By Connie Felder, Deputy Director 

Connie Felder

Connie Felder

Have you wanted a new, better, or more satisfying job?

Whether you are employed or unemployed, there’s no better time to pursue your dream job – a job that will make you happy, a job that is a reflection of who you are, a job that fulfills your mission in life. Instead of conducting a traditional job search, why not pursue a life changing work change which begins with you – who you are and what you want.

Today, more then ever, it is important for all of us to find work that feeds our self-esteem – work we love to do that makes us happy. Why? No longer can we rely on our employers to provide job stability, rewards, structure and purpose to our careers. Traditional careers and stable career paths are virtually non-existent. Today, the real issue we face is not job insecurity, but the loss of meaning or purpose to our work. We must re-skill, re-learn, and re-invent ourselves in the face of constant change.

So, how do we find and maintain meaningful work in the turmoil of the new work economy? Each of us must take responsibility for managing our professional lives, like we manage our personal lives, and for finding rewarding work. We are entrepreneurs of our careers. Because of this, now, no matter how you go about it, you need to know yourself and stay in touch with who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer.

Two Paths to Self-knowledge

How do you learn what skills you have, what is important in your life, what interests you, and what your strengths and weaknesses are? Simply put, there are two paths to self-knowledge.

1) The long-term process of life experience and trial and error

Some people seem to just fall into work that expresses them and makes them happy. If you are the type of person that is willing to take risks and try different things you too may get lucky and find the job of your dreams. Learning about who we are through life experiences can be painful but in the end, it can be much more meaningful than simply taking a test to find out who you are. How do we know what we are capable of unless we try it? Entry level jobs in different industries will require basic skills that can be transferred from one job and industry to another so lack of skills should not prohibit you from trying different kinds of work. A good positive attitude is all you need. More so than my formal education, my early work experiences in many different jobs and industries including food service, retail, manufacturing, health care, and marketing/sales, helped me develop a belief in myself that I could do anything I wanted to do, which has led me to doing the work I love today.

2) The short-term, step-by-step process of career counseling and/or career exploration

Many people look to experts like career counselors for assistance and guidance in finding work that expresses their true selves. This process can be hard work and involve several sequential steps including research, self-assessment and testing, informational interviewing, and extensive networking.

A good way to get started in this process is take a Career Exploration workshop . Typically several paper and pencil or computer-based assessment tools are used to provide you with feedback on your skills, interests, values, and personality based on your answers to a series of questions. Many types of assessments are now available on-line but the most valuable part of this process is in working with an experienced career counselor in the interpretation of the results and planning next steps including researching jobs, industries, and starting the networking process.

If you wish to pursue this process on your own, without the assistance of an expert, than there are many good resources to guide you through the process. I would recommend Richard Bolles’ classic job-hunting manual, What Color is Your Parachute?

Generally, this method, though hard work, is worth the effort because it can accelerate your chances of finding your dream job. Yes, though I found my dream job through diverse work experiences, it took me almost twenty years!

The process you choose for learning more about yourself, what you have to offer, and what you want will depend on your personality style and how much time and determination you have. And if you don’t believe there is a dream job for you, you may choose to approach every job you have as your dream job and make the most out it. If you put your heart and soul into your work and have the right attitude you can transform any job into a dream job. As Jeffrey Gitomer says in The Little Red Book of Selling, “You become what you think about all day long.”

Here are some interesting questions that can help you get started in getting into touch with yourself:

1. What one thing have you thought about doing but never told anyone?
2. What do you dream about doing when driving your car?
3. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
4. What would you do if money was not an issue?
5. What makes you feel passionate?
6. What do you love most about yourself?
7. What do you fear the most?
8. What would you regret not doing, if your life ended?


Connie Felder is Deputy Director of RochesterWorks!   With almost 20 years’ experience in youth and adult workforce preparation programs, Connie is passionate about the career development process and the importance of individuals taking responsibility for their career journey in order to realize their full potential.    Connie has held jobs since she was 12 years old and believes that purposeful work is a primary vehicle for personal growth and self-actualization.  Connie holds a Master’s degree in counseling.

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