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If you find yourself daydreaming at work about another, better job, it’s time to make a change.

That said, it’s unwise to hand in your resignation letter without a plan. Below, we’ll discuss how to find the most efficient path to your dream job. To do that, you’ll need to understand what you’re after and how to be both competitive and realistic as you embrace the journey ahead.

Understand the Job Market — and Yourself

You may have a general idea about the type of job you want, but it’s still important to do some research into what’s available in that field or industry. You may just be surprised to learn how many options there are!

Conducting an internal inventory is a great place to start. This exercise helps you uncover the things that are most important to you in your next job. Once you have a clear understanding of your priorities, you can create career goals that are better aligned with your personal needs and wants.

Next, make a list of companies that interest you. Then, do your homework to learn more about these companies and the types of opportunities they can offer you. Understand that new technologies and trends in workplace culture mean the positions in your chosen field may be evolving and new roles may be emerging. Keep your eye on these developments as you consider your next career move. You can stand out from the competition by being prepared for both the role you want today and the role as it may exist in the future.

Get Educated

Whether it’s absolutely mandatory for the job or simply recommended, the right education is critical if you are serious about being a competitive job seeker. Luckily, getting that education doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school for another four years. Today, you can find expedited degree and certification programs in many if not most career tracks.

For example, a person could obtain a master’s in social work (MSW) in roughly one year through an online MSW program. Coding boot camps are also very popular among those who want to learn tech skills in a short period of time. Volunteer work and internships are yet another way to gain a lot of hands-on experience in your chosen field without going back to school.

Given the variety of educational options available, it’s worth taking some time to find the one that is right for you. Don’t rush into anything. Explore the options first, so that you know what is available. Then, determine whether you might qualify for certain expedited programs or experiences in your field.

Be Realistic About Your Goals and the Pace of Change

Once you have conducted your internal inventory, researched the job market, and found the best educational path forward, you may be ready to jump into your new career with both feet. While your enthusiasm is admirable, it’s important to be realistic and patient. Change takes time, even when you’re on the fast track, and that’s especially true for major changes like career transitions.

It isn’t productive to operate under the assumption that you will land your dream job overnight. Instead, continue your internal inventory by thinking critically about your career aspirations. You need to be certain about your goals and how you plan to get there. This way, you will be prepared to answer questions from peers and superiors when you begin seeking advancement within your organization or a target company. You should also create a portfolio that clearly shows potential employers how your experience, education, and passion make you the right fit for their organization.

Create a plan that will work by identifying milestones along your career path. Set realistic time frames and strategies for reaching these milestones, and be sure to invest some time in caring for yourself. You are embarking on a fulfilling but difficult journey, and you owe that much to yourself.

Colleen O’Day is a digital PR manager for 2U Inc. Find her on Twitter: @ColleenMODay.



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