Knowing how to find a job is hard enough, let alone how to find a job you love. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? Who do you want to work with? What benefits are you looking for? What skills can you apply? Where do you even start looking for jobs?
If you’re struggling with the questions and feel overwhelmed by the job search, don’t worry — here are some strategies for how to find a job you love.
Find Out What You Like (and Don’t Like)
Before scouring job postings, take stock of what you want from a job first. This includes your interests, top skills, and logistical items, like salary and work location.
Know What You’re Interested In
What have you always wanted to be when you grew up? It’s okay if you don’t have a dream job — and completely normal not to dream about coding all day or marketing big tech’s newest product.
“You may think, ‘I just want to get a job that I make money and not hate,’ and you can do that,” says Super Julie Braun (SJ), professional career consultant and the founder & CEO of Super Purposes. “Or you can ask yourself a few pointed questions to help you go where you belong and experience meaningful work.”
Questions to Ask Yourself:
- What subjects am I interested in? This can include basic school subjects like math or English and concepts like design, politics, or fashion.
- What am I passionate about? You may be interested in helping people get access to education. You may want to make it easier for your grandparents to use technology. Maybe you’re passionate about social media trends or TV. Big or small, your passions can help you find work that you think is meaningful and exciting.
- Who do I want to work for? This can be a specific company name or a general idea of the kind of company or team you’d like to work for. For example, you may want to work for a big-name tech company, or perhaps you’d prefer a small start-up.
- What are my values? While it may feel a little existential, think about why you want to find a job you love. Do you plan to focus on salary? Do you want to find purpose in work? This can help you prioritize when you weigh what each career has to offer.
- Who do I want to work with? This helps you think about the team dynamic you’re looking for. “Are you introverted or extroverted, shy or gregarious? A leader or follower; do you like to work alone or in a team? Are you more in your head or a person of action?” SJ says.
Remember to think about what you’re not interested in, too. For all of the questions above, consider the opposite. For example, what disinterests you? What work would go against your values? Who do you not want to work for? This can help rule out potential career options.
Know Your Skills
Once you’ve figured out what you’re interested in, it’s time to discover what you can bring to the table. Even if you don’t have work experience, you still have valuable skills to offer. Consider what you’ve learned through classes, internships, externships, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular activities.
>>MORE: How to Write a Resume With No Work Experience
List your hard skills, like programming, research, a foreign language, graphic design, or budgeting.
Then, think of your soft skills and write down short bullet points of how you’ve used them. For example, you may have used collaboration skills to lead a group research project with students from various academic backgrounds. Or, perhaps you used public speaking skills to give a presentation that helped drive donations to a school charity. These descriptions will also come in handy when it’s time to write your resume.
And what if you don’t have the skills you want or need for a field? “Skills are the easiest things to acquire, so remember, if there is an area of interest for you and you lack a few skills, take the class or get the internship that will get you what you need,” SJ says.
(Check out a Forage virtual experience program and learn practical work skills while exploring different career paths).
Know Your Logistics
There’s much more to a job than your everyday responsibilities. Everything from your coworkers to work location to work-life balance can heavily impact your experience at work — and affect whether you really love your job or not.
“Think about the environment you want to work in (remember it’s every day) and when you’re most productive,” Buck Martinez, co-founder and president of the board at Student ACES, says.
Martinez encourages asking yourself questions like:
- Do you mind sitting at a desk all day and typing?
- How do you feel about being on the phone?
- Are you more fulfilled when you’re having in-person conversations, or will chats satisfy your need for human interaction?
- What kind of personalities do you mesh with?
These questions can help you imagine how you want to work and who you want to work with.
Yet other work logistics — like benefits and salary — are also important. Additional work logistic questions include:
- Do I want to work remotely, hybrid, or in person?
- Am I willing to relocate?
- What salary range do I want?
- What benefits am I looking for?
- What work schedule do I want?
- What does work-life balance look like for me?
Just because you’re starting your career doesn’t mean you can’t be choosy. Think of your non-negotiables regarding work logistics and other elements that you might be more flexible on. For instance, maybe you know you won’t accept a job that offers under $45,000, but you’re flexible whether a position is remote or hybrid.
Get Strategic With Your Search
Now that you know your skills and what you’re looking for, it’s time to figure out how to find a job you love.
Don’t ‘Spray And Pray’
“Spray and pray” describes applying to multiple jobs without much targeting or intention. Instead, your hopes are that by applying to just about anything, you’ll eventually get an offer for something — even if it’s not something you really want.
Instead, use your list of interests, skills, and logistics to apply for jobs you genuinely want and think you’re qualified for (reminder: you don’t need to have every qualification to apply to or land the role!).
Then, carefully tailor your resume and cover letter for each application.
Stand out from the crowd
Don’t Rely on Job Postings Alone
According to CNBC, as many as 70% of all jobs aren’t posted on top job boards. This means there are open jobs out there you might not even know are available. However, you can connect with people in the industry to learn more about and discover what they are.
Networking is daunting and nerve-racking, but it can help you learn about opportunities; better understand a field, specific position, or company; and even land you a role (80% of people land roles through a networking connection, according to CNBC).
“Reach out to people to learn more about their occupation and their career journey,” Martinez says. “It can be a mentor, a family member, a friend, or even someone you may have never met before who is in a role that is of interest to you. We can learn so much from talking to other people, much more than we can if just reading about the job on a piece of paper or a website. People are willing to help, it’s just up to us to make the first ask.”
The goal is to connect with someone who can give you an inside view of their work, which will hopefully help you better understand what roles to apply to.
>>MORE: Learn how to virtually network.
Don’t Say Yes Unless It’s What You Really Want
Congratulations, you’ve got an offer! But, before you accept, consider if this job is what you truly want.
“If you’re fresh out of college, entering a tough job market, and feeling anxious, it can be tempting to sell yourself short,” Adina David, recruiter and career coach at JobzHut, says. “Sure, that first job may not be glamorous or even all that meaningful, but at least it will get your foot in the door, right? Not necessarily. In fact, if you’re looking for a job that’s fulfilling in the long term, it’s better to wait and hold out for something more interesting.”
Revisit your interests and logistical non-negotiables to see if the offer aligns. If it checks most of the boxes, go for it!
Don’t Give Up
Finding a job you love makes you a pickier job seeker, and it doesn’t always work out in your favor. Rejection can be difficult to deal with. It’s crucial to process your emotions, then use the rejection as fuel to go out and get a better opportunity.
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“The job search can be tough, but if you persevere, you’ll eventually find something that’s a good fit for you,” David encourages.
And hopefully, that good fit will be a job you love.
Jumpstart your job search and learn resume, interview, and workplace advice with Forage’s personal development virtual experience programs.