Job Search Tips Professional Development

The 3 Step Formula to Getting Your Dream Job

Written by Miranda Pennington

Want a simple formula to attracting your dream job? Ryan Niessen over at CareerRealism breaks it down like this:

Practical Value + Intrinsic Value = Total Perceived Value

What if your eligibility for the jobs you’ve always wanted to wasn’t based on how valuable you are in the marketplace, or how many jobs there are, or your past salary? What if it was all about “Perceived Value”? Let’s break down the terms even more.

1. Practical Value

What you do. Take the example of a car, which drives, parks, has air bags, etc. For you, practical value is the skills that you have, like coding or architecture or content management or publicity strategizing or grant-writing or proofreading like a champ. You can still take measures to increase your practical value, like taking a class or getting a certification. Those things are real, and they matter!

But! There’s also the subjective factor of your Intrinsic Value.

2.Intrinsic Value

How your prospective employers see you. To extend the car example, think of the difference between a Volvo and a BMW. They do the exact same things and have many of the same parts, but one is way fancier (and more expensive) than the other and functions as a status symbol. This is related to branding and perception, not to the actual practical worth of the car.

3. Total Perceived Value

So how do you position yourself as even more valuable than you are? To boost your Perceived Value, cultivate an image of yourself with the following qualities:

  • Exclusive
  • Rare
  • Different
  • Exciting
  • Original
  • Contrarian
  • Popular

Boast these qualities via your resume and cover letter, of course, but also show your employers you have the practical value they’re seeking and the intrinsic value that will make them look good for hiring:

  • Cultivate a poised, intelligent presence on LinkedIn and Facebook, and if possible, on your own website or blog.
  • Don’t let your blog be a parking lot for your contact info—post your take on articles related to your field, write recaps of networking events or conferences, and maintain a friendly, professional social media presence to support it.
  • “Authentically and confidently express yourself”—whenever you have the chance to take a stand on an issue, stand with it or against it thoughtfully and sincerely.

This is all all within your control, and will produce a more confident, capable you on the other side. What boss wouldn’t love that?

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.