you?
  4. Does the job offer you a salary and benefits you are looking for?
  5. Is the job aligned with your long term career goals?

Outcome

You should have a written description of your dream job and what your expectation out of the job is going to be. You need to spend enough time here to avoid any regrets later on. This is a very crucial step.

2. Shortlist Companies To Apply For

Once you describe what your dream job looks like, your next step is to identify the companies that operate in your area of interest. If your dream job happens to be in the same industry as you are currently employed, it’s pretty straight forward. You already know enough about the industry, all you need to do now is to learn about the companies. If that’s not the case, I want you to spend some time researching about the industry. Make sure you find out as much information as you can about the top companies of the industry. Once you identify the companies that operate in your niche, it’s time to categorize them and rank them. This process helps you apply to them, starting from the least favorable ones to the most favorable ones. I don’t want you to fail your interview with your dream company first. Hence it’s very important to classify and rank these companies.

How to shortlist the companies?

  1. Classify the companies you wish to interview with into 3 tiers – Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3.
  2. A few guidelines to use while classifying the companies into different tiers:
    1. Company Size
    2. Career Growth Potential
    3. Opportunity To Acquire New Skills
    4. Work Culture
    5. Salary & Benefits
  3. Assign a score of to the shortlisted companies using a scale of 1 – 10, lowest to highest, for each category and classify them into different tiers based on the total score.
    1. Tier 1 – Total: > 40
    2. Tier 2 – Total: Between 20 and 40
    3. Tier 3 – Total: < 20
Shortlist Companies You Wish To Interview

Outcome

You should have a short list of all the companies you wish to interview with and ranked them based on your preference. They should fall into one of the three tiers.

3. Identify Key Skills Required To Excel In Your Dream Job

One of the secrets to landing a high paying job is to learn skills that are in demand and where there is a scarcity of talented professionals to fulfill the open positions. It’s a no brainer that if the demand is high and the supply is low, you’ll get paid top dollars for the job.

If you want to land a job that pays in the top 20% of the salary in your industry, you need to acquire skills that only the top 20% of the people possess. Find out what those top skills are and work out a plan to acquire those skills. You can look at some job boards like Glassdoor or Indeed to find out the top skills that get compensated highly. Your sweet spot lies somewhere between skills which interest you and those which have the highest demand in the job market. Try to get as close to the sweet spot as possible.

How to acquire the missing skills?

  1. Gone are those days when you had to look for a classroom-based course to learn a new skill set. These days you can find a lot of material you wish to master, being offered as an online course. I would highly recommend looking up for any relevant course material you can get your hands on. E.g. If you wish to get a job in coding, you might look at some sites like Udemy or Lynda and purchase one of the relevant courses. Sometimes these materials can also be available for free on Youtube. Grab something that has good reviews from other people and something that lets you complete the course on your own time schedule.
  2. If you are just getting started on a subject, I would suggest you look at recommended books on that subject. You can either buy them or borrow them from your local library. You can look for some suggestions on popular Q&A sites like Reddit or Quora. You’ll find plenty of help to get started. Both of these platforms have democratized information sharing and have pretty high-quality content for almost any topic you can think of. You’ll get lots of recommendations from people there. Make full use of the advice you receive here.
  3. Although I am not a big proponent of certifications I do know that some of them can be a great credential booster, especially if you wish to get your foot in the door in some industries. I would encourage you to look at reputed certifications offered in your area of interest and get one. This can add a lot of credibility to your resume.
Acquire the missing skills

Outcome

You should have identified the gaps in your skills and worked out a plan on acquiring them. Focus all of your time and energy on skills that matter the most and those which have the maximum applicability in your dream job.

4. Work On Your Resume

When you are stuck in a job for a long time, it’s very easy to let your resume go outdated. Now is the time to dust off and start working on updating your resume. Your resume is the first thing a recruiter notices, make sure you spend ample time fine-tuning it to the job you are applying for. You can find some great resume templates to start with at zety or resume.io. You can even look up few resumes from job portals like Indeed to fine-tune your resume to get started. The key thing here is to make sure your resume is solid and able to hold the attention of the recruiter. So make sure you spend some quality time coming up with a resume that highlights all the relevant work experience and skills. This is your chance to leave a great first impression with the recruiters. Don’t let it go wasted!

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How to write a killer resume?

  1. Try to keep your resume crisp and to the point. A hiring manager or recruiter typically spend anywhere between 30-60 seconds glossing over your resume. If they can’t find all the relevant information they need, your resume will be lost in the pile. Always include the relevant skills and achievements right at the top. Your goal is to maximize the content for effectiveness and put relevant information all the way at the top.
  2. Always proofread your resume and double check before uploading it to any job portal. There is nothing more upsetting than finding a resume with lots of grammatical mistakes or typos. Avoid them at all costs.
  3. When you apply for a specific position, make sure you include the relevant keywords posted on the job description as part of your resume. This can be a crucial factor in deciding if your resume will be shortlisted or ignored.
  4. Always list your most recent relevant experience first and go on in the reverse chronological order. When you describe a particular job you held, make sure you word them in a way that tells what your roles and responsibilities were and how you contributed to the project. If you can provide concrete metrics, it would be great.
  5. Make sure your contact information like email address and phone number are right at the top of your resume. Verify they are correct. Nothing disappoints a recruiter more than finding an email that bounces back or a phone number that’s not reachable. I would highly recommend you open a different email address specifically to apply for jobs since you can track all of those conversations separately.
Fine tune your resume

Result

You should have your resume updated and ready to upload it to all the different job portals. Hold on, before you jump straight into that. There is one more step I want you to complete before you go full swing and upload your resume online.

5. Practice Through Mock Interviews

If you haven’t interviewed for a job in a while, the whole process of job hunting can be very daunting and frustrating. You might face a lot of anxiety and it definitely helps to have someone that can help you in this process. I call them your interview buddies. They are your accountability partner of sorts. They could even be fellow job hunters. If that’s the case, nothing like it. They can conduct mock interviews and provide some valuable feedback. If you have trouble finding someone in person check out some mock interview sites mock interview practice online to practice interviews online.

How to make the most out of your mock interviews?

  1. Set the right expectations with your interview buddy so that you ensure they are focusing on the right things when they evaluate you on your mock interview performance. Since the whole process involves assessing multiple aspects, it can be helpful to break up each session and focus on one thing at a time.
  2. Make sure you take as many mock interviews as possible before applying for real jobs. Since these are low stake opportunities and you can afford to make some mistakes, you are more likely to commit the mistakes now than during real interviews. Use this time to try out different interview techniques so you have little surprises during an actual interview.
  3. These days it’s possible to look up a company on GlassDoor or other online portals and find out a lot about the companies you wish to interview. Make sure your mock interviews are very similar to the companies actual interview process. If the actual interview process has multiple rounds and focus on different aspects of your job, ensure you do the same during mock interviews too.
Practice through mock interviews

Outcome

Mock interviews should help you eliminate a lot of fear in you regarding the interview process and boost your confidence levels. So go take as many mock interviews as possible. Practice makes perfect.

6. Applying For Jobs

Now that you have been part of several mock interviews, you should start applying for jobs at companies you have short listed. There are some really helpful job sites like Indeed.com, LinkedIn.com, ZipRecruiter.com, etc which can help you upload your resume and let recruiters know you are in the market for a job. Make sure you create a professional profile of yourself on these portals and upload your resume to the relevant jobs.

How to effectively manage your job application process?

  1. One of the best ways to ensure you get a call back is to apply for a job through an employee referral. This is a win-win situation for both parties since companies typically offer a handsome referral bonus to the employee that referred you, if you get hired. So make sure you try to find someone in your network who works at the company to which you wish to apply.
  2. Always start applying for the jobs in Tier 3, then Tier 2 and finally Tier 1. This gives you another level of margin, in case you goof up interviews. No matter how prepared you are, interviews can catch you off guard. So apply first to those companies which are shortlisted yet least desirable.
  3. Always have a different email address that you can use for job hunting, which is different from the one you use for personal use. This makes it easy to not miss any notifications you may receive from recruiters or employers. This step is crucial since a lot of times you can lose an important message from a recruiter about an exciting opportunity if you don’t pay attention.
  4. One hack I found very useful is to come up with a spreadsheet that basically tracks every application you applied, date and status of the application. This can help you track your progress and note down any comments after each interaction. It will give you valuable insights about how many jobs you applied, how many did you hear back from, how many did you make it to the in-person interviews, how many translated to offers etc.
Apply for the jobs at companies you have shortlisted

Outcome

You should have created a profile on different job portals and have your resume updated on each one of them. This can be very tedious process but having a shortlist of companies you wish to apply for helps. So make sure you are laser focused on what jobs you apply for.

7. The Actual Interview Process

This is where the rubber meets the road. The moment you have been waiting for all this while is finally here. Every company has a different interview process but it can be broadly broken down to 2-3 steps. The first step usually involves a call with a recruiter who would typically walk you through the details of the open position and try to understand if you are a good fit. It’s obviously your first victory to make it past the pile of resumes. Use this opportunity to understand if this is really a good fit or not based on your call with the recruiter. Show some enthusiasm on the call and let the recruiter know if this is a good fit and ask for the next steps. The next step could a technical discussion with some one on the team you’d be working on. It could be either a phone screen or an in-person interview.

How to prepare for the next rounds?

  1. Study as much as you can about the specific position you have started interviewing for. Now is a great time to know about the products, technology or business model of the company. Who are some of the biggest clients of the company? Gather information about the company culture by sifting through Quora or Reddit. You can usually find reviews from current and ex-employees about the work culture on these sites.
  2. Find out the exact interview process from the recruiter and prepare for them accordingly. Most recruiters will be more than happy to walk you through their entire process and can guide you on what to expect.
  3. If possible find out about the panel of interviewers you are going to meet for an in-person interview. If you do get your hands on this information, hop on to LinkedIn and read about them. Read where they went to college or what city they are from or what their interests are. This can be a great ice breaker when you meet them and if you happen to share some commonalities, you can strike a chord easily with the interviewer. It also helps you assess your interviewer better and plan accordingly.
  4. On the day before the interview get a good night’s sleep. Don’t try to cram too much into the last minute. So take it easy. Rest well.
  5. On the day of the interview, make sure you arrive 15-20 minutes ahead of schedule and carry a copy of your resume. Dress appropriately for the role you are applying for and greet everyone you meet with a smile. I can’t stress enough on how much each positive interaction can help you stay upbeat and navigate this stressful day easily. Just smile and keep it light. The heavy lifting is anyway going to come in during the interview.
  6. During the interview, make sure you drive the conversation. It’s a little-known secret that you can actually drive the interview in a way which naturally leads you to areas you are very good at. You need to skillfully answer the question in a way that deliberately leads the interviewer to ask you follow up questions on topics you are good at.
  7. Make sure your answers are precise and to the point. Always check if you covered everything the interviewer was looking for and follow up accordingly. This ensures the interviewer doesn’t assume you don’t know something. It doesn’t hurt to clarify.
  8. If you find yourself getting stuck or cornered, always step back and take a moment to think out loud. Interviewers are humans too and anyone can freeze. We’ve all been there where our train of thought was lost or we just went blank. It’s OK to take a moment and regroup your thoughts and attack the problem. This helps you to avoid going down a rabbit hole and lose time.
  9. At the end of the interview, make sure you ask relevant questions about the specific position. E.g. Try to find out how a typical day for someone in this role looks like, find out the most challenging problem the team has been working on, etc. Ask good and relevant questions. Never pass on this opportunity without asking questions. This is a great time to show your interest in the position.
Interview the company as much as they interview you

Outcome

You should have completed your actual interview process by now and hopefully did a wonderful job at it. In any case, you should be expecting to hear back from the recruiter within a day or two. After the interview, always drop an email thanking the recruiter for the opportunity to interview with the company. If you liked the team, go ahead and share anything, in particular, you enjoyed during the process. Sit back and now relax.

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8. Evaluating Your Offers

Assuming things went very well with your interview, you should hear from your recruiter with an offer. Congratulations! You’ve just aced your interview and landed an offer.

Before you get too excited, I would like you to pause for a moment and evaluate the offer. Just because you received an offer doesn’t mean you should accept it. It’s a very well known secret among recruiters to low-ball the offer. i.e. they deliberately offer a lower salary or signing bonus or stock options or other benefits and wait for you to ask more. You’d be surprised how many candidates don’t negotiate their offers and go with the first offer they receive. Don’t do this mistake! Always negotiate.

How to evaluate an offer?

Who wins a negotiation is determined by 2 key things. Make sure you have both of them.

1. He who has the maximum information wins

Do your research about every aspect of the offer I just listed about. Start from the designation offered, salary, stock options, bonuses, paid time off, etc and compare them with online data you can find on sites like Paysa. The more information you have, the better you can negotiate.

2. He who has more patience wins

Recruiters smell desperation from miles. It can be the way you talk to them over the phone to how quickly you respond back to an offer and what you say. All of that can signal your desperation. Very rarely will recruiters go out of their way to give you the best possible offer without negotiation. It simply never happens. They work for their employer and not you. So it’s in their interest to save money for their employer. So don’t come across as desperate. I know this can be particularly hard when you have faced a lot of rejections and finally make it to this stage or you landed here on your first attempt and want to just accept the offer. I would still urge you to evaluate the offer in an unbiased way. Remember the real power in a negotiation is your willingness to walk away from a bad deal.

Evaluate your experience interacting with the team and the role that’s being offered to you. Is it inline with your goals? Is the job same as the one advertised or did you find out something during the job interview that indicated otherwise? How did you find the team members? Were they nice enough or didn’t care enough? Remember you spend nearly 8-9 hours in the office and you need to be able to get along with people on your team. So this is a very important decision to make. If you don’t like any of this and the offer is still great, I would urge you to reconsider your decision to accept the offer. Don’t let moentary aspects of the offer influence your final decision. You won’t stay there long enough. Trust me on this.

How close is this job to your dream job? At this point you might have either interviewed companies from the same tier or have interviewed several companies across tiers, you shortlisted. In either case, pay close attention to how similar is this job offer for your dream job. The closer the better. Remember to keep track of your progress in the spreadsheet I talk about in step #6.

One other thing to consider is that you might schedule your interviews in a way that ensures you hear back on the result from each one of them around the same time, this can help you negotiate offers better. Don’t ignore this strategy. Keep your options open.

Evaluate if an offer is Good or Bad

Outcome

At the end of this step, you should have made a clear choice whether or not to accept the offer or move on. If you decide to accept the offer, congratulations, you’ve just landed your dream job. If not, I would urge you to repeat step #6 and step #7 till you land offers which meet your criteria.

I hope the tips I have shared in the post will help you land your dream job. All the very best!

4 thoughts on “A Step By Step Guide To Landing Your Dream Job”

  1. I like how you point out that you need to see if the company is a good fit for you during the interview process. In fact, if you are a top 20% candidate, I would argue that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. It is really easy to get to the interview process desperate to take any job offer… but that is dangerous. I know that is hard to do when you need cash, but it is easy to compromise if you don’t have the right mindset. I like how you took a detailed look at this process. Thanks for sharing.

    • Absolutely Chris. I feel a lot of times, even I have fallen to the trap of just applying for any job that just matched some key words. But this process I have listed is something that has evolved after I have had some bad choices in the past.

      I am glad it was helpful.

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