Erika Heald

How to Find Your Dream Job

By: Erika Heald | February 14, 2017 | 
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How to Find Your Dream JobIt sounds like I’m kissing up to my boss when I say this, but I’m not.

It’s completely true.

And something I tell people in person all the time.

I love my job.

It is, in fact, my dream job.

I spend all day, every day, thinking about content marketing.

I’m paid to create content about…creating content, PR, digital marketing, communications, and all the other topics that are always swirling around in my brain.

Of course, the first thing someone says after I make that proclamation is, “So, how did you get that job?”

Despite there being millions of jobs advertised on Internet job boards every day, that’s not how I landed here.

And it wasn’t via my LinkedIn profile either.

It also wasn’t something that happened quickly.

It was actually several years in the making.

Luckily for you, however, it’s something you can easily replicate.

You can find your dream job by following these steps.

It just takes some time.

First, Understand What Your Dream Job Is

We’ve all had that moment when a friend or colleague lands a juicy new position and we think to ourselves “Darn it! There goes my dream job.”

But the thing is, that’s far too late to have that “aha!” moment.

Once a job has been posted, that’s also too late.

To find your dream job, you need to think about your core capabilities and what you really love to do.

Where do your interests and your skills intersect?

What occupies your thoughts when your mind wanders?

How can you get paid to do what you love, every day?

For me, this was pretty easy.

I’ve been a writer for most of my life.

In junior high school, we had to practice our business letter writing skills, so I wrote a letter to San Diego State to ask for information about their journalism program.

Fast forward a few years and that’s where I majored in journalism with a magazine emphasis.

I have content on the brain all the time.

I dream about content.

I stop on the street while walking to the corner store to record audio notes to myself to capture ideas for blog posts.

I have dozens of content pieces percolating in Evernote at all times.

You get the picture.

Identify the Skills You Need to Develop to Find Your Dream Job

In 2012, I realized that although I loved the team I was working with, my crisis communications work wasn’t going to help me achieve my goal of leading content for a content, marketing, PR, and communications-focused organization.

I also realized that working in a highly regulated industry which blocked all manner of social media meant I was lacking in the current digital marketing skills I’d need to land that sort of role.

I took a three-pronged approach to tackling this issue:

  • I volunteered for project work within our organization that had a social media component.
  • I started taking university extension social media courses after work.
  • I deployed the social media skills I’d honed in my personal life and put them to use in a 10-hour per week moonlighting social media role.

By the end of the year, I had enough experience and know-how to successfully make the leap from financial services communications to start-up content marketing.

Start Looking for Your Ideal Manager

I know most of us focus on how to find our dream job.

But what’s even more important is finding your dream boss.

After all, research shows time and again that people don’t leave jobs or companies, they leave bad managers.

On the flip side, people will follow a great manager to different roles within an organization, and even from one company to another.

I know because I’ve been on both sides of that equation.

Several years ago, I met Gini Dietrich at Social Media Marketing World, having been introduced to her previously online by my friend Brandie McCallum, and there, in person, by Andy Crestodina.

To say that we hit it off like a house on fire is an understatement.

The more I got to know Gini, the more it became clear to me that I wanted to work for her, and help her conquer the world of online training to help communications pros transition into the world of modern PR.

Once you find your dream boss, you can start refining what your dream job looks like.

Find Your Dream Job by Pitching Yourself When the Time is Right

It took two years of plotting—including a dinner where I laid out where I saw myself being able to contribute to her vision—before the time was right to make my move.

And if I am completely transparent here, it wasn’t my strongest move.

In the Wes Anderson movie version of this story, I’d have shown up on Gini’s doorstep after some crazy journey, and with an elaborate plan in mind.

Instead, I messaged her on Facebook to let her know I was striking out on my own and would love to work with her on a project.

Or on world domination.

You know, whatever she had planned for the summer months.

Luckily for me, she took me up on it.

Last October, over dinner in Cleveland, we cemented our plan of action.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

It was far from an immediate goal achievement, but I’m not complaining.

Are You Ready to Find Your Dream Job?

It takes persistence to find your dream job, but it can be done.

Start on that path today by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Who do you want to learn from?
  • Whose vision gets you excited?
  • What would you do every day if you weren’t being paid?

Once you find the right person to work for, befriend them.

Read everything they write on their blog.

Chat with them as often as you can via social media.

Uncover what their organization needs which you can deliver.

And then, when the time is right, make your pitch!

And that’s how you’ll find your dream job.

For more ideas on how to land an awesome job in content and community management, check out last week’s Content Chat recap.

Have some tips to share for landing your dream job?

Let me know in the comments!

About Erika Heald


Erika Heald is a San Francisco-based marketing consultant. She focuses on helping technology and specialty food start-ups define their content marketing strategy to drive lead generation and customer loyalty. You can find her on her blog erikaheald.com, or hosting the weekly #ContentChat Twitter chat.

  • Pete Salmon

    You need to work for your dream boss, Erika. Anyone short of that is a target of your book tossing.

    I’ver never heard the expression “we hit it off like a house on fire.” May i incorporate that into my active vocabulary? I don’t know what it means–but that’s the best part.

  • paulakiger

    I love this, Erika. Many members of our Weaving Influence team ended up there after following many of the steps you share here. I also think a dream leader is exactly that. When you find one, it is indeed a fortunate thing.

    • When you work for someone who isn’t a good fit, you expend so much of your energy just…trying to figure out how to communicate with them daily. To get what you need from them, including enough space to do your job, can feel impossible. But working with all those folks who aren’t the right fit is helpful for determining who will be the right fit. So it’s character building, and gives you lots of blogging anecdotes… 😉

      • paulakiger

        Oh so very true.

  • I’ve shared how I ended up here previously, and it was also a long journey of friendship, plotting, relentless pursuit, and basically staying in Gini and Lindsay’s faces so much, it was just easier to hire me.

    So glad destiny brought you here! And excited to continue on our path of world domination with you on the team.

    • Now, if only we could find a cache of original Trapper Keepers to customize… 😉

      <3 working with you, lady!

  • Stalking, there’s a lot of stalking .. ahem, networking in my future. As much as the job itself, it’s the ‘dream’ of the right boss, right gig, right schedule that I have to figure out. And FWIW, my Evernote has many a decent post languishing away too.

    • Evernote saves me from having a pile of sticky notes all over my desk… 🙂

      And agree RE: schedule. 9-5, M-F doesn’t work for everyone (or even most of us). So important to determine what amount of flexibility you need.

  • Tatiana Beale

    This is such an insightful and thoughtful read. I can personally attest to everything you have shared, since you were the one who helped me find my dream career path. Thanks for sharing, I bet this advice will help many.

    • Thanks, Tatiana! I think too often people don’t take the time to really think about where they want to go and how to get there. I hope having this framework encourages more folks to get started!

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