Getting the job of your dreams takes planning. Even if you're qualified and ready to make the leap, you still need to take some steps to put yourself in the right position at the right time. They won't automatically land you the position, but they could dramatically improve your odds of getting hired.
1. Make sure you're qualified
While it's sometimes possible to land a reach job, it's a lot easier to get hired for a position you're actually qualified for. Examine the job you want and figure out if there are skills you can acquire to be ready. This might include hard skills like landing a certification or learning to speak another language. But it could also include improving your soft skills credentials by working on your sales or management abilities.
2. Examine the market
What's the state of hiring for your dream job? Is there a market for the position where you live? Are there a lot of openings?
It's hard to make a plan if you don't know the lay of the land. Learn everything you can about the market so you can be prepared with an answer to any question that might come up.
A logical way to start is by checking job listing sites like Indeed and Glassdoor. These will show you how many openings are out there and where to find them. You may find that in order to land the job of your dreams, you'll have to consider a move.
3. Activate your network
One of the best ways to get hired for a dream job is to know someone who's involved in the process. Referrals are the top source of new hires, "delivering more than 30% of all hires overall in 2016 and 45% of internal hires," according to the Society of Human Resources Management. Sometimes even a simple recommendation from a casual colleague can be enough to land you an interview.
Let your network know what you're looking for. That includes contacts in your field, as well as personal and other professional contacts. You never know -- maybe your cousin happened to go to school with someone who can help, or maybe your hairdresser's kid is exactly the person you need to speak with.
If you already have a job, you may want to go about this quietly -- think direct messages and emails, rather than broad social media posts -- but don't ignore your network because you're worried your current employer will learn you are looking.
4. Go beyond your network
Identify companies you want to work for and try to meet relevant people. Attend industry events and meet as many people as you can. You never know who might open a door for you, and putting yourself out there can only help.
Some industries have groups on popular social media sites. Others have trade magazines and websites where you can at least learn what's going on, if not actually make direct connections.
5. Don't be shy
If you know what you want to do and you're qualified to do it, reach out to people in the field who hire for that position. Schedule informational interviews (a sort of get-to-know-you interview that's not for an actual job) so you can make connections, even though there may not be an open job at that moment.
Play the long game and put yourself in position to benefit when a job actually opens up. You never know when a new contact may mention your name elsewhere or find a way to open a door for you.
You have to do it
Your dream job isn't likely to fall in your lap. You need to be proactive and take steps to make things happen.
Be aggressively promotional on your own behalf while also being patient. Make things happen, but understand that everything may not come together overnight. You can have your dream job, but getting there requires putting in the work not only to be ready for the job, but to show the hiring managers that you're ready.