Dr. Paul Powers

on Finding Your Dream Job
Licensed psychologist, speaker and author

Favorite Cheer!

Exclusive Interview

Dr. Paul Powers on Dream Jobs

For more than 25 years, Paul Powers, Ed.D., has devoted his life to helping thousands—from CEOs to entry-level employees—achieve career success and satisfaction. A licensed psychologist, Powers is president of Powers & Co. Management Psychologists, which helps organizations facilitate the professional growth of employees at all levels. As a popular speaker and seminar leader, he shares his wisdom, humor and deepest belief that each of us has a gift to discover, develop and share. Powers is the author of Winning Job Interviews and co-author of Love Your Job!: Loving the Job You Have … Finding a Job You Love. Powers shares his thoughts about the first 30 days of finding your dream job.

What is a career plan?

A career plan is a relatively short document that outlines where you’ve been and currently are work-wise, the skills you possess, an ultimate dream job or occupation and a hypothetical series of interim steps—based on your ongoing research, reading, work experiences and networking—to get there. Regularly reviewing and refining this document helps keep you focused on where you want to go and how you plan to get there.

How can you learn about different kinds of jobs and what’s involved in that type of work?

Read, talk and watch. Read, especially about areas outside of your own realm of expertise. It’s important to read trade journals, professional publications, web sites, newsletters, the business pages of major newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, also the popular press and biographies of interesting people.

Talk by networking: Meet new people, learn what they do, ask lots of questions and find out how or if they enjoy their jobs. Join a couple of professional networking groups and become a volunteer; join a couple of service organizations and meet an even wider range of people.

Watch: Everybody criticizes television but there are some very stimulating shows, especially on cable, that show people in various careers that may be of interest, like pet care, hospitality, boating, history, archeology, auto mechanics, real estate, food service, home repair and tourism. This is a fun and entertaining way to get possible career ideas to research in more detail, as long as one doesn’t become a couch potato.

What are some ways to explore or try different dream jobs?

Learn as much about them as you can. Then, if it’s in a social service or not-for-profit setting, you can do some volunteering. If it’s in a corporate setting, try for an internship, a part-time job or a summer or seasonal fill-in job. If it’s a job within your current employer, network internally, join an interdepartmental task force or committee with those in your target area, try a job-share or get an internal transfer.

What are the important steps to prepare for a dream job interview?

Obviously I’d have to say, read Winning Job Interviews—a concise, engaging and practical guide to the job hunting and interviewing process. But, in short, prepare: Know as much about the job and the employer as you can; know your resume inside and out; know the answers to all the predictable interview questions; have a “fail safe” answer for questions you may not have prepared for; know how you’re going to get to the interview, do not rely on directions from the internet; know what you’re going to wear; know which references to give, if asked; know how to talk about money; know how to uncover hidden objections to your candidacy; know how to “close” the interview on a strong note; and know how you’re going to follow–up and when.

Practice all of these with a trusted friend or colleague.

What makes the difference for people who do get their dream job?

The most successful job or career changers I’ve worked with are those who were clear on their goals, which is not always an easy thing, and had an action plan before starting out.

What phases do people go through during this first month of finding their dream jobs?

High expectation and high energy; followed by mediocre to low response and mustering up one’s perseverance; then initial positive feedback starts to arrive. You feel relief and some dissatisfaction with the speed of the process.

What are the top mistakes people make in their quest for the dream job?

Vagueness about what “dream job” means for them at this point in their careers. Another mistake is talking too much about what they want and not listening enough to see if what is available or what they’re finding is close enough to “dream” for them or can be converted into “dream.”

What can we do to continue to progress after we’ve landed our dream jobs?

Remember that what makes for a dream job at this moment in time is that your skills and talents are balanced with the challenges and demands of your job. Savvy career self-management means realizing that any good job will evolve and its demands will grow and your skill base needs to grow and evolve, as well.


What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

Change is inevitable and often uncomfortable. But what makes it easier to live through is realizing that nothing disagreeable lasts forever and that having a positive attitude about it can make it easier, thus bringing it, to some degree, under one’s control.

The best thing about change is...

…the scenery changes; you learn new things and meet new people.

What is the best change you have ever made?

First and foremost, I had enough sense and good fortune 22 years ago to marry the nicest person I had ever met. I changed from being a happy bachelor to a happily married man.

A distant second was starting my own business or professional practice, so I could focus my energy on the things of most value to me: executive coaching, consultation, speaking and writing in order to facilitate the career and personal success of other folks. Thus, my “work” doesn’t feel like “work”—it’s just who I am and enjoy being.

For more information on Dr. Paul Powers, visit www.drpaulpowers.com.

Advice on Change

It’s either networking or not working. You need to put yourself out there. No one likes to look at a rookie. You need to be willing to open yourself up, it opens up more avenues to explore. Ask for help. Be genuinely curious about the people with whom you interact, realizing you have something to learn from every individual you meet. People who are socially extended later report higher degrees of satisfaction in their retirement life. Casting a wider net than you might ordinarily do.

Men think work must be taxing. It’s the career version of “no pain no gain.” We think work must leave us diminished in some way rather than a more balanced picture. Men don’t let themselves go for the bliss. We can seek bliss, we have the right to it. Loving one’s job means enjoying most of what we do on most of the days we do it. The anxious pit in your stomach on Thursday might be telling you that you need to make a change.

Manage your stress. A lot of men use athletics (sports, gym, workout) which is good if your stress is more physical, but if it’s more intellectual, reading or playing chess online for a little bit can help too. Just doing something to break the rhythm of what’s going on—getting up to talk to colleagues, telling a joke, anything to break the rhythm—but you don’t want to eliminate all stress. A certain amount of stress can be productive, but ratchet it back from edge of distress.

Your most rigorous opponent is yourself. Men often times use the sports model, but a constant competitive approach isn’t always the way to go. Think cooperatively. Be the person with whom other people want to work. Make an effort to be cheerful.
Being cheerful is making an effort to contributing a positive energy to the environment. Say hello to the receptionist, offer your subordinate a boost or an idea. Make an effort to reach out to people in some way.

Do your best to rise above office politics. Men can be cut throat in a couple of ways. A group of men will be together, and someone will decide to cut up somebody else. Women call it gossiping, but men call it cut throat. Individually, challenge the other person to come to your level. I know you don’t like this person, but you are better than that. Pat him on the back. Help him grow and change.

The roughest, toughest guys around you have the same fears you do. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is doing what you know is right in the face of that fear. We all have a sense of inadequacy, and the “imposter syndrome.” You have to tell yourself, “I have something valuable to give, fear won’t control me. I will control my fear.”

Winning Job Interviews: Reduce Interview Anxiety / Outprepare the Other Candidates / Land the Job You Love


Winning Job Interviews is packed with insider tips Dr. Paul has learned from over 20 years of working with job hunters, career changers, employment managers, outplacement specialists and executive recruiters. ...