Seven Steps to Finding a Job You Love
By Deirdre McEachern
Today is a great day to begin the journey toward finding a job
you will love. Since you are attempting to create a brand new
future for yourself, I suggest you give this process some time.
Work your way through the steps below over a few weeks. It's a
good idea to approach this program like taking a class. Set
aside a specific time each week, such as Monday evenings at 7
p.m. Each week, read one step and work on it. Over the course of
the week, be sure to let each step percolate in your mind during
your daily activities. The following Monday, note any new
thoughts you have had and then begin the next step. If you get
stuck or need help, you can contact Deirdre at 207-439-4280 for
Step #1: Identify Why You Are Changing Careers
The first step in any career change is to identify why you are
looking for a change. It is important to know whether you are
trying to move away from something or if you are trying to move
toward something. Ultimately, it is much more empowering to
move toward something as opposed to trying to escape from
It is much more difficult to identify your ideal job if your
personal vision is limited to overcoming the negatives of your
This is your time to dare to dream. Why not dream big? If you
are going to make a career change, keep all of your options open
to give yourself the best chance of making a fresh start. This
is your time to find a job you will love for years to come.
Step # 2: Create a Personal Vision & Specify Your Goals
The next step in finding work you love involves creating a very
clear vision of your future work situation. You need to be able
to definitively answer the following questions:
--What is your ideal work day schedule?
--What is your required salary to live comfortably?
(For more information on salary and work you love,
I highly recommend the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe
Dominguez and Vicki Robin)
--What is your preferred commute time?
--What are your ideal positions and tasks?
--To what managerial level do you want to be reporting?
--Are you an entrepreneur at heart?
--Would you consider self-employment?
--Are there any other logistical aspects you need to consider "
such as travel required or on-site day care provisions?
Try to think through every aspect of a normal day. Don't be
afraid to outline what might feel like unrealistic or
pie-in-the-sky options. The purpose here is to get very clear on
what it is you want. Not what you think you can get.
Creating this vision and specifying your goals is an integral
step toward finding your ideal job. I recommend that my clients
spend plenty of time on these questions and write out their
answers in a notebook or journal.
Step #3: Re-Connect With Your Interests
So many of my clients have lost touch with their interests. It
is not easy for them to identify the things that capture their
attention. To help get your self-knowledge flowing, answer the
following questions over the course of a typical week:
--What is your favorite bookstore section?
--Which sections of the newspaper do you turn to first?
--What magazine subscriptions do you have?
--What were your favorite classes in college?
--What are your hobbies?
--What categories of books do you keep on your bookshelf?
--What great conversations do you remember from parties and
social events? What was the topic? What made it a great
After keeping track of these things for a week you should be
able to identify some trends. Did you notice some of your
interests emerging on a consistent basis? Are you able to
narrow it down to two or three top interests?
Do not worry at this point whether the interests you have
identified have any possibilities as careers. You are just
beginning the self-exploration process. In order to have any
hope of finding work you love, you have to start by identifying
what is truly interesting to you!
Step #4: Re-Connect With Your Values
Interests and values go together like a lock and a key. Once you
have identified some of your favorite interests, the next step
is to explore your values. Your values are your deeply held
convictions that compel you into action. Many people become
unsatisfied in their careers because one or more of their
personal values are not being met. To uncover some of your
strongest inner values try to answer some or all of the
--Who is your favorite famous person? What is it that you admire
--If you never had to work again, what would you
spend your time doing? Why?
--If you could solve one world problem what would it be?
--What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?
--What are your top three movies of all time? What theme do
--What makes you mad?
--What would you want said about you at your funeral?
These questions are likely to take you longer to answer than any
of the others so far. That is because your values are at the
core of what motivates you in life. When you find work that is
in sync with one or more of your values, you will feel a great
desire to do that work. It will feel more like your "calling"
rather than merely a job.
You will gain a sense of importance about the work you are
doing. You will feel that your time is being spent wisely and
that your work makes a difference. When you can combine these
values-based feelings with working in an area of your interest,
you will be well on your way to finding work you love. Try to
sum up your answers from the questions in this step and then
identify your top three values.
Step #5: Know Your Abilities!
Now you know why you are looking to change careers (better pay?
more fulfillment?), what you would like your future work day to
look like (nine to five? three weeks vacation? On-site gym?),
your areas of interest (history? biology? human development?)
and your values (education? tenacity? helping others?). The
next step in the process is to connect these emotional
components with what you are actually hard-wired to do. You can
find this out by taking a natural abilities test.
I highly recommend abilities testing to all of my clients. There
are several sources of abilities testing available. I use The
Highlands Ability Battery. I have heard of other people using
the Johnson-O"Connor test. You can find these tests via
personal coaches, college career centers, state-run career
centers, etc. Be sure to ask for an abilities test and not a
personality or communication-style assessment (such as the
Myers-Briggs or Strong Interest Inventory).
Abilities tests define your natural abilities based on timed
work samples. This allows for an objective way of discovering
(or affirming) the kind of work to which you are best suited.
These tests also tell you about your preference for introversion
or extroversion, your time frame orientation, your preference
for abstract or tangible work, and other work style information.
It is important to know and confirm the type of abilities that
come quickly and easily to you. When you find work that calls
upon these abilities, it will not only be easier for you to
succeed, but you will also gain a greater sense of satisfaction
from your work.
Step #6: Inventory Your Skills
The sixth step in the process of discovering work you will love
is to take stock of your skills. Your skills augment your
natural abilities. They are things you have picked up along the
way in your career journey (public speaking, computer
programming, project management, etc.). These are the areas that
you have experience in, courses you have taken, on-the-job
training you may have received or any other areas where you feel
you have gained competence.
You may find it helpful to look at past resumes, project notes
and performance reviews to create a thorough list of skills you
have acquired and would like to continue to use in the future.
From this comprehensive list, narrow it down to three to five
skill areas that you feel are your strongest.
Step #7: Create A Road Map to Actual Positions
Finally, you have made it to the last step! By now you should
know a lot more about yourself than you did at the beginning of
this process. Now is the time to put all of the pieces together
and start to define positions. So often when clients first come
to me, their natural inclination is to start the career change
process by immediately trying to identify new job titles.
They come to me saying things like, "maybe I should be a nurse"
or, "I heard that photography is a good career." I always tell
them the same thing: it is best not to look at job titles until
you have explored your inner desires, passions, abilities,
interests and values. It is best to keep all your options open
during the first six steps. You have a better chance of finding
work you will truly love when you fully unleash the creativity
of this process. You may be surprised about what you uncover!
To complete Step #7, use the information you have collected from
Steps 1 through 6 and put them on a note card in this format:
--Top three personal interests
--Top three core values
--Top three natural ability areas
--Top three to five acquired skills
Once you have created this card, you can start to show it to
friends, relatives and anyone else you might consult. Ask them
what kind of job this list describes to them. Do they know
anyone who has a job like this? If so, perhaps they can help you
line up informational interviews to confirm that this type of
work would indeed be of interest to you.
I had a client who took this card to a trade show and discovered
two new job titles that neither of us had ever heard of before.
After two informational interviews with people in those
positions, it was clear that she had found a whole new career
opportunity for herself that neither of us would have ever known
A few final notes about undertaking a career change:
1. Be thorough, be persistent and be true to yourself and you
will find the job of your dreams. It's important to be patient
with yourself during the career change exploration process. It
is like filling a large funnel at the top. You are putting in
new information day-by-day - your reasons for changing, your
logistical requirements, your interests, your values, your
abilities, your skills, etc. What will happen eventually is that
one or two job titles will fall through the narrow opening at
the bottom of the funnel.
The payoff you will receive for investing in getting to know
yourself through this seven-step process is that the jobs you
uncover will be the most exciting opportunities of your life.
You will have finally found work you can truly love.
2. Be sure your financial situation is stable while you go
through the career change process. It is much easier to explore
freely when you don't have to worry about how your bills are
going to be paid. Remember, this seven-step process is about
finding your passion and figuring out how you can make your
unique contribution to the world. It will need your attention
for a little while.
3. If you are currently unemployed and looking for immediate
work, watch out for this trap: just being good at something
doesn't mean you should be doing it! This is a valid and
possibly the quickest road to a renewed paycheck, but don't
confuse this with engaging in a real career change process to
find work you love.
4. It is normal to be frightened and to worry about being
unrealistic about career choices. After all, we all need to
make a living. Regardless of whether you are currently working,
these thoughts will naturally arise if you are considering
making a major change from the status quo. Let these feelings
rise and fall. It's okay. Talk it out with your friends, your
career coach or write about them in your journal. Making a
career change can be stressful but don't let that stop you from
finding work you love!
About the Author
Deirdre McEachern's passion is
helping her clients achieve their dreams.
She believes strongly that you can
find a career you enjoy, express
your natural talents and have a life!
Contact Deirdre at firstname.lastname@example.org
for a free career-coaching consultation or
sign up for her free e-newsletter