Every professional has the ability to land their dream job, however, this is not the result of random happenstance and rather the result of intentional and strategic efforts in pursuit of a position they truly desire. So why do so many professionals, especially young professionals, struggle to land their dream job? The answer is a lack of ambition and patience. After graduation, young professionals feel immense pressure to gain employment resulting in a mad dash to submit applications, schedule interviews, and expedite interview processes. Much the same, many established professionals sacrifice proper planning, preparation, and strategic decision making in lieu of speed, especially when their primary motivation is to leave their current position. Unfortunately, many professionals endure the arduous hiring process only to find themselves in an all-too-familiar, unfulfilled position at a new company.

Both the recent college graduate and the seasoned professional can land their dream job by following these 8 steps:

#1 Know What You Want

Taking the time to clearly define what constitutes the dream position can make all the difference in landing one. Candidates set themselves up for failure when they accept interviews for any position, regardless of whether or not they would consider the role ideal. Most often, this happens when professionals have trouble defining what type of position they truly want and, in turn, blanket apply to any remotely relevant position they find. This leads to one of two poor outcomes: the candidate may apply to multiple positions within the same company (universally a bad sign to recruiters) or the candidate may waste valuable time interviewing for a position they don’t ultimately want. When candidates think long-term, have specific career goals in mind, and are committed to those goals during the interview process, they are doing both themselves and the companies a favor.

Once professionals have clearly defined their dream job, they should tailor a professional resume to that specific goal so that hiring managers will consider them an ideal candidate for these open positions.

#2 Be Ambitious

Be relentless in the pursuit of your goals.” -Zig Ziglar

Candidates should never back down from a goal that seems unattainable or settle for a job they aren’t interested in. To improve their chances of landing a dream job, candidates should develop a clear mental image of themselves being a valuable asset at the company and effectively convey that throughout the interview process.

#3 Always Dress Up, Not Down

Be sure that your resume is tailored for your dream job!

With many companies adopting the modernity of a casual dress code, candidates are unsure of how professional to dress. Here is our advice: When in doubt, dress up, not down. Being the best-dressed person in an interview can only improve the candidate’s chances. This is applicable for in-person interviews and video chat interviews. Although interviewers may only see the top half of the candidates’ bodies, looking the part for an in-person interview will make a good impression andmake the candidates feel more professional.

#4 Be Actively Engaged

Although a common piece of advice is to come to interviews prepared with questions in mind, the best questions will be thought of throughout the interview. Candidates should practice stellar listening skills to think of follow up questions to points brought up by the interviewer. This shows genuine interest in the position and company.

#5 Go Above and Beyond

It is important that candidates differentiate themselves through minor details that less interested candidates wouldn’t consider. Although sending a follow-up email after the interview is common practice, candidates can stand out by making contact before the interview, as well. To further differentiate themselves, candidates can send a hand-written note to say they are looking forward to the interview before, and a hand-written thank you card after.

Another way that great candidates differentiate themselves is to do an extensive amount of research. The research shouldn’t stop at information on the company website—it should consist of digging through the company’s Glassdoor profile, any recent news about the company, and personal details about who the candidate will be interviewing with. This is a great way to bring up talking points and make a personal connection with the interviewers.

#6 Get There Early

Candidates should always plan to arrive at an interview 15 minutes early. It is extremely beneficial to get there early to decompress, focus, and observe the energy of the office. This gives candidates a solid representation of the office culture and work style, and they can more easily determine if it is the right company for them.

#7 Make Connections

In the research and preparation phase of the interview process, candidates should look for common ground between themselves and any current employees. People love connecting over similar backgrounds or experiences, and building a connection with a current employee could result in gaining insight into the interview process and the company as a whole. Better yet, this connection could turn into a reference.

#8 Have a Strategy and Follow Through

There is no such thing as dreaming too big. If candidates are passionate about a specific role at a certain company, they should chase that goal relentlessly—but they will not be successful unless they are deliberate throughout the entire process. “Dream job” offers don’t come as a result of luck. In order to reach their goals, candidates must develop a plan and utilize every possible angle to win that position.

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