Career Aspirations: Technologies to Help Workers Find Their Own Dream Job

Did you ever notice how young children have high career aspirations? They want to be professional athletes, singers, or even “professional YouTubers.” Yes, that’s really an aspiration for children today.

However, as they age, students begin to see or feel the reality of the world and move toward more realistic job aspirations: medical, business, engineering, etc.

These insights come from a randrr study of dream jobs from a student’s point of view, surveying more than 800 individuals to understand preferences and interests.

This is interesting from a workplace perspective because these students are going to be entering the workforce within the next few years. I would pretty confidently say that I’m doing my dream job currently as a researcher and writer, but I’d hazard to guess that my role isn’t in the top five dream jobs for most students. While we often lament about engagement (or a lack thereof) in the workplace, we don’t often consider the aspirations of individuals from a career perspective.

At the same time, we know that career development is one of the primary methods for engaging and retaining workers. When we combine this conversation about aspirations with Gallup data on how well college prepares people for the workplace, it clearly shows that there is a gap.

  • 96% of university leaders think their programs are effective at preparing students for the world of work
  • 14% of Americans think that college graduates are well-prepared for workplace success
  • 11% of business leaders think college graduates have the right business competencies

From a learning perspective, we can’t expect formal education to teach us everything we need to know, and that’s where on the job experience and training plays a critical part in filling those gaps. Growth opportunities. Skill development. These components make up the currency that workers need to succeed today.

The HR Technology Side of the Equation

Several technology providers have focused on the career pathing and career mobility market in the last few years, but one of the issues with some of those tools is that they only consider internal opportunities. This might not be an issue for employers with tens of thousands of employees, but the vast majority of firms have much smaller employee populations. If your company doesn’t have a job that fits your ultimate interests, then that path won’t be open to you.

That’s what intrigues me about the technologies that take a broader approach to skills from a market perspective, because they look at this question outside the walls of a single organization. Candidates can use these tools to learn about careers and opportunities across the job market, including how their skills fit into the big picture.

From an employer perspective, this kind of system can help to answer the question for both candidates and employees about what kinds of roles are available and what sort of skills are necessary to perform those jobs.

While students may get more realistic about their career prospects as they age, it’s likely that what they want to do most is not going to manifest itself in their first job, or even in their first few jobs, in some cases. Instead, they will learn over time what kinds of work they do and don’t enjoy, and their career path will take successively closer approximations to that “dream job,” however they define it.

Technologies that help workers to do this may ultimately help to solve some of the pervasive engagement problem that faces employers today, helping them to see a clear path toward the kinds of competencies and skills they want to build and the jobs that will leverage those capabilities, whether they exist today or not.