By Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck
National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling CoachesSM
During this way too long pandemic, thinking about your "dream job" may seem like a waste of time. "Forget about a dream job," you might think, "I just need a paycheck!" Whether you are job hunting or in work that you desperately want to escape, you may be tempted to take any job to get out of your current situation. While it's true that at times it makes sense to take a less-than-ideal job to bring in some money, you don't want to get stuck in a dead-end, poor fitting, soul-deadening job. The key to finding work you love to do is persevering in the pursuit of your dream job despite the obstacles. Despite the pandemic, the payoff can be huge!
Here are some keys to finding work you love in the midst of a pandemic
1. Practice God-confidence
It is a good thing to have self-confidence and it is even better to have God-confidence. God-confidence is recognizing that in every moment no matter what is happening God is good and God is in control. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”
2. Adjust your attitude
Fear is often the result of negative thinking. Faced with difficulties, many people have an immediate “I can’t” response: “I can’t get a new job because no one is hiring.” “I can’t lead a small group because I don’t know how.” “I can’t volunteer at the local homeless shelter because I’m so different from those people.” As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”
When we tell ourselves “I can’t,” our minds automatically shut down from looking at possible ways to overcome the difficulty. We thus imprison ourselves in a fear-inducing perception of the situation. On the other hand, if we ask “How can I?” questions in response to challenges, we orient our thinking toward finding solutions: “How can I find job openings in this job market?” “How can I learn to connect with the people I would serve in my dream job?” If education is needed ask yourself, “How can I complete the needed education during COVID-19?”
Questions like these take our focus off of our fears and direct it toward finding solutions. Creative thinking yields possibilities. Possibilities produce hope. Hope creates energy and action. When you are working actively to solve a problem that stands in the way of your living your calling, you will find that fear releases its hold on you.
3. Focus on the facts instead of generalizations
The news on television and online is depressing with its litany of statistics about the unemployment rate and the economy. It is very easy to become discouraged and generalize that there are no jobs available anywhere. The reality is that there are millions of jobs available no matter what is happening in the job market.
Generalizing about the job market is easy to do. If you have lost your job due to COVID-19 and have been searching for a new job for several weeks it can feel like there are no jobs out there for you. This can lead to many fears and can result in doing a poor job search or giving up. When people say “there are no jobs” they will live into their words by not persistently looking for the right jobs. The good news is that even when the economy is down and we are dealing with a pandemic, you can still find work that fits you well and that is even a dream job. In fact, The New York Times reported that the "American economy gained 1.8 million jobs last month [July], even as the coronavirus surged in many parts of the country." Many of those jobs could fit your skills, interests, and motivations. Many of those jobs could be dream jobs for you!
4. Identify the unique assets God has given you for your dream job
A true dream job will utilize your God-given strengths. Most people take their most special abilities for granted because they come naturally to them. They reason that if something comes easily to them, it must not be that special. Anyone must be able to do it, they think. Not so! Take an inventory of the skills you have that you enjoy using (whether at work or in leisure pursuits). Ask people you trust what strengths and abilities they observe in you. Knowing your strengths not only can help you clarify your vision of your dream job; it can also help you market yourself to potential employers. You will stand out when you can describe your special abilities and how they will be an asset to the employer.
You can also learn more about your God-given design through career assessments such as the CareerFitTest.com. The Career Fit Test will allow you to identify your transferable skills, personal skills, and content skills. It will then provide you with a Holland theme code that you can use to identify and learn about jobs that you would love to do.
5. Develop a clear vision of your dream job.
Take some time to write an ideal description of the work you think you would love to do. What are you doing each day? What is your work environment like? What are you accomplishing? How do you feel when you are doing this work? Why do you feel this way?
Learn all you can about the field: read about it; check out the website of its professional association; see if there are YouTube videos that show people doing this type of work (Example, Google “a day in the life of a communication director.” Then click on videos.) Visit people who do this job (so you can see the environment) and talk to them about their work (a.k.a. "informational interviewing"). Mentally try on the job; see yourself doing it. Create a clear picture of how this work would look and feel to you.
(If you have difficulty answering these questions, you would benefit from professional career assessments and career counseling to clarify your vision and job target. The CareerFitTest.com can also help you explore jobs that fit your God-given design.)
When your dream job becomes "real" to you, your desire to pursue it will deepen. Desire creates drive, which provides the motivation for doing the not-so-fun stuff you'll need to do to attain your dream (while you are working at your less-than-ideal job). In addition, while you are learning about your dream job, you will be making contacts that can help you get into the field, and may even find out about job openings that you will never see advertised on the Internet.
6. Find your dream job in the “hidden” job market
With a large number of people searching for jobs during this pandemic, there is an increase in competition especially for jobs that are advertised on job boards such as Indeed.com. Many companies are even choosing to not advertise certain positions because they are getting overwhelmed with applicants. And thus, the jobs not being advertised are in the “hidden” job market. It is estimated that as many as 80% of jobs, depending on the industry, are in the “hidden” job market.
One of the best ways to find these “hidden” jobs is to network intentionally. Randall S. Hansen defines networking as "developing a broad list of contacts -- people you've met through various social and business functions -- and using them to your advantage when you look for a job. People in your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network."
Studies show that up to 75% of job hunters find jobs by contacting employers directly and contacting personal contacts. These are two of the best strategies for finding jobs in the “hidden” job market. Developing and using a personal contact letter is a very effective way to get help from your friends and acquaintances. You will be able to find some of the best job openings – many of which are not advertised which lessens the competition. Using this method involves sending out your personal contact cover letters and resumes to several people and then following up with a phone call. Since most people have busy lives, following up with a phone call will provide you with the greatest success using this strategy.
Linkedin is a great tool, especially during COVID-19, to contact people and ask for assistance. Make sure your LinkedIn is focused on the work you are pursuing and then start to contact your list of connections. You can do this by contacting them through LinkedIn. You can also do this by email and phone. Keep in mind that phone calls are usually better than email for getting someone’s help.
In both an email and phone call, you can tell your personal contact about the work that you are targeting and your experience and skills in that area. And then ask questions such as:
-Are you aware of specific positions or opportunities I should pursue?
-Do you know anyone who works in my field of interest?
-Are there two or three people you know who would be good for me to contact?
-Do you have any other contacts, ideas or suggestions for me in my job search
7. Apply for jobs in the advertised job market with targeted resumes
As discussed earlier, 1.8 million jobs were added in July 2020. On job boards, at any given time, there are millions of job openings. While ideally you want to stress using strategies to find jobs in the “hidden” job market, it is also wise to strategically apply to online advertised jobs. This can include using job boards such as Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, ZipRecruiter.com, and LinkedIn.com.
Remember, however, that many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These days your resume may automatically land in the employer’s ATS. Your resume then has information scanned, "parsed" or pulled out by the ATS. It then produces a digital candidate profile where the hiring manager or recruiter can search the ATS by keyword and get a list of resumes that best match the qualifications that the employer is seeking.
You can land in the list that matches what the employer is looking for by custom tailoring your resume for each job for which you apply. You can learn more about how you can do this in our article, “14 Keys to Writing a Winning Resume For Christian Jobs.”
8. Realize that perseverance is a necessary part of attaining your dream job
Many of us may daydream about our lives magically (or supernaturally) changing, with our dream job handed to us without any effort on our part. So why doesn't life tend to work this way? Why doesn't God give us our dream job-our vocational calling-on a silver platter? Bottom line, it is because without expending the effort to attain the job, we would not be prepared to do the job.
Landing your dream job will require doing unfamiliar and uncomfortable things when you would rather hide in your comfort zone. Success will demand that you do the tedious things when you'd rather have fun. It will call for maintaining hope in the face of uncertain outcomes. The price of finding work you love is perseverance, faith, and the willingness to take necessary risks. And these, of course, are precisely the qualities of a "winner"...and of a mature follower of Christ. God loves you too much to allow you to take shortcuts. "Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:4). In a world full of people taking the easy path, you will stand out when you are willing to do the hard things. Your faith will provide the fuel to persevere, "for nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
If you focus on your fears instead of your faith it will be impossible to find work you love – a dream job. While fears lead to saying “I can’t find a job I love,” faith leads to taking the actions that God is calling you to take. Some of those actions can involve deepening your understanding of your God-given design. Other actions may involve exploring possible dream jobs. Then, once you are focused, you take action to conduct an effective job search that gets you past the Applicant Tracking Systems to an interview and then being hired! Having faith and taking the right action steps can help you to find your dream job. If you are having any difficulties in this process, we would be glad to help. You can learn more about career counseling at the Christian Career Center.
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com, and ChristianJobFair.com, PastorJobs.Net and CareerFitTest.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.