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3 things we wish experts told us earlier about finding your dream job

Live your life by a compass. Not a clock, said Stephen Covey once. Finding your dream job has been a relentless pursuit for many. Others die trying. But we’re kept going through bad & good employers with the spirit of optimism that we will find someplace that truly brings out the best in us for our company, family & the world. My favorite job mantra is;

Blessed is the man who has some congenial work, some occupation in which he can put his heart, and which affords a complete outlet to all the forces there are in him- John Burroughs

Ever since I read this quote when I was still an intern while studying on campus, it has guided my career pursuits. I’ve benchmarked every new job against this. Something Seth Goden repeatedly reinforces in the book Linchpin as well. Unfortunately for most of us, career talks during our student days were almost unheard of. Every speaker also spoke of how to write a cv or ace an interview but few hardly advised us about how to make sure the job is a right fit for you in the first place.

One in four workers plan to switch jobs this year(2021), an increased pace compared to last year. Of the one in five workers who switched jobs last year, 33% identified as Gen Z and 25% as millennial, according to a new study from IBM’s Institute for Business Value. Now, these statistics are anything but shocking by now. We already expect millennials to form 75% of the workforce by 2025 and as Gen Z slowly enters the job market, we’ll share some tips today about the things one should consider as you go through career planning & job searching. So let’s dive in;

Know thyself

“If you need to conceal your true nature to get in the door, understand that you’ll probably have to conceal your true nature to keep that job. This is the one & only decision you get to make. You get to choose.”- Seth Godin (Linchpin Book)

There is some job-hopping by employees that is definitely attributed to confusion that stems from a lack of understanding of self. We know our culture of parenting & education system in Africa hasn’t really put enough resources into psychology and the science of self-awareness. We learn about ourselves the hard way through trial & error & multiple mistakes and heartaches to go with it. But with the age of technology now and every mobile phone being a supercomputer, information is at your fingertips. Get started by checking out some methods we highlighted in this blog such as Ikigai & personality tests. After that, use free online tests to assess your level of self-actualization and the rest of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There’s also a bunch of career quizzes online that help you discover your dream job such as these. Defining how success & happiness looks like for you in these 5 areas will help keep you focused on your career pursuits as you seek to fulfill the needs that are unmet for you. It will be your career compass. This also keeps your journey specific to you. I’ve met job candidates who have turned down big jobs or resigned because family came first over money. Others choose established companies over startups because of the need for security. Whether you’re looking at the employer brand name over the medical benefits or you’re keener on base salary because you’re paying for your education or want to drive the latest sports car, you’re entitled to want what you want. And while on that topic, it’s also to mention that one reality of life is that we may not always get what we want.

Unfortunately, most people have had to settle for less than perfect jobs because of many reasons. You shouldn’t turn down a good job that satisfies say 80% of your needs only. However, it is critical that you define these by separating them into 2 sections- negotiables & non-negotiables. What are you 100% sure you can’t budge on? A new mother may be keener on health benefits & flexible hours while someone else may turn down a job because the company’s culture or values don’t match their own or are compromising his integrity. Stand your ground on your non-negotiables while being willing to work around your other unfulfilled needs by figuring out how to achieve them maybe even outside work as we show here. Check out HBR’s article on the same

“Paradise is not a place; it’s a state of consciousness.” — Sri Chinmoy

The 3 buckets of growth

In this article, we showed different ways to assess your professional growth and evaluate new job options. Have a look at them and write them down in excel then organize them into the 3 buckets you should use to measure your job success. These are The Job, The Team, The Company. You’ll find that these needs are eventually tied to Maslow’s hierarchy needs above as well as your personality. You can arrange them further by order of importance to you. So under job, you can have;

  1. Job title
  2. Job stretch
  3. Impact, visibility
  4. Challenge
  5. Learning etc

Under company you can have:

  1. Stability/Bs circumstances
  2. Future forecast
  3. Culture
  4. Compensation/benefits
  5. Brand etc

Again, the key here is that you organize these according to what’s important to you and especially your non-negotiables. Some people won’t work for certain companies simply because of the industry or work that an employer does. While others don’t care much about brand perception. It’s all up to you. Do as much research as possible when considering new job opportunities so that your scores are guided by facts & reviews. Then if you’re considering job options, compare how each opportunity scores against the other maybe on a scale of 1–10. The job with the highest overall score wins.

There’s power in taking time off to restrategize and re-align goals. Life happens and priorities change too. A pension may not have ranked high in your list of needs 5 years ago but now it may be a necessary future-proof benefit that you can’t ignore. As we grow up, keep adjusting your worksheet to reflect your current & future wants.

Photo by on Unsplash

Embrace the pauses

Steady wins the race. Apart from taking some time off periodically, silence enables us to think more clearly as we show here. Learn how to practice self-reflection techniques and mindfulness like meditation or journaling. Recenter yourself to your life purpose and to the earth. Remind yourself of what you wish to achieve before your days are gone. Here are some mind awareness activities that can get you started on this such as morning walks, funeral tests, or a personal manifesto.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” — Mother Teresa

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” — Buddha

“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” — Eckhart Tolle

Another simpler way to conclude all this- Be sure your job satisfies your head, heart & wallet :-)

Whether you’ve just lost your job or are in a career crisis or a new graduate or an intern, combine these 3 tips and your pursuit of a dream job, and more importantly, fulfilling life will be achieved in no time. We hope you find these tips helpful. Have more? Please share them below in the comments. Happy hunting!

And since you’d rather miss out on a poor choice of a job earlier than 8 years in, check out



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Stella Ngugi

Stella Ngugi


HR Generalist| Founder @JobonicsHR | Where HR, Tech& Entrepreneurship meet| Eat. Pray. Code. Blog. Hire | 🇰🇪 IVisit for more info.