What to do when you're not in your dream job

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

For many twenty-somethings the Coronavirus pandemic has heavily impacted our career development. Whether it has been a job loss, being put on furlough or working from home, there has been inevitable changes that don’t always align with what we hoped for.

Although we can’t control what has happened to us during this global pandemic, we do have control over our reaction to it. Our reactions and subsequent actions is what will shape our future. To have the future we desire it’s important that we think about how we are reacting to the current circumstances and not let any setbacks hold us back.

searching for dream job

Speaking first hand I found myself, as a recent graduate, job hunting right at the start of the pandemic. Applying for what felt like hundreds of jobs but getting nowhere. When I was lucky enough to land an interview I was later told they had someone else more experienced for the role. I reached a point where I realistically thought I can’t land a job I truly want right now. I decided to switch up my job hunting approach and looked at less qualified job roles where I felt I could still develop myself and skill set. This approached worked and I was finally back in the working world, just not where I really wanted to be.

I didn’t let this setback hold me back. I made the most of my time in role, taking on different tasks and challenges to learn more about myself and what I wanted. After 5 months in this job I have just landed my dream role. I truly believe that working in a different job helped me get there. It gave me more experience and confidence, allowing me to shine more on paper and in interviews.

I know I won't be alone in working within a job you didn't plan for. Prospects reported last May that out of the 1,202 final-year university students, 26.1% lost their work placement/internship, 29.2% lost their job and 28.2% had their job offer deferred or cancelled. If you are reading this and relate, I feel you and I really want to help you transform this ‘setback’ into a time of important transformation and growth.

The first thing you must remember is that you won’t be stuck in this job forever. Nothing in life ever stays the same, so this isn’t the end. Instead you need to try enjoy the experience and utilize your time. I know this is a lot easier said than done, which is why I have devised a list of where you can put your focus.

1. Write a gratitude list

Writing three things your grateful for every morning will help you stay present and positive. There are so many things to be thankful for but we can often forget about it in the rush of modern life. Starting the day with a dash of gratitude will instantly set you up for success.

2. Ask yourself 'What transferable skills can I develop here?'

Everything we do in life helps shape us and enables us to grow. The tasks you do in your job, even the ones you don’t enjoy can actually be really beneficial. They will develop your self- confidence and give you plenty of things to talk about in job interviews. Think about what skills your ideal job requires and how you can develop that in your current position.

3. Keep a record of your achievements

Have you taken an online course or solved a problem in the office? Perhaps you’ve found a better way to organise your work. Make sure you make a note of all the achievements you make. You may think you will remember but we are so quick to jump off to the next thing.

All the things you accomplish, big or small will help you succeed in future interviews. Interviewers want to here as many relevant examples as possible. Recording them will ensure you have a bank of examples to use ahead of an interview that you know clearly.

4. Record what you like and don’t like

Use this time to learn about what you like and don’t like when it comes to the working world. Perhaps you prefer group work to individual tasks or you’ve realized 9-5 isn’t the one for you. This will make you more confident when applying for jobs because you’ll know exactly how a role and company suits you. This confidence will come across to the employers.

5. Still activity search for roles you want

It’s important to not lose hope. You can still get to where you desire, so make sure you keep doing little actions to help you get there. …but don’t over do it!

It can be so easy to try search and search for a role, getting lost down the rabbit hole of Indeed or LinkedIn. In the end this will just leave you feeling burnt out and exhausted. It will also take you away from the present, stopping you enjoying life.

I recommend setting up alerts for key jobs in your area within your desired field. This saves you hours of unnecessary strolling!

Good luck on your career journey. A journey is a wave, there will be ups and downs but remember the Talk Twenties community is always here to support you. If you haven't joined already make sure you join our Facebook Group. You can instantly connect with other like-minded twenty-somethings.


Blog post author: Meg Tattersley

Meg is a Journalism graduate who now works in Higher Education to support current students. She wants to use her writing to support fellow twenty-somethings as they, like her, try navigate adult life.

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