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Ready to Find Your Dream Job? Start with Knowing What You Want

Ready to Find Your Dream Job? Start with Knowing What You Want

Searching for a new job, let alone a ‘dream job,’ may feel daunting, especially if you have been out of the market for a long time or weren’t expecting to need a new position. In our recently published blog series, “Recently Laid Off? A Jobseeker’s Guide to Bounce Back Better than Ever,” we dive into the steps you can take specifically after experiencing a layoff so you can set yourself up for a successful job search. 

Whatever your situation may be, you are likely creating a mental list of things to do before navigating interviews. This might include updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, and starting to look at what opportunities are out there. The first and most important step in your job search, however, is to look within and take stock of what is most important to you in your next opportunity.

Salary is important, but it’s not everything

Loving or hating your job pivots first upon how you feel about your compensation. Nearly 3 in 4 workers who hate their job say they stay there in the meantime predominantly because they need financial stability while they search for something new — and 1 in 2 workers report they left their most recent job because the salary didn’t cut it.

Besides being underpaid, the most commonly cited grievances by people who hate their jobs include a lack of growth opportunities, a lackluster company culture, and not getting along with their manager or colleagues.

According to our 2023 State of Tech Salaries report, candidates prioritize a flexible work schedule, PTO, and practical benefits such as health insurance and 401K retirement matching.

Salary and benefits are incredibly important — but those factors are really the tip of the iceberg. A flashy salary is great, but probably won’t keep you happy day-to-day if you don’t click with the management philosophy or lack opportunities to grow on the job.

Evaluate your wants and needs in a dream job

Depending on what professional and life stage you are or will soon be in, your non-negotiables and ‘nice to haves’ may vary. Starting a job search requires reflection on your top priorities and deal breakers in your next opportunity. You should decide on these before speaking with a recruiter. What motivates you? What makes you tick? 

Our study shows people who hate or feel iffy about their jobs tend to focus more on extrinsic factors — like better pay, work-life balance, and feeling appreciated for their work. On the flip side, once salary expectations are met, many people are intrinsically motivated by things like building mission-driven products and services they feel proud to have on their resumes, or opportunities to learn.

The areas jobseekers should evaluate include (but are not limited to):

  • Finances, such as preferred base salary, bonuses, equity or stock options, and total compensation
  • Benefits and perks
  • Work-life balance
  • Tech stack
  • Company size, stage, and industry
  • Company culture
  • Location, which would include considering if you’re comfortable with and able to commute into an office in a post-COVID world

As you consider these areas for yourself, know that what you don’t want is equally important to what you do want. 

Additionally, while it is important to showcase your skills and strengths, being able to identify what you are interested in learning more about will help you immensely. This is especially true regarding your technical experience. You’ll be able to communicate those desires effectively in your online presence, cover letters, and interviews.

Pro Tip: Moving forward, if you’d like to take a class on a new skill or would feel more fulfilled by spending 20% of your time on internal entrepreneurism, coach your manager on what’s important to you at this point in your career. Get in the habit of discussing your goals day to day — not just at yearly performance check-ins.

Empower yourself with data

After you outline a list of your preferences, requirements, and deal breakers, you should empower and equip yourself with data and research on the role(s) you are interested in. Be sure to look into:

  • Job requirements
  • Compensation for the title, level, and market the role is located in
  • Companies actively hiring, especially as they relate to your list of preferences

Information on company size, stage, industry, location, and culture is often easily accessible online, especially on the company’s website. Thoroughly read up on this before even applying for open roles. 

On the other hand, information on compensation, benefits, and perks might be a little harder to find unless you’re actively interviewing with that respective company. In these instances, it is especially important to know what you want so you can ask the right questions in your interviews. There, you’ll uncover the information to make the best decision. 

In terms of compensation, while company-specific information may not be readily available, equip yourself with market research by using these tools:

According to our 2023 State of Wage Inequality Report, what candidates actually expect to receive perpetuates the wage gap. This deficit is known as the expectation gap. This is consistent not only across gender but also race, age, and markets. Because their expectations are lower than their market value, tech workers are asking for less and getting paid less. 

Know your worth 

When you know your value and the data, you can confidently ask for the compensation you deserve in a dream job. By analyzing data from multiple resources, you can cross-reference the numbers. This gives you a good idea of an appropriate salary range based on your experience and skills.

Don’t dilly dally — speed matters

The longer you spend looking for a job, the less likely you are to believe dream jobs are possible. In fact, optimism drops 10% every 3 months you spend on the hunt. With tools like Hired, you can cut the length of your job search in half or more.

Ready to find your dream job? Create your free Hired profile to employ your potential. 

Originally published October 2022. Updated November 2023.