Take The Leap With These Steps To Finding Your Dream Career

By Bridget O'Donohue
16th Apr 2020

Right now, many of us could be feeling a mental shift in the way we perceive our working life. This may be the first time in years you’ve even had a second to think about career planning and changing jobs. But before you get to the nitty-gritty of resumes and job applications, we spoke to careers advisor Judy O’Donohue for some tips on the first steps to take when thinking about a new career. 


“If you’ve been on the career conveyer belt and studied for years for your dream job, only to find it wasn’t what you thought, this situation has allowed for some welcome time and space to explore,” Judy O’Donohue says. 

Before you do anything else, get out the butcher’s paper and write down any career-related questions or thoughts to get the ball rolling. Ask yourself these questions. 

Do my career goals align with my desired lifestyle and values? What are my values? Does my work culture suit my personality? What parts of the working week do I dread? Can I change these by moving jobs or changing habits? Is the dread connected to the career itself? Do I see job satisfaction and growth long term? 

 If your friends or family were to ask “why do you do it”, could you answer? 


Everybody loves a personality quiz, and your career doesn’t have to be the exception. The results of these are by no means final, but they’re a useful tool for exploring new avenues or ruling out irrelevant ones. 

With so many sites around, O’Donohue recommends reliable, quality websites from trusted sources. 

“A good quiz will help you think through all your skills, values, strengths, types of jobs that might suit you,” she says. 

The Government’s Job Outlook has a stack of useful tools to start your adventure. Their career quiz is user friendly and allows you to select your favourite activities from a list of everyday work tasks. The result is an extensive list of career profiles that meet your work preferences and interests, giving you a break down on weekly pay, future growth and skill level. It’s useful for finding careers you never knew existed and providing realistic expectations about salary and prospects. 

My Future is another free portal with a heap of activities for exploring new careers. There are questionnaires to investigate your ideal working conditions, interests and values, all aimed at developing self-knowledge for career decision making. The algorithms help to find occupations that match your results and the more activities you complete, the more specific your suggestions will be. 

It’s important to consider these quizzes as a resource and not a prescription. 

“When you look at the options presented to you at the end of the quiz, remember it is just a sample of ideas. Dig deeper and don’t just accept the options,” O’Donohue says. 


Knowledge is power when hunting for a new career, and O’Donohue confirms that research is key. 

“Find out about you, find out about the world of work, find out where you can do that job and if it is possible for you to get there,” she says. “The more you read, watch or listen to information, the more you will find out about your ideal job.” 

  • Talk to your friends, family, colleagues—what do they see as your strengths? Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves and could provide helpful insight. 

  • Look at different industries and where they are moving in the future. Head back to Job Outlook and My Future to find more about new professions and growth industries. 

  • Do a job search on LinkedIn or Seek. What skills do you have, which skills are missing? What can you start working on now?

  • If work culture is an important consideration, investigate company reputations. You can find a list of Australia’s best employers here

  • Tap into that social network—hit up friends who have their dream job or explore LinkedIn for potential networks. Most people (even your cousin’s friend of a friend) are happy to help with advice, and many will have more time on their hands right now. 

  • Listen to podcasts, read books, check out money diaries, absorb information. The more you know, the more certain you can be that you’re fully equipped to make the changes necessary.


Every career and every job has its perks and downsides. As part of the process, it’s important to consider the reality of your newly chosen career and potential hazards. 

“There can be risks with changing careers if you don’t do the research and planning beforehand,” O’Donohue says. “Don’t just leave without a plan. It is possible to transition into a different field, but it takes time and effort.”

It won’t be easy, but if the current global situation has shown us anything, it’s how capable we are at adapting and meeting challenges that are thrown our way. 

O’Donohue’s final advice is to be kind to yourself and “don’t overdo it.”

“While you can, take the time to just think about what you might really want to do with your life, however that may look. Start putting things on paper.  A few small steps at a time is so much easier than an entire overwhelming career change.”

Has your income been affected by coronavirus? Find out what you can do here.

Image Credit: CoWomen | Unsplash

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