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How to Find Your Dream Career: 11 Key Steps

Wondering how to find your dream career? You're not alone.

Surveys of U.S. households have found that fewer than half of Americans are even satisfied with their jobs, let alone are living out their dream career. In fact, up to 75 percent of workers are still searching for a job they love, according to the job search Web site Career Builder.

Perhaps you already know what your dream career is and are in the process of choosing whether or not to take the leap (if this applies to you, you may want to read 12 Signs it is REALLY Time to Leave Your Job). However, and more likely, a large part of the problem may be that you have yet to discover what your dream career should be.

Go ahead, close your eyes and picture it. What does your dream job look like?

Please don't use this as an excuse to never reach the feeling of freedom and joy that can accompany finding your true dream career. Instead, check out these 11 tips to get started down the road to career happiness today.

Determining the Truly Right Career for YOU

1. Identify your skills, talents and hobbies.
Whether it is something you've learned to do, or something you're uniquely talented at doing, your skills and talents should be a part of your dream job. Also, don't overlook your hobbies, or things you love to do, as an important part of this list.

2. What are your values?
You must answer this question to accurately find your dream job. Do you value helping others over all else? Or do you value having time to spend with your family? How about money? Where does that fit in to your value system? Chances are that your values will encompass a number of different things. If you're having trouble identifying which values are most important to you, you should rank them using a 5-point scale (0 = not important at all, 5 = most important).

3. Determine how much training you're willing to put in.
Perhaps you've always dreamed of defending a client in a high-profile court trial, but know that law school is not for you. Or, you'd like to work with cars, but don't have the technical training to do it. As you start to nail down the types of jobs you may like, you'll need to know how much upfront and ongoing education/training they require -- along with how much you're willing to put in.

4. How much money do you want to make?
This should be partly answered for you already under "what are your values." If part of your dream job is earning six-figures or more, make note of it. Likewise, if you're content to just get by, as long as you're doing what you love, keep this in mind too.

5. Location, location, location.
Realistically speaking, are you willing to leave your current location to take on your dream career? If you've always wanted to be a farmer, are you willing to sacrifice your love of chic urban eateries? Meanwhile, how far are you willing to commute (or do you want a job you can ride your bike too)? Travel is also something to think about: Does the thought of traveling for your career excite you, or would you rather stay close to home?

6. Workaholic or Family-Oriented?
Not that the two can't go hand-in-hand with a little bit of tenacity, however most people find that they lean toward one or the other. Is work the most important thing to you, and you're willing to put in 70-hour weeks? Or do want a flexible schedule that allows you more time to spend with the kids?

7. Determine Your Career Personality.
This free career test will help you determine what type of career you are best suited for based on your dominant character traits, your interests, and the way you approach work. Keep your career personality in mind as you compose your list of dream careers.

8. Compile Your Information.
You've thought about it in your head and have a vague idea of your values, skills, desires, etc. Now, write it all down. Peruse your list of what you're looking for, and what you're not … let it sink in.

What's Your Career Personality?

Your dominant character traits, interests and way you approach work all make up your own unique career personality.

Just answer these 36 questions about yourself, and the results will provide you an overview of your key strengths and some careers that may be best suited to you.

Free Career Test: Find Out Your Career Personality Now!

9. Identify Your Dream Career.
Based on your dream, identify careers that you believe would make you truly happy. Search online, ask your family, friends and neighbors, and choose your dream job.

10. Get Your Dream Career.
You've already made it through the hardest part for many: identifying your dream job. Now you just have to find it. How? Keep your eyes and ears open for anything related to your dream job. Attend industry trade shows, read their magazines, network with anyone you can within the field, and hand your resume out unashamedly at job fairs. If your dream is to start your own business, this applies to you too. Make friends with other business owners and soak in all the advice they have to offer.

11. Stick With It!
Finally finding a career you love will be well worth the hours, days and months spent searching for it. If you find that certain hurdles are keeping you from moving out of your old job and into the new (i.e., debts to pay off, school to complete, family matters), devise a strategy to overcome each of them, one at a time. Remember, you are working toward a dream, and nothing should stop you from seeing that that dream comes true.

Recommended Reading

Seven Things NOT to Do When Leaving Your Job (No Matter How Tempted You Are)

12 Signs it is REALLY Time to Leave Your Job

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