What’s your dream job? For many, this isn’t an easy answer to come by. But still, it’s an important question to ponder. This is especially true if you’re unemployed, unhappy at work, or considering a career change.
Even if you’re currently employed and doing okay, it’s still beneficial to know what your dream job is. In fact, it’s one of the first questions I ask my career coaching clients.
I ask this to get job seekers’ thinking about where they’re at in work. Are they happy? Unhappy? Where do they hope to go in the future? Most of the time, remote job seekers simply do not have a career plan or dream job in mind.
And that’s a problem.
When we don’t know what we want out of work, it leads to dissatisfaction and complacency. Not knowing what are dream job is makes it difficult to evaluate our current role Or, when at a crossroads in career or reached a dead end, it makes it impossible to make the right career pivot.
Knowing what our dream job is helps provide motivation and keeps us moving forward in our career. This forward momentum is important to professional satisfaction. Without it, we end up feeling complacent or as if something is missing. But we can never actually put our fingers on what that ‘something’ is.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone!
Melissa did everything the ‘right way.’ She went to college, graduated, and entered her chosen career path. Over the years, Melissa did well. Her performance reviews were on point. She was promoted. By all accounts, Melissa was thriving.
But, Melissa didn’t feel fulfilled. Often, she felt like she was spinning her wheels. That’s when she turned to me for help.
Melissa was successful on paper. Her colleagues loved her. Still, it wasn’t enough. Melissa needed personal satisfaction too.
That’s when I asked, “What’s your dream job?” To which she said, “I have no idea.”
Melissa was simply going through the motions. She did everything based on what she thought she should do and not what she wanted to do.
- Graduate college? Check.
- Get a job? Check.
- Climb the corporate ladder? Check.
Outside of the basics, Melissa had no idea what she really wanted. So before we could identify her dream job, we first had to gain clarity.
The easiest way to get career clarity is to establish your career ideals. What are career ideals?
Let’s take a closer look.
Your career ideals are what you want (and don’t want) from your career. They can be super specific, i.e., earn at least $75,000 a year with unlimited vacation policy. But they can be general too.
If you’re here visiting me, I bet one of your career ideals is “work remotely.” There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to your career ideals. But to get to them, it does require some self reflection.
I encourage you to take 15 minutes to complete this task. Seriously. Right now. Tell Alexa to set a timer for 15 minutes. Then open up a blank Google Docs or grab a pen and paper. Divide it into four columns and nine rows. Across the top write Area in Column 1, Can’t Have in Column 2, Must Have in Column 3, and Nice to Have in Column 4.
Now under the Area Column label each row as followed:
- Job Duties
- Skills Used
- Benefits Offered
Your document should look something like this:
How to Fill In Your Career Ideals Worksheet
The eight labeled rows under the Area Column are the common career ideals categories to consider.
You’ll think about each category individually. Then jot down your Must Have, Can’t Have, and Nice To Have ideals. Let’s do one as an example:
Let’s look at the Salary Row. Think about what your next job in terms of salary. What can’t it have? What are must haves? Can you think of something that would be nice to have but isn’t necessary?
For me, I said my next job cannot be commission based or anything less than $50,000 annually. It absolutely must pay at least $50,000 and come with annual performance reviews that can lead to raises. As for nice to have, I prefer that it is an annual salary and not hourly wage. It would also be nice if the job paid $60,000 (or more!).
I’ll fill in the rest of the worksheet so you can see how it’s done.
Think about previous jobs and jot down what you liked and disliked about the position. Often, it’s easier to come up with things you didn’t like — but remember, you need to figure out what you like too!
Your career ideals are not set in stone. In fact, they will change over the years as you progress through your career and life. For example, my career ideals changed quite a bit after I become a mom. I was more worried about hours worked and schedule flexibility than I was in the past.
There’s a reason you’re looking for a new job. It’s important you figure out why you’re unhappy in your current role and what would fix that. These are your career ideals. They will help drive your job search and make all the difference in finding your next job or landing your dream job.
Determine Your Remote Work Type
I’m always amazed by how specific we are when it comes to who we’ll date. Most singles will have a long list of traits they prefer. Heck, you can even ask someone what their “type” is and they’ll know immediately what you’re referring to.
Now, if you ask that same person what their remote work type is they’ll probably look at you with a puzzled look on their face like:
As a career coach, it’s my job to help you figure out your remote work type. Your type will build off of your career ideals that you just discovered in the previous step. When you combine your type and career ideals — well that’s where the magic happens.
The two together paint a picture of your dream remote job. Remember, if you’re unhappy in work right now, we want to fix that. And the best way to fix that is by finding your ideal job, not just any old job.
Sure, you could find a remote job pretty quickly. But what are the odds you’ll find satisfaction and happiness there? Pretty slim! When you make a career change or pivot, it should be towards something that provides lasting satisfaction and happiness.
To do this, you need to find your career ideals and remote work type.
So, what is your remote work type? Let’s figure it out.
The 3 Types of Remote Jobs
Generally speaking, there are 3 main types of remote jobs:
They all have their unique pros and cons. You’ll use your career ideals determined in Step 1 to complete Step 2: Determine Your Remote Work Type
But before we do that, let’s look closer at each of the three remote work types.
Remote Work Type 1: Employee
Remote employees are hired on a W2 basis (here in the US). That means taxes are withheld from paychecks and you are entitled to certain benefits. For example, employees are often eligible for company-sponsored health insurance, paid time off, and other perks.
Employees usually have greater job security and stability. For example, most employees know well in advance what their schedule is like and what hours they’re expected to work for example Monday through Friday, 9 to 5.
Employees can be either full time or part time. It’s important to note, part-time employees may not be eligible for benefits!
On the flip side, remote employee positions don’t offer a ton of flexibility. Typically, you are expected to work set hours or shifts every week. You may also be required to provide (and keep) a quiet home office free of distractions. In other words work is your priority and you have to schedule life around it.
Remote employee positions are just like traditional in-office jobs. You wouldn’t bring your kids to the office or allow your dogs to tag along to work. Companies that hire remote employees expect that you’ll treat your home office just as you would an in-person cubicle. The only difference is, instead of a daily commute, you get to work from home.
If your career ideals include stability, health benefits, paid time off, advancement opportunities, set schedule, and steady pay, you’re remote work type is probably Employee!
Remote Work Type 2: Freelance
Freelancers are their own bosses. When you freelance, you sell your skills or services for a pre-determined fee. For example, you might freelance as a writer. You sell your writing services at a rate of $0.05 per word. If you write a 1,000 word blog post for someone, you charge them $50.
Freelancers are not employees. That means you do not have taxes taken out of your payments. Instead, you must remember to pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS. Also, freelancers are not eligible for benefits like health insurance or paid time off. You would have to get your insurance through Healthcare.gov, for example.
Because freelancers are not employees, they enjoy greater flexibility in how and when they work. In fact, freelancers can keep their own schedules and can work whenever or wherever they please.
Feel like sitting at Starbucks to work? Great! You can as a freelancer. Prefer to hit the road while earning a living? No problem! Freelancers can be digital nomads, working with nothing more than a laptop and wifi.
You can sell just about anything as a freelancer. Some popular freelance services include:
Keep in mind, freelancers have to find their own clients. It’s up to you to find potential clients, pitch your services to them, and secure them as clients. A good place to start is to create a freelance service website and scout leads on LinkedIn.
If your career ideals include flexibility in how and when you work, 100% telecommute, unlimited earning potential, and indifference to benefits, freelance would be a good fit for you! Remember, as a freelancer you don’t have to maintain a quiet home office or be available during standard business hours. Freelancing is often attractive to parents, caregivers, or those who want to pick and choose when they work.
Remote Work Type 3: Contract
Contractors are hired on a 1099 basis. At the end of the year, you’ll receive a 1099 showing “non-employee compensation” earned throughout the year.
That means you need to track earnings and pay quarterly estimated taxes to the IRS. Similarly, you are not eligible for benefits like health insurance or paid time off.
When you contract with a company, you receive a steady stream of work. In other words you don’t have to find clients. Instead, the company you contract with provides work for you but might require that you complete a minimum number of hours each week.
Companies that hire remote contractors:
Contract roles offer greater flexibility than employee positions, but not quite as much freedom as freelancing. For example, if you contract with Appen as a Search Engine Evaluator, work will be provided to you but you have to complete at least 10 hours of work each week.
Similarly, a lot of transcription companies hire remote workers on a contract basis. These companies often require you to complete a set number of transcripts per week or be available to claim work during typical business hours.
If your career ideals include flexibility, stable pay, 100% telecommute, predictable schedule, and indifference to benefits, contract work would be a dream job for you.
What is Your Remote Work Type?
Now that you know all about the different types of remote work, it’s your turn. What type of remote worker are you?
Remember to take a look at your career ideals to figure this out. If health insurance through your job is a must-have, then employee positions are right for you. However, if your prioritize flexibility over all else, then freelance is more your style.
Only you can truly evaluate you and your ideals to determine your remote work type. If you’re not sure, refer to this handy flowchart. It will help:
Step 3: Set a Career Goal
Goal setting for your job search is important. I can’t stress this enough. Goals give us direction, purpose, and provide motivation. Plus, research shows that career goals provide these benefits:
- Clearer focus
- Optimum use of resources
- Better use of time
- Peace of mind
Wouldn’t it be great if you could confidently enter your remote job search with a clear path of where you want to end up? Well, you can. All you have to do is provide yourself a goal. Doing so will help you make better job decisions, offer peace of mind, and free up time for job search activities that matter most. But you don’t want to set just any goal. Instead, give yourself a SMART goal.
What is a SMART goal?
SMART is a system for goal setting that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. You will use your career ideals and remote work type to give yourself a SMART goal that will show you the way to your dream remote job.
The good news is, SMART breaks goal setting down into easy chunks.
This is important because most job seekers provide a very broad and general goal, i.e., “Find a work from home job.”
But now that you’re aware of your career ideals and remote work type, any remote job simply will not do. So, let’s set a goal that is SMART. First up, Specific.
Specific Remote Work Goal
Be sure to get specific and reference your remote work type when goal setting. Most remote job seekers simply say, “I want to find a work from home job.” But not you! You’re going to specify what kind of remote job you’re after using your career ideals and remote work type. For example:
I want to find a remote employee position in human resources at a non-profit. Now let’s build on that and make your goal measurable.
Measurable Remote Work Goal
How do you know when you’ve achieved a goal? If you don’t provide measurement, you’ll never really know. Let’s look at fitness for an example. If your goal is to get into better shape, how might you make that goal measurable? Well, you might say:
Lose 25 pounds
Run a 5k
Deadlift 150 pounds
See? Once you’re able to do that, you’ve reached your goal. So, how can you do the same when your goal is career oriented?
Well, you could say something like:
- Get one job offer in writing
- Apply to 5 jobs a week over the next month
Now your goal might be: Apply to five jobs a week until I receive one job offer in writing for a remote employee position in human resources at a non profit.
Hooray! Your goal is both specific and measurable. Now it’s time to see if it’s Achievable.
Achievable Remote Work Goal
There is nothing more defeating than giving yourself a goal that was impossible to achieve from the start. Doing so is literally setting yourself up for failure. Do not self sabotage. Instead, focus on giving yourself a goal that is achievable.
Let’s look at our example: Apply to five jobs a week until I receive one job offer in writing for a remote employee position in human resources at a non profit.
Are you able to apply to five jobs a week? If you’re a busy parent or caregiver, going to school, and/or working full time, applying to five jobs a week might not be achievable. If not, then scale it back to two or three.
Let’s look at our fitness example again. You wouldn’t say “lose 20 pounds in a month.” That’s setting yourself up for failure. Instead, you might say lost 1-2 pounds a week. This is still a challenging goal, but definitely not impossible.
Remember, your remote work goal should challenge you slightly but still be easily achieved with hard work.
Next, we’ll look at your goal to see if it’s realistic.
Realistic Remote Work Goal
Again, goals should be challenging but not impossible to reach. If you just graduated from college, you would give yourself a goal to get a remote job as the CEO of a large corporation, right? It’s just not realistic at the moment.
Similarly, if you want to make a career change that requires a new set of skills you might have to go back to school. If you don’t want to (or can’t) enroll in school, then your goal isn’t realistic.
Only you can decide whether your goal represents a career objective you are able and willing to work toward.
Timely Remote Work Goal
Lastly, you want your goals to be time sensitive. Why? Think about it, you spend most of your time accomplishing things that have a deadline.
- Going on vacation on a specific day? You start packing that week.
- Have a test coming up? You make sure to set time aside to study.
- New Year’s Eve next week? You start figuring out party details.
When you give your goal a timeline, you’re more likely to spend time working on it.
By now, you created a specific, measure, achievable, realistic goal. Now, let’s make it timely.
You can easily do this by adding a specific start day and end date.
Starting January 1, I will spend the next six months applying to five jobs a week until I get one job offer in writing for a full time remote employee position in human resources at a non profit.
Boom! How’s that for a SMART goal?
Of course, you can revisit your SMART goal at any time. If the six months is up and you still haven’t reached your goal, that’s okay. You reevaluate, reset, and re-start your goal.
That’s the beauty of SMART goals. They are not set in stone. You can change them as needed or break them down into much smaller action steps.
Find Your Dream Remote Job
That’s it! My three-step, fool-proof system to help you identify your dream remote job. Because you don’t have to settle for any remote job. You can shoot for the stars and get the remote job that makes you happy and provides satisfaction.
Now that you know which remote job is perfect for you, how about you start your job search?
I highly recommend The Effortless Remote Job Search. For just $27, you get lifetime access to the e-course that teaches you where to search for real remote jobs so you can avoid scams and pyramid schemes.
The course is totally self-paced and purposefully split into bite-sized lectures. In a matter of minutes, you’ll know exactly where to find thousands of real remote jobs. The best part? You don’t have to spend a ton of time searching so you can spend more time applying: