For Millions, A Dream Job Means Having One: #TChat Recap

I love this Dairy Queen commercial:

“We don’t just blow bubbles — we blow bubbles with kittens inside them.”

Brilliant. There’s my dream job. No, make that two dream jobs. One, blowing bubbles with kittens inside them, and two, writing such funny and memorable commercials.

Right on. Absolutely mint.

“Because at Dairy Queen, good isn’t good enough.”

And that’s the rub of the proverbial dream job. The unfortunate fact is that for over half of us, bad dreams are only what’s good enough for now. Consider this from a recent TLNT post titled Survey: Half of Employees Want to Leave or Have Checked Out on the Job:

“Mercer, the global HR consulting firm, just released the results of its new What’s Working survey, conducted over the past two quarters among nearly 30,000 workers in 17 countries, including 2,400 workers in the U.S. It found that nearly a third (32 percent ) of American workers are seriously considering leaving their organization at the present time, up sharply from 23 percent in 2005.

As bad as that sounds, another 21 percent of workers say they are not necessarily looking to leave but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement, meaning that when you combine the two, more than half of all employees (53 percent) are either looking to leave for a new job or have mentally checked out of their old one.”

53 percent are either looking to leave for a new job or have mentally checked out of their old one. So much for bubbles with kittens in them. Dreams jobs are highly subjective and even if there are universals to them — good money and benefits, family flexibility, guaranteed promotion and success, ample vacation time, constant managerial and collegial support, philanthropic niceties, hugs and kisses (strictly platonic of course) — the believe in them, all of which are intertwined with the great American dream, sets us up for failure early in most of our careers.

I don’t disparage working Dairy Queen; I’ve worked at a few fast food establishments in my past. And although working the grill wasn’t my dream job, I’m sure it’s had the semblance of one for a rehabilitated ex-con, or someone in drug or alcohol recovery, or a physically or mentally challenged individual excited to be making their own money, or simply a struggling mother or father in and out of work just trying to provide for their hungry families.

Again, I’m not making fun of it. One man’s dream job means another man’s checked out of his.

In the world of work, not everyone wins a trophy for having the coolest and highest paying job. Instead, if we get to know thyself by doing and failing and doing and failing and doing and learning and maybe succeeding, we create our own trophies displayed on our desks at work and at home. We’ve been mentored and we pay it forward by mentoring.

But for millions today, a dream job means having a job, any job, in order to provide for family and loved ones. Here’s to bubbles with kittens in them.

Here’s the #TChat preview from @MonsterCareers and Charles Purdy titled Dream Job or Pipe Dream: Are Dream Jobs A Reality?, and here are last night’s questions:

  • Q1: Some elements of “dream jobs” are universal (like pay). What are some of your personal/unique elements?
  • Q2: Do you think the idea of “dream jobs” is good or bad for job seekers – does it encourage or discourage them?
  • Q3: A first step to finding a dream job is defining that term. What are your self-assessment tips?
  • Q4: How much of the responsibility for creating “dream jobs” is the employer’s, company’s, or boss’s?
  • Q5: How does one’s conception of a “dream job” change or effect career decisions?
  • Q6: Finally: do dream jobs really exist?  If not, what’s the reality?

Don’t forget, #TChat Radio starts next Tuesday, July 26. Explanatory post coming soon…

Are Dream Jobs A Reality? #TChat Preview

Originally posted by Charles Purdy, one of #TChat’s moderators, on MonsterThinking Blog

The term “dream job” means different things to each of us — and for many job seekers right now, a dream job would be any job.

But when most people talk about their dream job, they’re talking about the elusive position that engages their passions and interests, is well suited to their skills, challenges their intellect (but isn’t too challenging), and integrates well into their life.

In our dream jobs, our bosses are wise mentors who recognize our unique brilliance. Our coworkers are competent and witty. And our paychecks are … at least decent (in study after study, salary is a surprisingly minor factor in career or job satisfaction).

The question is whether we should hold out for our dream jobs, or simply settle for the job that’s good enough. Is it wise to settle into a job that, say, pays well but doesn’t engage your creativity in the way you’d like?

Scores upon scores of self-help authors say that perfection can be achieved in a career — but that just isn’t the reality most of us live in. Who’s right? And if dream jobs really are possible, for all of us, how do we go out and get them?

We’ll be exploring these questions, and their implications for the evolving world of work, in tonight’s #TChat: “Dream Job or Pipe Dream: Are Dream Jobs A Reality?”

Join moderator Charles Purdy (Twitter: @monstercareers), Monster’s career advice and job search expert along with #TChat co-hosts @meghanmbiro @kevinwgrossman @monster_works and @focus tonight on Twitter at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT and let us know: are dream jobs a reality?

#TChat Questions and Recommended Reading (07.19.11)

To help prepare, and inform, your participation in tonight’s conversation (or even if you can’t make it), here are the questions we’ll be discussing, along with some recommended reading designed to give you background – and perspective – on dream jobs and how they fit into the larger picture of job search, career planning and talent acquisition.

Q1. Some elements of “dream jobs” are universal (like pay). What are some of your personal/unique elements?

Read: Six Tips for Landing Your Dream Job by Alexandra Levit

Q2. Do you think the idea of “dream jobs” is good or bad for job seekers – does it encourage or discourage them?

Read: How to Get the Job You Really Want by John Sumser

Q3. A first step to finding a dream job is defining that term. What are your self-assessment tips?

Read: Making Sure Your Next Job Is the Best Fit by Caroline M.L. Potter

Q4. How much of the responsibility for creating “dream jobs” is the employer’s, company’s, or boss’s?

Read: Use Company Culture To Attract and Retain Candidates by Dr. Steven Hunt

Q5.  How does one’s conception of a “dream job” change or effect career decisions?

Read: Cool Jobs: 10 Interesting Jobs & Their Average Salaries by Dona DeZube

Q6. Finally: do dream jobs really exist?  If not, what’s the reality?

Read:Your Dream Job is Out There by Charles Purdy

Visit for more great information on #TChat, as well as other great resources on careers and hiring.

As a partner in #TChat, Monster’s social media team supports #TChat’s mission of sharing “ideas to help your business and your career accelerate — the right people, the right ideas, at the right time.”

Channel Your Inner Madonna to Trigger a Career Shift

(Editor’s Note: All of us in the TalentCulture community mourn the loss of our dear friend, brilliant colleague and mindful mentor, Judy Martin, who passed away unexpectedly on January 31, 2014. Her message and her life are a lesson for us all. We will forever fondly remember her humor, warmth and wisdom.)

Emboldened with new courage to brave the unknown and strive for greatness, I cut the neck and sleeves of my Madonna t-shirt last night. This was no small task. It’s been sitting in my dresser drawer for 6 years. Seriously, I’m not kidding. Every time I opened that draw to grab my yoga clothing, it’s been staring me in the face. That is until tonight.

I took the plunge and cut the darn thing so I could finally wear it (I should have gotten a large) and it was the most liberating action I’ve taken in years. The cutting of the shirt was a great metaphor I came to realize, for breaking a barrier that was literally keeping me from making some important career and creative business decisions.

Sometimes we have to just do something radically different in our daily lives, even if it means getting out of our comfort zone. Madonna in general is the icon of re-invention, she has taken many risks. She has known success and failure. But she constantly refuels, renews and reinvents her life and career. So channeling YOUR inner Madonna might also be a tactic to try something outrageously new and different. What shift are you avoiding, and if you made the plunge what would you learn? I asked myself that question.

Cutting the Madonna T-Shirt and the Lessons Learned

Cutting the shirt brought up all kinds of inner stuff about taking risks in my career, doing something off the beaten path in my work life trajectory, and forced me to move forward even in the face of certain trial and error. I did succeed (in cutting the shirt and other goals as you will discover at the end of this post), but I had to deconstruct and contemplate first. (If you’re a Madonna freakazoid like I have been most of my life, you’ll better understand what appears to be a ridiculous act.)

I bought this t-shirt at Madison Square Garden during Madonna’s 2004 Re-Invention Tour, but I never wore it because:

  • 1. It was too tight around the neck, and I was afraid to stretch it. Where can you stretch your life or career? Are you procrastinating, feel you’re not up to the task, or just not making the time to do it?
  • 2. I refused to cut it, because I didn’t want to ruin it, as it might shred. What are you afraid of? What will you ruin if you take a risk and try something new, like learning a new skill? Will extra work be involved and will follow-through require more of a commitment to personal or career growth?
  • 3. The wording on the back says, “Everyone is a star” So I thought people would judge me if I wore it. Do you really care what others will think if you decide to pick up ballet classes even though you’re a klutz? Are you concerned about going back to school for a new career in a recovering economy?
  • 4. I was saving it for a special occasion. Really? When’s your boat going to come in? Life is too short in this body anyway. I suggest taking the lead from  “Nike” – just do it!

Change Something, Reinvent Something, Remember Something Joyful

Even if you are not thrilled with your job, you can create some unusual aberration to change up the pace or the structure of your job, the way you spend your time, the way you organize your day, the way you relate to your co-workers, or even your boss. You can take a risk, learn a new skill, make a new creative suggestion. Maybe there’s something in your job or career from the past that has given you lots of joy. Igniting passion in your work calls for nothing less than the re-invention of your work or life perception, even in a job that you disdain. Even for just one day. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover. It might be the shift you need just to get through another day.

For example, at my personal blog, I decided to do something completely different than I had ever done before. I  just started Sanctum Sundays of Work Life Bliss. It’s a portal of information that can help you to just stop, contemplate your life, engage your belief system and also catch up on some inspirational work life news. I also decided to deepen my yoga practice by committing to a new training. The decision to take those leaps emerged as I was contemplating cutting the t-shirt. It was just time to cut the sh–.

For those of you who can just imagine what a better place the world would be if we just embraced our greatness. A taste of Madonna from her 2004 Reinvention Tour!

Photo: Christina @

8 Secrets to Getting Informational Interviews

Informational interviews have a number of things going against them. They sound boring, ineffective and most importantly are hard to get. However, in reality, they aren’t hard to get at all and, if leveraged effectively, will increase your chances of finding and being considered for jobs, especially the “hidden” ones.

Unfortunately, many job seekers fail to request the interviews properly and as a result, actually turn off or lose the “interviewee” altogether. Here are eight secrets for effectively requesting and successfully getting informational interviews:

1. Email, don’t call. Emailing or sending a message via LinkedIn allows the recipient to choose to respond at their own leisure and doesn’t interrupt their schedule.

2. Make GRAMMAR your new best friend. I know we all use spell-check nowadays, but honestly, proofread anything and everything you write to any professional. It doesn’t matter how well they write, they have a job and you don’t yet, so make sure everything from punctuation to capitalization is perfect. If possible, ask someone else you trust to read your outgoing messages to these professionals just for outside perspective. This is especially important if English is not your first language.

3. Hook them with your subject line. No matter how you know the person you want to contact, the subject of your message has to be personal and direct to catch their attention and move them to read it. If you don’t know the person, consider using “John – Question from a Student” or “John – Request for Informational Interview.” If you do know them, I recommend “John – Request from Chris Perry” or if you don’t know them personally, but went to the same college or have something in common, I recommend something along the lines of “John – Request from a W&M Student.”

4. Briefly introduce yourself. In a short first paragraph, state your name, who you are and what you are doing. Remember, busy people don’t have time to read long messages. Keep it short, sweet and to the point.

5. Command the common ground. If someone who knows them has referred you or you have something significant in common with the person (i.e. college, professional organization), make sure to include this at the end of your first paragraph or at the beginning of your second. A stronger connection or link between you both can only help you get the interview.

6. They know you want a job, so don’t ask for one! In your next paragraph, this is where you make the direct request for the informational interview; however, DON’T ask them upfront for help to get you a job in their company, as they already know you’re interested in opportunities in their company or you wouldn’t be contacting them. I recommend you make it more about them and ask them for the opportunity to speak about THEIR career, how THEY got involved in it, THEIR company and/or its culture.

7. NEVER send your resume to them with your initial request. This looks presumptuous and inconsiderate and your resume just implies that you expect them to take time to look at it and more time to send it to the right person BEFORE they have even had a chance to “yes” or “no” to your request. If you are emailing them, include a link to your LinkedIn profile in your signature, and if you are sending a message via LinkedIn, there is no need, as you are already on that network. Let them be the one that request more information from you.

8. Don’t Forget Your Contact Info. Make sure to have a professional email/message signature with all possible methods of contact listed. This way, you look good, but they can also get in touch with you in whatever way they prefer. You might even tastefully include a link to your LinkedIn profile, personal website or other supporting media online. This is more appropriate than a resume, because it offers them the option of seeking more info about you.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

Creating an Interactive Personal Brand

More and more people are talking about the importance of personal branding both in your career search and in your career development. Effective personal branding not only makes you stand out from the crowd to employers and recruiters; it can also increase your job security by communicating your value as a leader and team player to your organization.

What is personal branding?

Personal branding is the process of identifying the unique and differentiating value that you can bring to an organization, team and/or project, and communicating it in a professionally memorable and consistent manner in all of your actions and outputs, both online and offline, to all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.

Everyone has a unique personal brand. You communicate your own brand in everything you do — whether you know it or not. It is important to remember that personal branding is so much more than what you put on your social networks or what you write on a blog.

It’s who you are inside and out, online AND offline. Your personal brand is your reputation.

How do you create your personal brand?

1)     Write down your differentiating strengths (those you feel make you stand out from the rest)

2)     Ask your friends, family and colleagues/managers to do the same

3)     Identify the top 3 to 5 strengths that you feel will support the career direction you want to pursue

4)     Create/find a word or phrase that can become your personal brand and that represents these strengths

5)     Develop a short pitch that can follow your brand, describing your strengths in more detail

Note: Ensure that your word or phrase is versatile and can change with your direction

How do you build your personal brand?

There are many ways that you can build and communicate your personal brand both online and in-person; however, to get you started, here are some topline recommendations for establishing your brand and credibility in today’s career marketplace:

Get active and get visible online and offline: If no one meets you or sees you, it won’t matter how strong your personal brand is.  Therefore, it is essential that you get your name and yourself in front of your target network.  Here are some ways to increase your visibility:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile and follow the suggested steps to complete your profile 100%, making sure you include your personal brand and pitch in your subtitle and summary sections
  • Create a Google account and profile for improved search engine optimization
  • Include your personal brand on your resume, cover letter, business cards, email signature, voicemail message and across your other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Consider creating a personal website or blog site where you can house all of your information, including experience, education, skills, honors, entrepreneurial efforts and more
  • Join associations or networking groups within your industry and try attending their events to meet new contacts and build your target network.  Be sure to share your personal brand with those new contacts you meet
  • Conduct informational interviews with target network contacts (whether or not you’re seeking a job) and share your personal brand with them in your introductions

Contribute consistent value: Make sure that everything you contribute is valuable to those with whom you share it and also relevant to and supportive of your personal brand.  Consistency is critical, for the more consistent all of your own marketing efforts are both online and offline, the more powerful and memorable your personal brand impression will be on all current and prospective stakeholders in your career.  Here are some ways you start contributing value:

  • Book or product reviews
  • Tweets
  • Comments on other blog posts
  • Blog articles or articles for print publications
  • Discussions in LinkedIn Groups or in other forums
  • Advice via LinkedIn Answers and other forums

Become a thought leader: As you grow the quantity, quality and uniqueness of your contributions, you may be increasingly considered as an industry thought leader.  Here are some ways to support and even expedite your rise to thought leadership:

  • Start your own blog with a unique POV on your industry/area of interest
  • Found a company with relevant and valuable products/services/resources for the industry
  • Publish and offer print and/or electronic publications
  • Get quoted in the media by joining HARO and contributing advice, experiences and insights to writers and journalists seeking expert sources
  • Find ways to bring fellow industry thought leaders together on a project or at an event
  • Find ways to contribute to the projects or events of fellow industry experts
  • Get recommended on LinkedIn and any other networks where you or your offerings are available and/or collect and display testimonials from customers, clients and partners

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.

Birth of a Brand

When I started the career search process during the second year of my MBA program, I encountered a serious challenge.  Having multiple talents, strengths and potential career paths, I was faced with the daunting task of having to identify and communicate my value in a single word.

It was thanks to a class visit by Frank Lane, Brand Entrepreneur and Author of Killer Brands, that I learned how  to formally brand myself.  At the end of his talk, he asked us to participate in an exercise that he thought might help us in our ongoing job search efforts.  The exercise involved writing down our top 3 to 5 strengths and then identifying a word or phrase that tied them together and could become our personal brand.  I listed my strengths as energy, creativity, problem-solving and relationship-building.  The only word that I could think of that could tie them all together was “generator,” for I generate lots of energy, I generate creative ideas and solutions, and I generate strong relationships so to build durable, cohesive and productive teams.  Thus, my personal brand was born.

I quickly and consistently incorporated my personal brand in all of my career search outputs, including my resume, my cover letter, my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, my emails and anything else that I thought might meet the eyes of a potential employer or career stakeholder.

Furthermore, I reached out through my professional network and through LinkedIn for informational interviews and shared my personal brand and supporting pitch with them in our conversations.  One such conversation led to an onsite interview where I also shared my personal brand as the answer to the question, “Why should we pick you over all of these other top candidates?” My personal brand gave the interviewer something that he clearly remembered as he mentioned it to me later that day.  While there are many factors that may have contributed to my resulting offer, I believe it was my ability to consistently communicate my value in one memorable brand that assisted me in successfully achieving my current employment.

It was also through my own personal brand-building and development efforts that I discovered how much I enjoy helping others create and communicate their own personal brands, both in their job searches and beyond.

I cannot tell you what an honor it is to have been asked to become a strategic partner and contributing member of the TalentCulture community.  In alignment with my personal brand, one of my objectives with Career Rocketeer has been to generate relationships with the industry’s top experts and bring them together into one common forum where we can all share our experiences, advice and insight with others.  It is exciting to see that TalentCulture is another community with a similar mission.  I look forward to serving this community in any way that I can.

Chris Perry, MBA is a Gen Y brand and marketing generator, a career search and personal branding expert and the founder of Career Rocketeer, Launchpad, Blogaristo and more.