When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
According to new data from professional social network LinkedIn, if you're male you likely wanted to be a professional athlete or pilot; if you're female you probably wanted to be either a teacher or veterinarian.
LinkedIn surveyed more than 8,000 professionals globally to find out the most common childhood career aspirations and how many respondents currently have their dream job.
According to the results, the top childhood dream jobs for men in the United States were the following:
Professional or Olympic athlete (8.2 percent)
Airplane or helicopter pilot (6.8 percent)
Scientist (6.8 percent)
Lawyer (5.9 percent)
Astronaut (5 percent)
For women, the top childhood dream jobs were these:
Teacher (11.4 percent)
Veterinarian (9 percent)
Writer, journalist or novelist (8.1 percent)
Doctor, nurse or emergency medical technician (7.1 percent)
Singer (7.1 percent)
"The dream jobs we aspire to as children are a window into our passions and talents," says Nicole Williams, connection director at LinkedIn. "Identifying and understanding those passions are key to improving our performance and enjoyment of the jobs we currently do even if they aren't specific to the careers we dreamed of as kids."
According to LinkedIn's report, nearly one in three respondents say they either currently have their childhood dream job or work in an related field.
But for those who don't, respondents were most likely to cite becoming interested in a different career path when they got older as the primary reason for working in an unrelated field (44 percent). Respondents also said that their dream job was too difficult or expensive to pursue (15 percent) or they chose a more profitable job instead (13 percent).
"If your childhood fantasy was to become a professional swimmer or an Olympic athlete, chances are you may need to have a backup plan," Williams says. "However, if you think about what it is that you love about competitioneither in the pool or on dry landyou might find exactly what you're looking for in the career your already have," she says.
As an adult, professionals chose what they valued most in a dream job: The top result was taking pleasure in your work, followed by helping others, a flexible work schedule, a high salary and prestige or power.
If your dream job is within reach and you need an extra boost, here's a look at three ways you can use LinkedIn to help you achieve your dream job as an adult.
1. Do your homework. "Make a list of people who are working in your dream career and then hit up their LinkedIn profiles to see their trajectory," Williams says. Check out their skills and see if there are related volunteer opportunities that you can add to your career repertoire, she says.
2. Connect with them. "The quickest way into your dream career is to connect with them ASAP," Williams says. "Odds are they'll be happy to help you out. People who are working in their dream careers generally love what they do and are delighted to talk about it."
3. Unveil a dream job you've had. "If you've had a dream careerand remember that it may be someone elses' dream job even if it isn't yoursmake sure to add it to your profile," Williams suggests. Did you join the circus to pay for college or start your career as a quarterback before becoming a businessman? Include it. The career experiences you've had make you unique and they may be the very things that differentiate you from your competition.
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