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When your dream job falls short, how to find plan B

We're taught from a young age to go after our dream jobs. Study, plan, prepare, work hard and one day you'll reach your goal.

But what happens when reality doesn't live up to your dream?

If you're experiencing disillusionment with your own dream job, you're not alone. As your priorities change, it's natural that your idea of what constitutes the perfect job will too. Working at a tech start up with bean bag chairs and an endless supply of coconut water may have seemed like the end all in your twenties, but as you get older more vacation time and good health insurance for your family may take priority.

Regardless of what made you fall out of love with your dream job, these steps will help you bounce back and find your new passion:

Overcome disappointment

Letting go of a dream is tough. It's important to take time to recover emotionally after a career dream goes up in smoke. To help expedite that process, take time to reflect on what you've accomplished, everything you've learned and how much you've grown since you first started.

Just because you've decided this isn't your dream job doesn't mean the experience wasn't valuable.

Revamp your resume

After reflecting on how much you've grown, write it all down. Take the time to update your resume with all your experiences and accomplishments. You put in the work, you deserve to brag about it.

Consider what went wrong

To avoid making the same mistake at your new job, you have to figure out why your dream job fell flat. And boredom isn't an answer. Consider these five factors as a starting point: Opportunity for advancement, learning and development, compensation, company culture and work-life balance. Identify which areas didn't meet your needs and apply that filter to your new job search.

Do your homework

Take the time to understand what your skill sets and experience is worth in the current job market. Sign up for email alerts on job boards such as CareerBuilder to get an idea for what type of work is available. Doing so will allow you to benchmark your current role, career outlook and company culture against the rest of the industry.

Don't jump ship too quickly

Making sudden, rash career changes is never a good idea. Instead of taking the first new job that comes along, pick a favorite skill set and look for opportunities in your current role to build up that area of expertise. For example, if you enjoy social media and are considering making a move into a digital marketing role, volunteer for social media projects to build your portfolio. Just because you aren't happy at this job doesn't mean you can't use it to boost your own clout.

Remember, it's often better to stay 12 to 18 months at a position to show stability. So unless you are miserable at your current job, hang in there and prepare yourself to make a positive step forward.

Check out the five tough questions you should ask before making a career change.

Advice on your dream job and cover letter:

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