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This article was published on March 2, 2016

6 tips for success in the quest for your dream job

6 tips for success in the quest for your dream job
Lauren Gilmore
Story by

Lauren Gilmore

Content queen

Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in c Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling. Find me on Twitter or email me.

Quora is full of questions such as “How do I become as successful as [insert anyone famous]?”

Imagine your ultimate job and the life you’d be living if you had it. Does this require a complete pivot in life or would having that corner office suffice?

Regardless, changing careers can be scary; but imagine that doing so is as simple as a few steps you can start implementing today.

Don’t let social media haunt your (professional) dreams

Social media is great – who doesn’t love photos of puppies and kittens? But it’s also one of the first places a potential employer goes to learn more about you. 55 percent of hiring managers have reconsidered a candidate based on what was posted on a prospect’s account. And 92 percent use social media for hiring.

Social media is a representation of yourself and you should be analyzing your presence regularly. Make sure you’re comfortable with all the information you share on social sites in case a potential employer is looking at them.

The Internet is an increasingly powerful tool for making a first impression… [M]any of us can take a more proactive and mindful approach to online content, and use it to our advantage. – Predrag Lesic, CEO of Domain.ME

Is that photo from last year’s Halloween party really doing you any good? It could be harming your chances of professional success.

unprofessional, wild, crazy
Knowledge is power

This doesn’t mean you have to know everything right this second.

Bill Gates has been reading since he was a small child and still uses books as the main way he learns new things and tests his understanding. And it can be a chief way for you to gain knowledge in either an industry you’re trying to break into or keep up with the ever changing tides.

In the case of Bill Gates, he devours books like a fat kid devours ice cream, reading an average of 50 books each year.

Even Mark Zuckerberg is well known for his book club.

I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. – Mark Zuckerberg

Scrapped for time? There are various online resources where you can consume information quickly.

So you’re not a reader? There are plenty of other outlets to explore and learn such as online courses, apps, coding academies, Ted talks, the list goes on. Whatever you do, envelop yourself in your passion and do it better than everyone else.


But never forget these wise words from Richard Branson:

If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.

Thanks to technology, you really can.

Find yourself a mentor

Remember those piano lessons of yesteryear? Your parents didn’t merely sit you down with a book and tell you to figure it out yourself. So why would you think doing that in a professional capacity is okay?

In this super-competitive market, finding a mentor can give you a competitive edge. You won’t just learn from their success, you’ll also learn what NOT to do when transitioning into a new industry.

Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer of Lever highly recommends using your network to find the right mentor.

You’ll also learn what’s realistic about transition tracks and understand how to get your qualifications to make the industry switch happen.


Beyond just finding a great mentor, you also have to be accountable for being a good mentee. Especially if you’re a startup founder.

Mentorship is something any founder needs to take as seriously as building a product or hiring the right team. When you ask for advice from the right people in the right structured way, it can solve a lot of your problems in days instead of weeks. Startups with great mentors become great startups. – Robert Gaal, Management Director, TQ

Why make silly mistakes when you could easily learn from someone who’s done it before you? And be sure to be honest about everything – issues, numbers, failures – otherwise having someone guide you based on half-truths is a waste of time.

Work your ass off

If Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Marissa Mayer have one thing in common, it’s that they worked their tushies off.

Ask yourself what truly matters to you? In the short amount of time you have on this Earth, what can you actually do to bring meaningfulness to your life? Now spend every waking moment doing just that. Obsess over it. Eat, sleep and breathe it.

sleep, working, overworked

Elon is a 44 year old multi-billionaire and still works as though Tesla was a startup. That’s not even counting his work on Space X. We’re talking seven days a week and still eager to change the world.

Optimism, pessimism, fuck that – we’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bend on making it work. – Elon Musk

Figure out what you really want and don’t stop till you have it.

Sure, you may fail, you may pivot, you may fall on your face. You may even have to be strategic about showering. But that silver plate you’re waiting for… no one is going to hand it to you.

Lack of experience isn’t a deal breaker

This goes hand in hand with working your ass off as devoting your free time to learning a new industry requires such dedication. And it will convince companies that you are serious.

Don’t know where to start? Volunteer experience is a great starting point and a powerful option to show your commitment and get your foot in the door.

Steve Jobs knew the value of volunteering.

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.

watches, watch, time
But beyond the feel good value of volunteering, it’s a great way to develop skills. Especially if you’re looking to beef up a portfolio or want to make a complete career switch.

Volunteering is a fabulous strategy especially for someone who does not have experience in the field they want to go into. You gain experience in a non-threatening way. – Andrea Kay, career coach and author

I can tell you from personal experience that nonprofits will welcome the free help. Generally understaffed and without the budget to hire professionals, this is a great opportunity to not just learn a new skill, but to really shine.

It’s also a fantastic way to expand on your personal and professional network.

Develop your personal brand via a personal website

We all know the famous Jeff Bezos quote:

Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.

This couldn’t be more true for online.

When it comes to your personal brand, 27 percent of Americans agree that managing their online reputation could help them achieve personal and professional goals.

one way, one direction, focus

While resumes and CVs are great places to tell hiring managers all about your abilities, personal sites let you actually show your skills. Why just tell someone what you have to offer when you can show it instead?

Additionally, a personal site shows hiring managers exactly what you want them to see. It can be useful to show a little more of your personality and what you’d be like to work with.

Everything from the bio paragraph you write to the design options you choose for your website says something about you, and gives recruiters more chances to decide if they want to bring you in for an interview. – Charles Pooley, Founder and CEO of Workfolio

Use it to show who you are, not just what you’ve done.

Want a new career in design? Paralegal by day, programmer by night? Make certain to focus your site solely on the jobs you want. Sure you’re the best damn legal researcher on your floor, but if you want to be taken seriously for your code ninja skills, then highlight only this.

As job descriptions become more fluid and the lines between gig and employee are more blurred, there are more opportunities for less traditional candidates. Take this opportunity to find what you want and go after it.

Read next: The ultimate guide to launching your UX career