When you took your job, it was a good career move . . . but it wasn’t exactly your dream job. Maybe you weren’t ready yet for that position, or maybe you needed to take a job to hold you over until you were able to land the one you really want. But before you resume your search, ask yourself: Am I in a "fixer-upper" position? Your current job could become your dream job with a little bit of work.
People often underestimate the degree of control they actually have around their job, says Charlice Hurst, assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. "Research has demonstrated that thinking of the job differently, reshaping one's tasks, or changing the way you interact with others are all ways in which people can successfully derive more meaning from their work," she says.
A dream job is one that fulfills you and puts your strengths to good use. If you’re in a field you enjoy but don’t yet hold the job you want, here are seven things you can do to turn your current job into the one of your dreams:
Transform your responsibilities by offering creative and constructive suggestions to higher-ups, suggests Hurst. "If your ideas are adopted, you may be able to get involved in implementing them," she says.
Think beyond or through your current role and realm of responsibilities to anticipate what the team or the company needs next, adds David Nour, CEO of the strategy consulting firm The Nour Group and author of Relationship Economics.
"Do you have those requisite skills, knowledge, or behavior?" he asks. "If not, how can you quickly gain and start to apply them?"
Let your manager see you in the role you want, not just the one you have, says Nour.
"Volunteer for key projects, important initiatives, and look for ways to create greater impact than your job description," he says.
Become the go-to person in your company by developing strong relationships with decision makers, suggests Nour. Be sure to let your preferences for new responsibilities be known.
"Others can always find people who may know the technical aspects of how to do your job, but you want them to think of, pick, or recommend you for key roles because of the way you build and nurture relationships inside your team and across the organization," he says.
Strive to constantly grow and discover nuances in your field. Attend events and conferences, join associations, and put yourself in opportunities to meet interesting people, suggests Nour. Then bring those insights, ideas, and relationships to your office.
"Develop a personal and professional growth road map," he says.
List all the things you enjoy doing in your current job and start doing more of them, says Michele Mavi, director of internal recruiting and training for the human resources firm Atrium Staffing.
"Create smart projects that require you to use these skills frequently, and you will find yourself more satisfied and fulfilled," she says.
Jobs feel exciting because of their potential—what we can learn, accomplish, and earn, says Mavi.
"Then we build traction and get a certain amount of recognition until finally we peak," she says. "That peak moment feels great: You’re at the top of your game and you’re enjoying it."
Look for that next peak, suggests Mavi. "That next moment of exhilaration: a promotion, a raise, a team to manage," she says. "Whatever that next peak may be."
No employer wants to lose an employee who knows her worth and can contribute towards the growth of the organization, says Anisha Vinjamuri, CEO of the career-consulting firm Innovations IQ.
"If you are a great cultural fit and a great employee in every other way, in most cases your management will be more than happy to accommodate your career aspirations, understand your strengths, and enable you to thrive in an environment that will contribute towards your professional goals as well as the company’s goals," she says.