From a young age, many people build up the idea of their "dream job" in their heads — and some strive for one their whole careers.
A dream job is the "culmination of dreams, sweat, sleepless nights, personal battles, reality checks and self-doubt," said Raf Howery, founder and CEO of Kukun, a home remodeling marketplace. "Landing a dream job means that I am on my way and I have one more step before I reach my end goal, where I will feel like I have 'arrived,'"
Although each person's path to his or her dream job is different, it almost always has at least three requirements: hard work, perseverance and luck, Howery said.
"You will have to take nightmare jobs to make ends meet, which is OK since that experience will reinforce your will to pursue your dream and change your situation," Howery said.
And although it may seem out of reach before you get it, landing your dream job doesn't have to be impossible. Here's what you can do to put yourself on the right track. [See Related Story: 10 Dream Jobs You Won't Believe Actually Exist]
Know exactly what you want
Robert Mann, marketing manager at online gaming site Nutaku, realized he wasn't happy in a former job situation.
"Seeing the long hours and atrophied social lives of the men and women in leadership positions made me dread the next promotion as much as I anticipated it," Mann said. "I'd always valued my free time and quickly realized that unless I could combine my career with my passions, I'd end up comfortable but unfulfilled."
You should make your career goals specific, said Kimberly Ramsawak, a travel career strategist and founder of Tourism Exposed. She said to narrow down the type of career niche, respective job function and title you want within a particular industry.
"This is important because hiring managers that are related to the job of your dreams will not hire someone who will 'take anything,'" Ramsawak said. "They want someone who is qualified, who truly wants the particular vacancy they're trying to fill. Remember, if you don't know what you want, you'll probably never get it."
Build your network
Realizing what you want is a major step, but you should keep the momentum going by reaching out to the right people who can help you, said Courtney Kirschbaum, a career and life coach and founder of online training company Original Experience.
"Once you find something you are enthusiastic about ... [start] talking to people in that world," Kirschbaum said. "Being in these communities and around [these] people, you'll learn the language, behaviors and idiosyncrasies that are particular to the profession or industry that interests you, which communicates to people you talk to that you've made an effort to learn their world."
Reach out to companies directly
The best way to reach a destination is by mapping out the directions to the end point, and the same principle applies to careers. Derek Szeto, CEO of jobs site Wirkn, said to find a fast-growing company whose mission you believe in and reach out to someone at the company directly.
"Tell them how you can help," Szeto said. "There is a whole layer of hidden job opportunities that never make it to a job posting. When a company is growing fast and staying busy, they might not even know they need you until you tell them."
When you get in touch, tell the hiring manager that this is the job of your dreams, advised Sarah Connors, principal staffing manager at WinterWyman Contract Staffing.
"If you act like this is just an interview or role like any other, the recruiter won't know how strongly you feel about the opportunity," she said. "Let them know why you're excited about this role, using specifics. Your energy will likely be infectious, and your reasons could make you stand out from the crowd."
Continue to work hard
Above all, you need to work hard while you're moving toward your dream job, Howery said.
"Hard work is everything — you have to work for your dream," he said. "It is not going to happen by just dreaming. Being tenacious and continuing to work hard for your dream is the only security you have."
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan (Helmrich). Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.