We’re constantly telling people to “follow their dreams” or “find their passions,” but we also understand that this might sound easier than it is.

So, we want to make this journey more tangible for you—and we know just who you should listen to.

We’ve collected the 10 best stories from real, live people on how they stumbled upon, applied for, and landed their dream jobs. Plus, some tips they have for ending up in the perfect gig—just like them!

1. I Defined What I Wanted in a Job and Landed One That Doesn’t Feel Like Work

Try your hardest to define what exactly you’re looking for. Very often I find myself asking my friends who are not completely happy with their current job what they ultimately want in their career, and many of them say they have no idea. Don’t be one of those people! Do research, find out where you want to go, and form a plan with digestible steps that can help move you toward your goals.

—Hark Verbicar, Software Engineer at VideoBlocks

2. I Took a Leap and Landed a Job I Love in a Totally Different Field

Don’t be afraid to explore opportunities outside of your current field. Instead of thinking that you aren’t qualified for something, think about what excites you. Once you start to find more opportunities, tailor your resume and cover letter in a way that leverages your experiences and strengths into making you an ideal fit for the new company. Finally, even though the job hunt can be draining, try your best not to get defeated, because ultimately, you want to make sure to take your time to find something that truly fits you.

—Yasmin Matthew, Sales Development Representative at TrackMaven

3. I Used Social Media to Score My Dream Job

With every job, there are going to be things you have to do that you don’t like doing. I’d like to think that if 75% of your work is gratifying, the other 25% will go unnoticed. But if the scale works out much differently, and you don’t like what you’re doing overall, do something different! You spend so much time and energy at work. Let yourself put that time and energy toward work that makes you happy.

—Madison Snider, Digital Content Producer at Spherical

4. I Built My Network to Find a Company Where Everyone Cares for Each Other

Have as many conversations as you can! You should build a network that allows you to become exposed to as many companies, business leaders, and potential opportunities as possible. You won’t land your next ideal job by just sitting on your hands, so pick up the phone and call someone, and never say no to a meeting—you never know where it might end up landing you!

—Adrian Brady-Cesana, City Manager at Hometeam

5. I Aligned My Passions With the Company’s and Landed a Job That Matched My Skills and Interests Perfectly

I would suggest being active on your favorite companies’ social media pages, and networking with current employees who work there. Don’t be scared to ask for an informational interview from an existing employee—getting a referral is very effective in getting your foot in the door. Also, be direct with your pitch or personal summary, i.e., what you’re looking for in your career or role, on social media or in an informational interview so employers understand exactly how you’d be a great fit.

—Rahul Patle, UX Engineer at Riviera

6. I Wasn’t Afraid to Ask Questions and Landed a Weird and Wonderful Job

Ask questions always, but not necessarily ones with yes or no answers. Instead, ask open-ended questions, as they can inspire more informative and engaging conversations. By digging deeper into the way a person or a company is doing things and why they are doing it that way, you can begin to paint a picture of an opportunity and how you may be able to factor into it. If that picture looks intriguing, or beautiful, or attractively chaotic, you’ve got a lead.

—Brittany Hanson, People and Environment Coordinator at Method

7. I Was Brave and Found My Dream Job in a New City

If you want a job like mine, you need to be brave to do things in your own creative way. I was a ball of nerves through the whole interview process, but I wanted to make a lasting impression. So after my final interview, when I met with my teammate, my manager, a team director, and my VP, I wrote them all cards thanking them for their time and referencing something specific we talked about. I had never done that before, so when I came back up to deliver the cards, I was so worried that I would run into one of them. The receptionist took the cards with a big smile on her face and said she would put in a good word for me. I felt so brave!

—SJ McMillan, Onboarding and Learning Specialist at Ultimate Software

8. I Applied to a Role That Didn’t Exist and Landed My Dream Job

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend everyone do this, but when I applied to Persado they actually didn’t have my role open online. But since I was really interested in the company, I applied for a lower level job so I could get my resume in front of them. It worked out! But I think the best advice for anyone is to broaden your search initially. Then, as you progress in the interview process and start to learn more about the companies that are interviewing you, you can start to narrow down the ones you don’t want. You will find what’s right for you!

—Sabrina Grissom, Recruiter at Persado

9. I Stepped Outside My Comfort Zone and Landed a Job That Inspires Me Every Day

Step outside of your comfort zone and look at profiles of companies you’ve never heard of before. Talk to friends and friends of friends who work at places where you could see yourself developing and thriving, and ask them what their day-to-day looks like. Submit your resume and cover letter to places that you’re not 100% sure about, or maybe not even 70% sure about—it never hurts to meet people and learn about how different companies are growing.

—Ting-Ting Zhou, Operations and Borrower Success Manager at CommonBond

10. I Combined My Different Passions and Experiences Into a Dream Job

Find out what you would like to do, and don’t be afraid to combine interests. I’ve had jobs in various fields, and lots of interests. This can seem like I’m all over the place, but I decided not to limit myself and searched for jobs that would combine my passions as well as a company that would be a fun, dynamic, and stable place to work.

—Rebecca Mills Shenkman, Sales Associate at Schoology

Photo of person reading courtesy of Dougal Waters/Getty Images.

Updated 6/19/2020