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How to become world-class at finding your dream job

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So I was sitting there on the floor of my dorm room, listening to the recruiter tell me about the salary they wanted to pay me, and I started cracking up.

In college, when I first started seriously looking for jobs, I decided to become world-class at finding my dream job. I wanted to be able to reliably secure the best internships and jobs (even un-advertised ones), including mastering interviewing, salary negotiation, and most importantly, deciding what I wanted to do with my life.

Since I’m a weirdo and I tend to go overboard with certain things, I ended up having a series of hilarious experiences in the job hunt.

One company I was talking to, a very large software company, extended me a job offer for their RDP, aka their Rotational Development Program, which was for people they identified as having high potential. I’m sitting there, a college student on the floor of my dorm room (my bed was too messy to sit on), and the recruiter tells me about the job offer, salary, benefits, and all that.

Then she added something about their “ranking” system. “You’ll be graded on a scale of 1-5 here,” she said. “Most people get a 3, but our RDP employees tend to get a 3.5. Almost nobody gets a 4, and nobody in RDP has ever gotten a 5.”

Once she hung up the phone, the first thing that went through my head was, “I WILL GET THAT 5!!!” I almost shook my fist in determination, like I was about to go to battle.

And then I started cracking up. What the hell was wrong with me? Why was I so determined to get a 5? What is a 5, anyway? A random number given to me by a random person that tells me how valuable I am? I found it absurd that I got so hot and bothered about a ranking system — and the company knew that I would do just that.

See, if you put a problem in front of smart people, they’ll often lunge at it like rabid dogs. But they often won’t consider if they really SHOULD be tackling that problem at all.

I ended up getting multiple job offers from some of the top companies in the world. And over the next few weeks and months, I want to share some of the techniques on how I did it.

But first, I want to know the exact questions you have about finding your own dream job.

Do you have a dream job already? If so, tell me about it. If not, why not?

What do you want to learn most about? Finding your “passion” (what is that, anyway?). How to write a winning resume? The best techniques for negotiating salary? Answers to the toughest interview questions?

Leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you Wednesday with some answers. The more specific your question is, the more likely I’ll answer yours!

See you Wednesday.

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338 Comments

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  1. Ramit, I would definitely like to learn about how you wrote a winning resume and how you followed up with companies to land so many entry level jobs. I have read about how to stand out but most of that information seems to apply to freelance jobs. Is it even possible to stand out for a vague job title like “Associate”?

  2. I want to know how one who has mainly right-brain interests (psychology and writing) can survive with minimal brain damage until he has his own business. 🙂

    What is passion? For me, passion means 3 things:
    1. an activity that I would do despite of being tired
    2. an activity that I would do even for free
    3. an activity that puts me in the flow state (the state where you perceive that times flies by, because you like it, instead of going slower, because you loathe it)

    • “You need to be WAY MORE SPECIFIC.”

      I’ve never been good at math, but my parents insisted that I would go get a computer science degree, because they saw that I’m good with computers. I could handle some of it, because I had the experience, but I couldn’t handle all the math that was involved in the process, so I dropped out. Now I see it as a failure, knowing that I wasted all these years on a path that wouldn’t bring me satisfaction.

      By default, I’m very much interested in topics like Psychology, Marketing, Writing, I can do this kind of stuff all day, without external motivators. I could also do computer stuff that doesn’t involve math, like html and css, but only in a “carrot and stick” fashion, and the thought of doing it for a prolonged period of time gets me depressed.

      Now I’m at the point of switching paths, and I see it as an advantage to know exactly what I’m passionate about, but I don’t know which options do I have in the first place, given the situation.

      So my main concern right now is finding out a job where I can use my passions to get an income that allows me to survive without relying on my parents.

      Thank you for reading this far. 🙂

  3. Whats the best way to introduce yourself to an organization/business, even if they’re not hiring, with the goal being they know you exist and that if “something opens up” they will remember and call you?

    In other words, getting those “un-advertised” jobs.

    (I have an idea it will involve getting in their heads- possibly showing them how you would solve a problem they might be facing?)

  4. First, I’ll define my dream job.
    •Earning potential of 6 figures within 2-5 years
    •Work week is 30-40 hours on a flexible schedule
    •Amazing colleagues who are supportive and positive
    •Challenged daily and forced to live in my stretch zone

    Questions:

    What are the specific first 3 steps to take to get yourself noticed in front of the decision makers (not necessarily the HR dept) of top notch companies?

    What is the best way to demonstrate tons of value to a company that you dream of working at?

    What is the best way to persuade your dream company to give you a chance even though you have limited to no experience in the particular field you want to work in?

  5. You’ve already covered the big questions but there is still I would more I would like to learn.

    Using your tips helped me land a few great jobs here at the university. I now help friends out by passing along my old job offers.

    Even still, there’s a huge % of people that just do not have the skills, education, or even valuable work experience to aid their jump into better paying “job security”.

    Ramit, If you were in that pool, how would you upsell yourself enough to get out that hole?

  6. CantSayPublicly Link to this comment

    I want to know one would go about changing one’s career. Suppose you work at job X but you want to switch to related job Y. Everybody wants to hire you for X since you have experience in that but you want Y. How do you go about switching?

  7. So far most of these questions are good, but vague. You need to be WAY MORE SPECIFIC.

    Talk about what you’ve already tried, what’s worked/not worked, and why you think that is. Talk about the 3 options you have going forward and be specific about which you’re leaning towards.

    Vague questions like “How can I do X?” always get vague answers. I’d rather answer something particular to your specific situation.

  8. How do I use LinkedIn for networking and job application? Have folks been successful using cold-calling techniques (the LinkedIn equivalent would be an InMail) contacting a recruiter? Let me explain.

    I have been working at my current job for three years, and am looking to move to a different company. I am doing exciting, challenging work at my current company – the problem is, my current workplace is in government. I have a Masters from a prestigious public university in the MidWest and know I am great at what I do, but I am concerned that the popular sentiment these days about government workers – lazy, unproductive, overpaid (ha! as if) may have stuck and I may be getting shut out before I can even get an interview.

    My goal is to get into a global non-financial services firm to get the chance to do a different kind of financial analysis. How can I tailor my approach via social media and networking?

    What I am already doing – Over the past few months, I have trained myself in a few software packages that will give me an edge over others. I am currently working on publishing my LinkedIn profile publicly, getting feedback on the language and content and considering putting together a personal website as well. I also plan to ramp up my offline networking presence, and contact select former coworkers to see what’s out there.

    What I will not do – I am very sure that if I simply send my resume out into the online ocean, however well-written and well-edited it may be, I will get zero responses. So, that’s out of the question. Schmoozing at conferences is not my forte either, and while I will practice it to get better, I am not banking on it as my sole way to a new job. I am also a little wary of getting jobs solely by reference. I got my current job via reference from a VP, then the VP left, and I’ve had to deal with some office politics as a result. If I can avoid it, and get in solely on merit, I would prefer it. (I also welcome your thoughts on this..)

    I want to see what’s there to the LinkedIn phenomenon, and would like to hear if you have any strategies / suggestions that have been successful.

  9. I am currently looking to seriously reduce my workload, because at the moment I am pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in addition to a demanding full-time job and am very close to a burn out.

    There is a special kind of scholarship in my country for people who are studying and have been employed for at least 3 years (which I have). Basically, you get 700 bucks a month (after taxes) and are allowed to earn about the same amount in addition to the scholarship, everything above that threshold you’d have to pay back at the end of the year.

    At my current hourly rate, that would come down to ~ 10 hrs / week, which is way less than any full-time or even part-time job available. The minimum is usually 20-25 hours. While I could just take on some random job at a bar, I would really like to improve my experience in my professional field (software development), so how would you negotiate in such a case?

    Scenario A: Take on a new job and convince them to employ me for 10 hrs / week.
    Scenario B: Talk to my current boss about reducing my workload to 10 hrs / week. (Less likely, they have some kind of “min 30 hrs / week” policy, but possibly not set in stone).

    I guess that should be detailed enough and I’m really looking forward to your suggestions! 🙂

  10. Three questions I have:

    – How can I make my resume and cover letter AMAZING?
    – Should I set up informational interviews with people at a company before applying?
    – Would it be beneficial to email some of the top managers/CEO ask a few specific questions about the company and learn about the specific challenges they are currently facing?

    I watched the resume boot-camp with Penelope Trunk that you had on your blog, and found it helpful and applied some of the techniques discussed to my resume. But it didn’t mention a cover letter, and I’m more interested to hear what you have to say about what makes a resume great.

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