When you're young, a dream job may mean becoming an astronaut, a famous musician, or playing for your favorite sports team.
Adulthood generally means having more realistic dreams because if you have not become an Olympic gymnast and you're 30 years old, well, the odds are bad. However, trading fantasy jobs for more realistic dream jobs can still result in you getting to do something amazing and inspiring that makes your life closer to how you want it to be.
Living out your grownup dreams may not mean fame and fortune, but it can mean happiness and fulfillment. It's possible to land your dream job, but doing so requires putting in the work to make it happen.
Know your dream
Before you can land your dream job, you have to narrow down what your dreams are. Is there a specific position you want to be hired for? Or is your dream something broader, such as, "I want a job that lets me travel," or, "I'd like work that keeps me out of the office."
The broader the category, the easier it will be to get where you want to go. In addition, when honing in on your dream, it's important to balance financial needs and work needs. You may want a job that has you working outside, but being a crossing guard may not pay enough while parking attendant might.
Gain the right skills
Some dream professions require specific certifications. If you want to be a nurse, for example, you must obtain the proper schooling. In other cases, the needed skills may be less specific or not legally required, but you should identify what they are and make sure you have the proper training.
Meet the right people
In most fields, particularly the ones that don't require a specific degree or certification, knowing the right person can help you get hired. If you're not lucky enough to already have a contact in the field, you need to go out and make one.
This can involve reaching out to people doing what you hope to do and asking to have a cup of coffee, or it can mean setting up informational interviews with the people doing the hiring. In addition, you should also consider attending industry events or conferences where opportunities to make a connection will come up.
Do the work
Once you have the needed skills and connections, it's time to get work actually finding a job. Doing that requires setting aside time each day for your search and applying for jobs as they become listed. Being quick matters, but you will also want to make sure your materials are in order.
Have a resume (or multiple versions) that has been checked by a copy editor and someone with experience in the field you hope to work in. Most importantly, make sure you customize your cover letter for each job. Because you are trying to break into a new field, explain why your past experience makes sense and how while you may not have a traditional background, you are qualified.
Going from where you are to where you want to be may not be a linear journey -- you may have to make a few stops along the way. Be open to taking a step backward or accepting a job that leads to the one you want. Listen to all offers and be willing to negotiate, make compromises, and bet on yourself.
If you get a foot in the door you can eventually pry it open. If pride or ego stops you from taking the first step, then you may never achieve your dream job.