How Does Your Job Match up to a Dream Job?
Everyone dreams of having that perfect job. But what makes a job perfect?
Is it a job that challenges you but doesn’t stress you out? Is it being able to spend time with family and pursue passion projects? Is it more dreamy to have a high salary or flexibility?
Alas, compared to the daily reality of work, dream jobs remain elusive for many of us. According to a survey by MidAmerica Nazarene University, only 25 percent of Americans currently hold their dream job.
Here’s what that dream job really looks like, according to those survey results, compared with the reality of an average worker’s current office job.
What’s a Dream Salary?
The average office worker, with several years’ experience, earns about $86,720 per year. Yet, according to the survey, most employees aspire to earn much more in their dream job.
Male survey participants said they wanted to earn an average of $444,958 a year while female participants said they were looking for an average salary of $278,637. The gender difference between these dream salaries: a startling $166,321.
Analysis: Dream Salary
Although Roxy Fata, a content strategist who spearheaded the research at MidAmerica Nazarene University, says she expected male and female participants to list different ideal salaries, she wasn’t anticipating that big a gap between their salaries.
“As women, we are conditioned — even when we are dreaming big, when there is no limit — to ask for less,” she said.
Participants were told to write down how much money their dream job would pay them, then researchers tallied the answers and came up with an average salary for each gender, Fata says.
“It’s based on what people want," she said. "It's aspirational, not based on their current salary.”
What’s a Dream Professional Title?
Employees obsess over their job titles, and many covet the title of vice president and senior vice president. According to the survey, 12 percent would like a C-suite title, 23 percent prefer a mid-management title and 18 percent want an associates position.
Meanwhile, 41 percent of respondents said they’d prefer to own their business. However, most respondents also said they wouldn’t want to own their business if that meant having to work more than 60 hours a week.
Analysis: Dream Professional Title
It turns out that owning your own business might not be the dream job respondents are looking for.
According to the New York Enterprise Report, 33 percent of small-business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week and an additional 25 percent said they work more than 60 hours a week.
What Are the Dream Working Hours?
The average workweek is 44 hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 47 hours, according to Gallup.
Survey participants said their dream job would require them to work only 38 hours a week and would guarantee them a one-hour lunch break each day. Most said they prefer to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and to travel only twice a month for work.
What’s the Dream Paid Time Off?
The average American worker gets 15 days of paid leave after working five years at the same company, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
However, employees participating in the survey said their dream job would give them 52 paid days off a year. That’s slightly more than 10 weeks of vacation a year.
What’s the Dream Commute?
The average employee spends 25.4 minutes traveling to their office, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Yet survey participants dream of commuting to an office that is less than two miles from their home. In most places, that’s a commute that would almost certainly take less than 25.4 minutes.
What’s the Dream Industry to Work In?
According to this survey, it doesn’t matter where you currently live or what you currently do for a living — most participants said their dream job would allow them to live in California, working for the entertainment industry.
Employees working in administration, finance, hospitality and food, industrial, infrastructure, insurance, marketing and advertising, professional services, real estate and retail all said they want to work in entertainment.
However, those working in accounting, broadcast and journalism, construction, education, engineering, entertainment, government, healthcare, human resources, IT, legal, non-profit and social work, science, and skilled labor were happy working in their current industry.
Who Are the Dream Coworkers?
Colleagues can make or break your workday by either being helpful or annoying.
Despite a Gallup study that shows that everyone needs a best friend at work, a majority of survey participants said want to keep things professional with their colleagues and not become best friends.
What’s the Dream Company Size?
Working for a large company like Apple, Microsoft or Google isn’t everyone’s dream.
Survey participants said they wanted to work for a company with fewer than 30 employees.
What Are the Dream Office Perks?
Employees have come to expect their company will provide more than just healthcare and a 401(k) plan. Male and female survey participants agree that a 401(k) match is the most important perk but beyond that, men and women have different priorities regarding office perks.
The male participants want help paying their student loans, a gym membership, free office snacks and the ability to work remotely.
Female participants want the ability to work remotely, help paying their student loans, a flexible schedule and unlimited vacation time.
What Are the Dream Work Priorities?
The survey reveals that men and women have different top priorities when it comes to work.
For men, their number one priority is salary, followed by flexibility and creative freedom.
While women have the exact same goals, they rank their top priorities differently. Women want flexibility first, followed by creative freedom and a good salary.
What Makes for a Dream Manager?
Meanwhile, a separate survey by TINYpulse about employee retention finds that good managers may factor into an employee’s dream job as well.
Employees who rate their supervisor’s performance poorly are four times as likely to look for another job. Employees who feel under-appreciated at work also are more likely to look for another position.
According to the survey, 21.5 percent of employees who feel their work is not recognized have interviewed for a new job in the last three months.
What Are Dream Growth Opportunities?
Employees want to feel they can grow and be promoted at work. Employees who feel they are being promoted at work and given more responsibilities are 20 percent more likely to remain working at their companies in one year’s time, according to the TINYpulse survey.
In comparison, employees who don’t feel supported in their professional goals are three times more likely to be looking for a new position.