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Winning your dream job

Posted on from Chiumento

The recession has turned many UK workers into corporate prisoners, stuck in jobs they would otherwise leave. But over time, how should you take steps to move closer to your dream job?

Appetite for change

People with real talent have accepted roles they are too big for. Others daren’t move on because they know they wouldn’t get the same salary in a new role. Some are trapped by the need for flexible hours or a short commute. Many plan an early escape when the economy picks up. In the short term, these reluctant prisoners may be right to stay where they are.

In the current market many are anxious just to stay in work; but others are chomping at the bit to move on. There is an appetite for change, but a shortage of jobs to change to. And many of us forget to look in our own back yard before casting our net more widely.

What motivates you?

Our study, Riding the Career Carousel, published earlier this year, highlights the importance of recognising that our motivations are different. Not everyone wants more money, not everyone wants ever greater challenges, not everyone cares about working for a big name. Each of us has distinctive top motivators, which may be any or none of these. 

The key is identifying and playing to your motivational sources as they represent your real strength and if satisfied will ensure that your employer gets what they need from you. That means a win-win.
Of course finding your dream job is difficult enough if you know what you are aiming for. It's a lot tougher when you don’t and when work is so time consuming there is no time to consider the future. If you think you may be a corporate prisoner and are unsure of the best escape route, consider these four steps towards a fulfilling career. Take your time over each one but set yourself some deadlines to keep up the momentum.

Test yourself with these career questions

1. Consider carefully what motivates you. This might include consideration of:

a. Your interests
b. Your personal values
c. Your practical needs
d. Your strengths and core capabilities
e. Your personality
f. How you like to be managed and treated by colleagues
g. How much you want to earn
h. How much freedom of manoeuvre you want

2. Once you are clear about these, consider career options that fit, making sure you match your work to your motivational sources to ensure career satisfaction. You may find talking to colleagues and people outside the working environment helpful. They will have views that help your thinking.
3. Once you have identified up to three options (no more), find out the reality of a move in these different directions. 

For example:

a. Do you have the right qualifications?
b. Are there such jobs in your existing organisation?
c. If not, where might you look outside?

4. Talk to your boss. Organisations are increasingly looking at ways to benefit from the talent they already have. If you’re working for a company that takes this view, an approach to discuss your career plans may be welcomed. 

Where do you want to be?

In the current employment market, horizontal moves are likely to be more readily available than vertical ones, so consider moving into an equivalent or lower level role to give yourself time to learn. The mindset of the vertical ladder meaning promotion must change as organisations de-layer and bring in technology that reduces the number of job tiers. 

A realistic view brings into focus the importance of broadening and strengthening skills. Ultimately if you do this well a promotion upwards may result, but this needs to be earned. Think of your career as a ride on a carousel with moves sideways, down and occasionally up. A lower salary may be worth it if, ultimately, it gets you where you want to be.

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