Introspection: The Key To Finding Your Dream Job

a man thinking about what he wants

For career changers, introspection and knowing oneself are key to choosing the right career path. Here are tips from Career Coach Julie Allen on knowing what you want from your next job.

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This article on using introspection to find your dream job is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.

The American Institute of Stress lists career changes as one of the top most stressful events in a person’s lifetime. Job hunting requires a degree of mental stamina and energy most adults are unprepared to navigate. That makes getting off on the right foot all the more important.

Experts on career change such as the authors of “What Color is Your Parachute?”, “Designing your Life” and “Putting Your Dream to the Test” all agree that knowledge of self is vital to making confident decisions about your career and life. 

However, one of the most common first steps that career changers overlook is taking the time to get to know themselves better and identify what they truly want in a new career before launching their job search.   

Doing some upfront work with getting grounded in who you are, where you are going, and what is important to you will help make this endeavor more meaningful, motivating, and less stressful in the long run.  

The Importance of Introspection

In my private practice as a Career Coach, many clients come to me because they don’t know what they want to do with their careers. They’ve never had the opportunity to do an introspection deep dive to understand who they are and how their life view overlaps with their career view. 

Understanding yourself better means unearthing your beliefs or examining your strengths and accomplishments and what makes you unique in the workforce through introspection. To communicate your value to employers you will need to be clear on who you are and what you have to offer. 

Doing things to increase self-awareness such as being curious about your passions and purpose in life and what fulfillment looks like, will help prevent you from going too far down the wrong road. 

For instance, I once had a Flatiron grad I was working with who came into the program thinking she wanted to be a Software Engineer but after diving deeper we discovered that her talents and interests we more conducive to project management. This came across as a big “aha” moment for her and she immediately started looking at jobs in this role. Within a few weeks, she landed a project manager role with Kroger. 

Getting Started With Introspection

Online Career Assessment

At one point or another, you may have taken a career assessment in high school or college. Although they may not provide a complete picture, these exercises offer clues as to what you may enjoy, your interest and skills, or your personality type. 

For those with no idea where to start, they can help to get your brain thinking about options. 

Here is a list of some of my favorite career assessments:  

  1. Identifying interests and potential careers: O*NET Interest Profiler
  2. Determine work values: 123test
  3. Skill Matching: CareerOneStop
  4. Strengths and Talents: CliftonStrengths Online Talent Assessment
  5. Self-awareness and other-awareness PrinciplesYou
  6. Several personality, career, reasoning, and value tests – All online tests available at


Another way to improve your self-awareness is through journaling. Do this by asking yourself key questions in an uninterrupted environment and writing your answers in a journal or word document. 

Think of questions such as:

  • What does meaningful work look like to me?
  • Which activities do I enjoy doing?
  • What types of activities or environments have I enjoyed the most?
  • How would I like my schedule to look?
  • Are there certain problems in the world that I would like to solve?

If you get stuck, try writing a stream of consciousness – you may be surprised what comes out when you’re not searching for the right answer!

Recruit Others For Help

Self-reflection does not have to be a solo activity. Talking to those who love you most about your personality and strengths can reveal strengths that you don’t associate with yourself internally. Perhaps you light up during a certain activity, or smile more in a particular environment – these are signs that others can point out to you.

When To Pause Introspection And Act

Take caution not to go too far down the rabbit hole of introspection and stay paralyzed in the thinking stage. One could spend a lifetime trying to uncover every nook and cranny of their personality, and in fact, many philosophers have. 

Eventually, you must take what you’ve learned about yourself and act!

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to act, here is a list of some helpful indicators that you are on a path to being a more self-aware person:

Indicators that you’ve developed sufficient self-knowledge:

  1. Awareness of some of your core beliefs and values and can write them in a list
  2. Can describe your personality to others and are working on your flaws
  3. Ability to express transferable strengths and skills in scenarios or following the STAR stories methodology
  4. Understanding what motivates you intrinsically and allowing these motivators to be your drivers
  5. Clarity of purpose or mission in life and how you want to positively impact the world
  6. You are accepting of yourself enough to feel comfortable stepping outside your comfort zone
  7. You prioritize your life by aligning your schedule with things that are important to you

Once you start to know yourself better, your confidence in decisions about your career will begin to bring your more internal peace. You will have a calm yet enthusiastic feeling about what you want to be and live an overall healthier life.  

At that point, you are ready – get out there and start heading toward the life you want! 

About Julie Allen

Julie Allen is a career coach with Flatiron School. She also has a private career coach business called The StoryMakers. Julie comes from 20 years as a manager in the tech industry helping corporate America achieve its goals. She is located in the Phoenix area, where she inspires young professionals to go after their dream jobs. Julie holds a BA in English and Psychology from Washington State University and an MBA from Golden Gate University.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is current as of March 2, 2023. Current policies, offerings, procedures, and programs may differ.

About Julie Allen

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