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How To Define What It Is You Want To Do

What if I asked you to describe your dream job? It’s not a rare question, but arguably one that lies dormant for many as we do not think about it deeply enough. And through no major fault of our own. Life gets busy and our career doesn’t always follow the course we initially thought it would. Sometimes we get off track. Sometimes we start going through the motions. Sometimes we get so caught up in projects and routine that we stop questioning how off track we got about our professional aspirations and feel stuck. Sometimes we just don’t know where to start.

While finding the answer to this question can be a continuous process, it can be particularly intimidating in the field of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). This is due to a few different reasons: for one, women make up a smaller percentage of the workforce in this field; and further, it’s an industry that is highly specialized and it often takes many years to become skilled in one area of focus, making it more difficult to transition to something else. So, what can you do so that you keep evolving in your career while staying true to yourself and finding a way to do things that you really love?

To help you on this journey, which can be a complicated one, I’d like to share a high-level overview of a nine-step guide that has helped me tremendously in my career. More blogs will follow to provide you with even more tips and resources for each of the steps below, so stay tuned!

Step 1: Make space and create time to reflect.
The first step can really jumpstart your journey to a more rewarding career. At this point, you need to ruminate over your profession thus far: what have you specialized in? Have you been promoted? What have you learned? Which skillsets do you use, and which ones do you want to improve? Are you proud of specializing in something specific or are you prouder of being able to wear many hats? Have you been enrolled in any training or classes that you want to leverage more within your work? Have you recently graduated? A survey of the past will help you understand and then articulate what’s next.

Step 2: (Re)discover your strengths.
As human beings and as professionals, we sometimes pay more attention to our flaws more than highlight our strengths. However, it is equally important to know and be aware of what you do well. Why? Because once you know your strengths, you can build on them, boosting your confidence. Your strengths will provide you with valuable insights on which type of role is best suited for your skill set but will also make you feel fulfilled.

Step 3: Define your values.
When you know your strengths, you’ll want to build on them to build your future. And you want to be ready for this because as opportunities arise, if you don’t know what your most important values are, you are more likely to dismiss your instinct about something. You’ll be faced with making many decisions about your career and will likely have to answer to this question: how does your choice match your values? If your intuition tells you that your values are or will be aligned with the decision you are making, then you already have a clear answer. You will feel anchored as you stay true to yourself and your values.

Step 4: Do the work and build your career development plan.
This step is the one that is most commonly overlooked. Your career plan is where you put your thoughts to paper and get your hands “dirty”. Whether it’s in the form of a vision board or a written-out plan, document your long- and short-term goals – because research indicates that there’s something magical that happens when you physically write goals down instead of letting them just live in your mind. Of course, this isn’t about writing a dissertation. This is about having the key elements that will help you structure your aspirations. You will see that when you define your aspirations with a clear purpose, your will perceive the entire journey differently. What I personally love about this step is that you truly discover so much about yourself that you likely wouldn’t by simply carrying on with your day-to-day. I will share some templates and helpful resources in my upcoming blog.

Step 5: Find a mentor (or two, or more!)
Who is a mentor? There are no rules here. Choose someone who inspires you, but keep in mind that what inspires you now may not inspire you tomorrow. And that’s okay. Your aim at this stage is to talk your mentor through your strengths, your values, and your career plan outcomes. A mentor should provide a safe space for you to share your “craziest” goals and ideas, because the more you say them out loud, the more of a reality they become.

Step 6: Get online and get searching.
At this point in the process, you will have learned more about yourself, and this is the primary objective. But even so, you may notice that as you talk with your mentor(s) and peers, sometimes it’s not quite easy to articulate what you want to do next, even if you figured out your purpose in Step 5.

I recommend relying on external resources here: from social media to web searches, review and study as many jobs as you can that contain everything you’re interested by. But here’s the catch: don’t search by job titles, but rather look at the job descriptions. Collect all the keywords and descriptions that resonate with you and align with what you are looking for. Consolidate these findings in one document and start creating your own dream job description without worrying too much if such a job even exists.

Step 7: Talk, talk, talk.
This one’s the fun one. Catch up with your network of mentors, family, and people you trust and share your findings about your “dream job” description. Open yourself to debate as to how this description fits your long-term purpose and passions. Try to structure the content of your dream job description into themes, because you will see that the more you repeat yourself, the more confident you become about the process.

Step 8: Rebuild your résumé.
Now it’s time to rewrite your CV by completely rephrasing it based on your new mindset and set of interests. In fact, you will likely have to spend time on rewording a lot of it, making sure it aligns with that higher purpose. While you want to focus on the content, your résumé is your new business card by which you build your brand, so ensure it looks outstanding, with a catchy visible title and executive summary. Venture away from sounding robotic and show your passion in what you do – professionally and beyond. Ultimately, it’s a story you’re trying to tell in one page or two.

9: Job applications.
At this point in the process, you should have a much clearer idea of what is it you want to do and why. Feeling grounded in your strengths and values, you should be more confident in articulating the vision you have about your career and feel ready to deliver your “elevator pitch” in an impactful way. This will arm you to be able to explain any gap interviewers may raise between where you are coming from and where you’re aspiring to go. Once you start submitting applications, take care to hit quality over quantity (in fact, I’d suggest only applying for a job when you can verify that you have at least a good 80% match between the role description and your dream job description that you consolidated in Step 6). A word of advice? Don’t become consciously or unconsciously eager and despairing – this is supposed to take time, so be patient and compassionate with yourself.

While these steps come from my own experience, I hope they will inspire you to define what it is you truly want to do and have a fulfilling career – no matter who you are, where you come from, or where you want to go. Stay tuned for more!

About the Author

Hassina Saad is the Industry Global Segment Leader within GE Vernova’s grid electrification business, with a focus on helping industrial customers in their decarbonization journey for a more sustainable world. She has worked across multiple GE Vernova businesses globally and looks after the data center industry segment. With a mission to better understand customer challenges to power-up their critical infrastructure and build custom-made solutions, Hassina has experience in energy efficiency management, reduction of downtime, power back-up, microgrids, and lowering the carbon footprint. Hassina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Digital Science from the Université d’Évry, a Master’s degree in Global Supply Chain from École Supérieure de Management en Alternance, and an executive MBA in business entrepreneurship from ESSEC Executive Education.

Profile Photo of Hassina Saad