Experts are calling it the “Great Resignation.” Post-pandemic, people are quitting their jobs in droves — a record 4 million in April alone, according to Labor Department statistics — looking for more fulfillment, flexibility, security, more money, more… happiness.
“It’s been a long time coming,” says Morgan Keasler, a career expert with Point Road Group and certified HR professional. “The pandemic forced a lot of change to happen — some of it that I think people were longing for before, but a lot of employers weren’t ready to accommodate. And for some people, it’s been a great time to reevaluate priorities. With so much going on in the world, it makes you think, ‘What do I want out of my life and what am I looking for?’”
Cue the millions giving their two weeks’ notice to pursue their passionate side hustles, go back to school, take a job that offers more security or money, or allows them to work in a different part of the world. After what’s been perhaps the worst employment period in recent memory, it feels like we may be on the edge of a more optimistic era, one in which the dream job — however, you may define it personally — is king. “I love that we’re seeing people stand up for what they need,” says Keasler. “I really am super inspired and respect the people who are taking a step back and saying, this is what I need and I’m going to make it happen.” Finding your dream job can be a hard task, but some have been fortunate enough to have taken a step back to start pursuing their ideal career.
Of course, there are still thousands of people out there who don’t know how to find their dream jobs. Maybe you know it’s time for a change, but aren’t sure what starting a new job looks like or how to get there. We asked Keasler for five questions to ask yourself to figure out where to start.
1. Take a Second, and Ask What Are My Values?
The first thing to do if you’re thinking about making a change is to take some time to reflect on what motivates you at work. “Do you want to be doing a job where you really care about the mission or the product? Do you to make a bunch of money for a while?” says Keasler. Both are equally valid. So is wanting a job that’s a recession (or pandemic) proof and wanting a job that allows you to work remote full-time so you can live the digital nomad life.
“Think about previous roles: what you loved and what you hated and what you want to avoid in the future,” Keasler says. “There’s not always just one answer, but if you can focus on one primary goal, you can make everything flex around that. If you have this whole dream pie, it’s going to be really hard — especially all at once. So, being super honest with yourself is a great first step.”
2. Ask Yourself, Who can I talk to?
If you’re coming up short on inspiration, talk to people who seem to really love their jobs. “Don’t just talk to four or five people — talk to everybody,” Keasler says. DM the person with the cool-seeming job you follow on Instagram, ask people you went to school with about their industries, get coffee with your friend who loves her side hustle. “Ask not just about the good stuff, but the challenges,” says Keasler.
“Change is really hard, even when you want it,” she adds. “Having somebody to help you work through that, I think, is really helpful because it’s hard to be objective about your own life and your own career.”
3. Do I Want to Start a New Job or Is My Current Job Just Not Working?
Maybe you don’t need a full career change — your current employer sucks. “Really think about why you’re leaving and evaluate new opportunities [based on that],” says Keasler. Is the work-life balance horrible? Look for companies that explicitly prioritize that in job descriptions. Is the company culture misogynistic? Look for a female-founded company or one whose leadership team is packed with women you admire.
4. Do I want to go back to the office?
For some people, a silver lining of the pandemic has been the newfound ability to have a flexible or remote work schedule, and many companies are announcing plans to offer those options long term. Do you want to work in an office again? Do you want to live in a different city? Now’s the moment to make it happen. By taking the right steps and asking the right questions you can work toward finding your dream job and easing back into life post-pandemic.
5. Can I Use My Side Hustle as a Realistic Job?
It’s hard not to get philosophical about what you’re doing with your life after the past year. Maybe this is the moment to turn your newfound knitting-as-self-care hobby into an Etsy store or your side gig as a photographer into a full-time thing. That’s awesome — as long as you’re realistic about what it will take to get it off the ground.
“The entrepreneurs I know are the hardest working. Whatever they are doing, it’s their life; it’s not just their job,” says Keasler. “You need to be prepared to push through a tough year or two.” If you’re not in a place where you have your finances and health care sorted out (yet), “what baby steps can you take to work towards that goal while you’re still working a full-time job?” Keasler says.