What makes a job a dream job? What's important to one person, in terms of a dream job, is obviously different for another person. However, a few macro items stand out as desirable for most people. These wish-list items often differ by generation and will change as you age, but it's still a good idea to consider what will make you happy in your job as you plan your career or begin a job search.
Consider also: How to Best Map Out Your Career Change
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Your Job Security
At the top of most people's lists when looking at a job is job security. No one wants to get fired or work for a company that is likely to go under. While more and more people are switching jobs much more often than was previously acceptable, job-hopping isn't taboo.
However, unless you have plenty of emergency fund cash saved, having a stable job – and income – is key when deciding between two offers or options. Explaining a short stay or resume gap can also be awkward for you during an interview.
Your Overall Compensation
The fact that it's a job means you want to get paid for what you do. Otherwise, we'd all be actors, athletes, musicians or have other fun lifestyles. Yes, many people start their job searches looking for satisfying, fulfilling work, but any job has to meet certain compensation requirements before you accept it.
Compensation is different than salary or wages. It refers to all of the money and benefits you receive. This can include a retirement account contribution, health insurance and perks. When you consider a job and negotiate your total compensation, look at all of the benefits you want and need, recommends Knew Money.
Enjoying Your Work
Most people consider the personal satisfaction they get from work as their No. 1 priority, but again, that's only if your job allows you to pay your bills and save for retirement. If you have your choice of good-paying jobs, think about the following as you consider what type of job will satisfy you personally:
- Do you enjoy the technical aspects of your work?
- Will you be able to develop your skills?
- Can you move into management?
- What is the corporate culture?
- Is the work challenging, rather than difficult or hard?
- Will you have a healthy work-life balance?
- Will you work with enjoyable coworkers, customers and vendors?
The Ability to Grow
The younger you are, the more you have to learn. If you want to climb the corporate ladder or start your own business someday, you're going to need to do more than just improve your technical skills. You will need to learn soft skills to become a manager. This can be what makes a job a career. You might need to get certified. You might need to learn more about legal compliance in your profession.
Look for jobs that will allow you to grow in both the technical aspects of your job and your own managerial skills. Ask if a current or potential employer offers training/tuition reimbursement. Find out if you can get a mentor. Make sure that any job you take gives you the opportunity to improve your career goals. Decide in advance what is important in a job interview to you.
Ability to Shift Personal Priorities
Talk to your older coworkers, family and friends and ask them how their priorities have changed as they near the end of their careers. Older workers often prefer more stability, along with strong health care and retirement benefits. After years of managing employees and dealing with customers and bosses, workers near the end of their careers might want less responsibility and will prefer to stay under the radar.
They won't necessarily want to coast, but they don't need to prove themselves to others – they've already done that. Ask them what changes they'd make if they were your age again, what things they did that they wouldn't do again and what things they didn't do that they wish they would have.
Consider also: Form 1040: What You Need to Know