The well-known, personal-finance and career guru Ramit Sethi recently overhauled his entire Dream Job online course.
Since this is a course that I have reviewed and still remains one of my most expensive course purchases, I wanted to discuss the new version after going through it.
As a refresher, the course promises to offer a framework for finding and obtaining your dream job. It’s a bold claim, but it offers a more concrete, tangible process than most alternative methods. And there’s a good amount of case studies of people who have gone through it to shift to another industry, dramatically raise their income over a few years, or find a job that fits the lifestyle they desire.
It’s not a magic pill that requires no work. You have to put in a lot of work to follow the system, and my suspicion is that a good portion of people by the course and never even do most action steps mentioned. But I’m an action taker.
It’s also not a cheap course. We’re talking four figures.
First off, I was very excited that he did this. It seems that he not only updated all the videos with new footage, but also redesigned the webpage design and tweaked parts of the process to make it work better.
Since I want this to be a transparent, honest review, I want to emphasize that as of this moment of writing this, I have no affiliation financially with the company that sells this course. I’m not part of their affiliate program or sponsorship.
Areas of Improvement
One thing I found tough when I took the first version of the course a few years ago’s remains tough with this course. And that is the work I need to put in to get a response and build a relationship with a professional I’m after. Part of the course’s process involves reaching out to people who are part of the companies you want or have the job titles that you want. Even while using the script provided and doing things like having gone to the same university, it’s tough to get a response. I have found that I have to send more cold messages out to people on LinkedIn and elsewhere than the course made me believe to get a response.
Keep in mind that online course completion rates are low. It’s crazy to realize people don’t finish something they pay for, but it’s true. You need a certain X factor to put in the work to finish the course. (And I’m glad to say I do finish courses.)
Since this isn’t my first time doing this, I kind of expected it and went into it knowing that I would have to reach out to more people. Sometimes, I add more personalization or tweak the script to improve the response. I found that doing a lot of research on things that this person has said or posted about can help me make my outreach more personalized.
The course emphasizes that you’re not trying to ask them for a job when you network or get them on the phone. Your goal is to show that you’re informed about the job and company and prepared and to learn more about the industry or job role. The intention here is to form genuine relationships and along the way, they will naturally give you suggestions or even offer to refer your resume to the proper hiring manager. The idea here is that you will naturally show your expertise in preparation during the chat, and the rest should come from at the most, a soft ask about what the next steps are in a follow-up message.
However, I found that, even using the scripts provided when you’re with that person, it doesn’t usually lead to a referral. They just answer your questions and depart. It does lead to a referral naturally on occasion, but once again, the percentage that it does is much lower than expected. Sometimes, the sentiment is warm and you get the sense that they still feel it’s transactional. That said, part of it’s my fault. I could do a better job demonstrating my skills in that moment. The course doesn’t lay that out well, so I had to pick apart what was going wrong and focus more on presenting myself better as a candidate casually.
The scripts provided tell you to offer the option of sending 3 to 5 questions via email or messenger instead of jumping on a call. Unfortunately, more people than I’d like to take this option, probably because they’re busy. Obviously, you can’t build a relationship well this way. But it’s something. Focus on the phone or virtual hang; it’s worth five text conversations.
Take this one example: I reached out to one senior member of the I will teach you to be rich team through this process to truly build a genuine relationship and learn about the company. I got the sense that the person was busy since he requested me to just send the questions rather than schedule a call. He answered my questions and then I told him I keep him posted, late on how thankful I was for his answer, and told him if there’s anything I can do for him, let me know, as instructed. I got a thumbs up emoji response, and felt like the end result was a lot more transactional than I like even though I followed the formula to a tee. It was really frustrating since the program tells me the trust the system and I like to follow the directions. I ended up going off script and telling him that I really wanted to form a genuine relationship and didn’t want to come off transactional, and I apologize if it did, but I was just following the scripts provided.
I honestly don’t think he would respond in the first place if I hadn’t included a personalized first line that really spoke about his career journey over the years. It’s not something the program tells me to include, but based on my experience with code emails, I think it helps.
Another part of the course that gets to me is that there is a implicit understanding that the course takers are or will become high performers, the top 10% or 1% of talent. While I still think this course can be useful to most people, there are areas where I don’t know if the advice was completely applicable because it was based on assuming that you were a high performer. For example, one of the common points you can bring up during the salary negotiation is how you regard yourself as a top performer and pointing to evidence of this. I think there are plenty of good people who try their hardest but are never really seen as part of that top echelon of workers. This might cause anxiety or just the idea that they can’t use some of the material here.
The course also offers a link to a LinkedIn group that students can connect and help each other in. Unfortunately, it’s dead. Although it has over 10,000 members, you may see one post every two weeks at most and little to no responses. I feel this had the potential of being a very valuable resource where students could help uplift each other. I’ve seen many successful Facebook groups that have a ton of engagement and a ton of fellow members who are on their journey to success or have helped each other. Unfortunately, I think part of the issue is that it’s on LinkedIn. People aren’t as active there as they are on Facebook. Also, part of it is that people probably just stop worrying or thinking about career development once they find the job they want. I don’t think that’s a large part of the problem because I think there should still be enough people who actively engage and care about continuing their career to keep a conversation going and stay active even once they’ve finished the course and got what they want. There is an old man made private Facebook group for course members, but it only has 100 members. It’s already a bit more active than the LinkedIn.
Along those lines, I would encourage you to not make the mistake that most other students and I have made, which is to let their career development through networking and similar channels taper off or go to zero after finishing the course. The course hints that you should always keep your relationships maintained and fresh, but there’s no module on this. I deftly kept that in mind and tried to keep on conversations going with people who have helped me on LinkedIn. But it deftly wasn’t as frequent or as quality as I should’ve. By maintaining these relationships, they can help you further along and it makes it feel less transactional and like you’re one of those people who asked for help and disappears. I will say I do my better than most but I could do much better.
Also, as I’ve taken the revamped version, it’s become more clear to me that networking and knowing the right people is so important as well as having a consistent pulse on the industry and the job openings out there.
You should be maintaining some minimal level of relationships and forming new ones to learn from established people in the industry, even when you get a job. You should always keep an eye out on job offers and dream companies that catch your eyes so that when an ideal opening occurs you don’t miss it.
Unfortunately, I don’t think most people do this. Instead, they use job boards or they take whatever opportunities are in front of them that recruiters come to them for, which usually means that they will shift into a company that they like but don’t love that’s usually local and may be a tiny step up in terms of salary or job satisfaction.
In fact, one of the people I reached out to works at a major tech entertainment company gave the impression to me as if this was the first time anyone has done this and was confused why I was reaching out. It seemed like he had never really network naturally with anyone himself. I found out that he had got his job by applying through the front door via job opening online. Even people working at ‘top’ companies have some room to improve. And that’s a major advantage. A lot of the top performers that I did talk to revealed that knowing the right person and reaching out to them and connecting personally made all the difference in getting their resume out of the dreaded pile of resumes.
It’s a major edge, and I’m glad I figured this out. The courses also helps to shift my mindset from thinking that this is unfair to realizing that this is part of how top performers understand the entire game and skillset of obtaining your dream job. It’s eerie how they all figured it out on their own or through their experience. It’s kind of like natural selection. It also makes a lot of sense. Of course, having the right skill set and technical abilities matter a lot as well. But having the social intelligence and skills to connect with the right people puts you at a high level.
I’m also curious how well this program would work for non-standard roles, like acting, directing, and producing. That’s because its case studies and examples are always focused on standard jobs, like at tech companies, engineering companies, or finance companies. I’m sure some of it will still apply, though I don’t see as much as of the entertainment industry on LinkedIn. From what I’ve heard, that industry is even more dependent on networking since its digital infrastructure is lacking.
Advice for Course Takers
Since I took the old version of the course, I came in with some memories on the processes. Unfortunately, I ended up merging two modules of the course since they were similar. I later had to readjust since they were two different processes for different stages. I think this is work being cautious of even for a completely new student because I think I made similar mistakes when I first took the course, especially if you skip ahead or consume multiple modules at once.
There is the natural networking module which comes earlier on. This is a process for reaching out to and connecting over coffee or phone or email with someone who’s in the job title or industry that you’re looking to learn more about. The goal of this phase should be to simply learn more about that job title, what you might need to get to that job title or what the job title does, and the industry, or the company itself.
That is separate from a later module focused on landing job interviews. This process requires meeting with VIP individuals as they call it. These are people who are usually seniors at the company with influence or at least connections to the hiring manager for the dream job or company year after. While this also requires a similar process of reaching out and having a 30 minute chat with this person, one of the end goals this more so to subtly show that you are a worthwhile candidates and get them to help pass your resume on to the hiring manager, which carries a lot more weight than applying through the front door. These modules are more similar than you think since it stress that you shouldn’t make any overt attempts to offer yourself as the solution for that job or problem. In fact, a lot of the questions you’re prompted to ask our more the natural networking style.
This was nerve-racking for me because I felt like the chances of them naturally figuring it out are low so I had to explicitly asked in the past their resume on. But I resisted the urge to do so because I understood that they probably tell you do this for various reasons that are effective, including the fact that if the person is already experienced, he is already assessing that in the back of his head. Plus, forcing that would leave a bad taste. If you do the steps right, supposedly you can follow up and make a subtle suggestion on the next steps, and the person will go out of his way to help you if he so deem you worthy.
Merging these two modules isn’t the biggest deal since they’re so similar. I basically think it’s still worth emphasizing their difference for different stages of the process so you really get the full benefits out of it. There small differences like how you follow up with them afterwords that make the difference.
I would say this process is foolproof or guaranteed to work since sometimes, you just can’t get in front of the right person that you want. I’m sometimes lucky enough just to get in contact with someone at the company. And that someone doesn’t want to speak, he or she just want you to send your questions via email.
All that being said, I think these tips do help you get a better advantage. They don’t always work ideally, but they have gotten me more meetings and discussions and forge real relationships on the phone or digitally with people at companies I admire. Not all of them, in fact, many do not turn into some career opportunity. But it’s still an advantage that you can leverage that does help you more than the average candidate.
Plus, the course does suggest that if all else fails, you can still apply through the front door. And with all the advice on how to structure a resume and cover letter and the industry specific info you’re getting from natural networking, you can still stand out by applying through a job board or online job listing.
I think that’s one big revelation I had. The first time I went through the course years ago, I was much more hung up on the validity of the course when I found the percent chance I get a response or meeting to be low and the times it converted to the person actually passing on your resume to the hiring manager to be just as low or zero. But, I’m starting to see more of the value of the course now, and he makes a point that if you’re not getting the level you want, it’s on you to continue to tweak and test the pitching, how you’re coming across, and so forth. For me, I’ve learned to not rely on the scripts. You have to sometimes add more to them take make the most effective. Through that, I’ve been able to get a more favorable response, including an almost perfect meeting from a Director at a video game company I admire.
My Thoughts on Premium Courses
There is a long list of internet marketers selling you courses on topics ranging from dating advice to business tips that cost hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars. I think being careful with your money is wise. I have heard many stories of people spending thousands on dating courses and failing to see results. But that doesn’t mean all of these courses aren’t worth it, just most.
As of this writing, I am not sponsored or part of Ramit Sethi’s affiliate program. I wasn’t paid to say this. I think that the course could be a good investment for a specific type of person. If you’re at a financial point when paying for this course isn’t going to be financially devastating, if you’re an action taker, and if you’re someone who has a growth mindset and invests a lot of time into growing your career, this could be a good investment. If you strip everything away to its core, I think one module sticks out as the main reason why.
The salary negotiation module gives you the idea and techniques to ask for more and prove you’re worth it. Those who take action on this could make the money they spent back from this module alone. I definitely would be the person always taking the first offer at the table because I wouldn’t know any better.
Other than that, the whole system offers a more crystallized process for taking some fantasy of having your dream job in the clouds down to the actual dirt, with real steps and processes through LinkedIn. I’m sure some people will still be critics, nitpick, and complain because they expect some done-for-you system; I understand that because I had some of those skeptical feelings about the validity.
It’s not a miracle cure that always works. It’s something you have to put the work into. The course does imply that if you want to hop into a new career you think you’d enjoy, such as assistant producer, you have to obtain all the skills that job needs, whether that’s certifications or coursework. I know I’m not the only one who may have had the fleeting thought of “Wait, so the course is not just going to hand me the job I want no matter what it is?”
Of course not. If you want to be a Director of Marvel films and you don’t have any skills or idea how to direct, the course is never going to just give you a job offer magically. You have to work!
But if you do it right, the process can you lead you down a path of finding incredible roles you never would’ve considered at amazing companies you never would’ve thought you could get into.
One of the toughest parts of the course, even while going through the revamped version, what’s the uncertainty or results that didn’t go in an ideal way. A lot more people didn’t respond to my reach out messages on LinkedIn or follow-ups Then I would have expected or the course suggests. of those who did respond, a lot more chose the option to send the questions did you lie to them rather than meet virtually to develop a relationship. And of the people I met with in person, non suggested they would be willing to pass my resume over to the hiring manager. The course tells you to trust the process and it was in these moments that it got frustrating and I wanted to deviate from the program or I feel skeptical about the power of the program. But they were some things that I just had to trust. The course is that a lukewarm recommendation to the hiring manager is worth less than no recommendation so don’t do it. So I had to resist my mind shouting at me to just ask a VIP to forward that resume over. I ended up just trying to stay positive and focus on what I could control what which was writing the best reach out messages I could, and tweaking how I talk in present myself if I did get a response or meeting. Even though it didn’t result in anyone passing their recommendation on to a hiring manager, I did get some valuable information on job titles that would be a good or bad transition and how to position my marketing materials in when I apply. Obviously, I really wish the course work magically and created the perfect outcome it maps out and your dream companies gave you an offer for you dream title through a VIP recommendation, but that doesn’t always happen. The course does quickly mention that if the ideal situation doesn’t happen, that’s okay. Just like a fancy restaurant that’s all booked out on the waitlist, you don’t flip out if you can’t get in. You wait and keep your eye on it to see if an opening happens and you realize there are other restaurants. And you can always apply through the front door using all you’ve learned.
Overall, I think there’s still a lot of benefits to this course. Through my chats with various professionals during this process, I have gotten numerous points of feedback that I’m doing the right thing with my networking. I’m told I’m playing the game on a better level. Most people just send off mediocre resumes to the black hole of job boards, only to never hear back and have their resumes lost in a pile of hundreds. Every step of the process, the course give me useful tips to tweak each part of my career process to be better than the average person. I know how to story-tell in present my cover letter and resume now. I know how to present myself on interviews properly. And I know other ways of finding cool companies and job titles as well as learning more about new Industries or job title is I might be interested and forming connections with real people in those roles that could possibly help me get a foot in the door. No, it’s not a foolproof system, but it will help. but also, I think it’s important not to have too high expectations or standards. You’re not going to use this program or any program to flawlessly get into the first Dream company you think of. It’s partially a numbers game. When I look back at how I conducted the process before I found this course and how my colleagues do it and their work history, there’s clear and apparent differences. It’s offering frantic, smoothies broad job boards, and with a “take what you can get” mentality. That’s why I think a lot of people end up settling with a job higher or transition at a local company. it probably offers higher pay to a degree, maybe a slightly better job, not a dream job, but it’s what they can get, and it’s probably something that a recruiter posted them as an offer. But you’re still still in the belief that I don’t have to limit myself to local offers are companies that come to me, it’s expanding my mind set to play on a national level. I start to believe that something more and better is possible. I would just recommend that anyone going through this to have patience and don’t expect any miracles to happen in a couple weeks or even a few weeks from this course. From going through this a few times, it takes a lot of work and it can get frustrating when you’re not seeing results. But it’s worth having faith that each module is shaping you to be a better candidate and professional than the masses.
Common Limiting Beliefs That The Course Destroyed
There are some big limiting beliefs that many newbies have that the course really debunks. At the least, they open up your mindset to a different perspective.
One of these big beliefs is that this course may not be suited for you if you are not a top performer. Yes, it’s true that the bulk of the company’s profits are reserved for the top performers rather than the average performers. A savage folk would naturally believe that it’s harder or impossible to get a reasonable or substantial salary increase because of this, no matter how hard we try. But he does mention that there are things you can do to reinvent yourself or accomplish to change your results. Crystallizing specific goals or metrics your boss wants you to hit can give you a guidepost for what you need to accomplish to present a good case for race. And if all else fails, there’s always the option to reinvent yourself at another company. Sometimes, there are signs that a company would just not budge no matter what.
The other big belief is that using networking to get a job is a cheap, unfair way of getting ahead of people who are more qualified. I want to mention this to clear any confusion. I believe part of this misunderstanding is that people equate all networking to some sleazy tactic that is the same as the act of hiring family and friends just because of blood relations or friendships.
That’s not true, and it doesn’t work like that. You still need the skills, As you can see from my previous discussions, you need to have really good skills and experience just like all the other candidates to combine with your networking. Networking alone without the skills isn’t going to help much. Good networking should not come across sleazy but genuine and from a place of actually wanting to build a positive relationship. Plus, if you’re coming off sleazy, you’re doing it wrong.
I’m not great at networking, and I really had no connections starting off. I came from an immigrant family, and I had few friends or people who were connected. But I was able to put in a lot of work to network, which got me some meetings with people at my dream companies. Most of these didn’t lead to any jobs (yet), but I’ll stay in touch, and you never know years down the line! A small amount did lead to job opportunities, which blew my mind! (It took a lot of networking work though.) Networking is about marketing yourself! Get yourself known! They don’t know you exist, and going through a pile of resumes is not the best way.
The course talks about this more, but essentially, people who believe networking is a sham or unfair are usually these salty people who are in experience or not good at jobhunting. The course talks about this a lot more. It covers a concept called the shadow market, which points to how up to 75% of the jobs in the career industry or filled before they are ever made public through networks and relationships.
I realized early on years ago that the right approach is not to complain about this source it’s unfair because that’s not accurate or productive. It’s too start to learn how to network appropriately and add this as another tool in my toolkit. As you seen from my writing above, networking is not easy. Your usually not going to do it right when you first try it and it can be hard to forge a real bond that leads to any openings. But, even at my mediocre level, the one big benefit I’ve gotten from it is a lot more information from insiders on the industry, job titles, possible lateral transitions, and what hiring managers look for. You may not get perfect information because some of the people your networking with aren’t hiring managers, but it’s a whole lot better than hearing nothing after applying to a black hole of job boards.
If I would add any thing to this conversation about looking at networking differently, I would say that you have to acknowledge reality, not how you wish or imagine the world to work. Through talking to over 100 professionals in various industries, a good portion of them have told me unsolicited how valuable networking is and how it can impact finding a job. Many have mentioned how knowing the right person helped land them the job. But it’s not like they knew these people well. Some were cold contacts that they didn’t know anything about that they reached out to and formed a connection with.
I can’t tell you for sure why stuff like the shadow market exists. I think part of the reason is just the same reason is why marketing exists. There’s so much content, advertisements, and spam out there that hiring managers have a hard time letting people know that their hiring and finding the right people. And good talent has a hard time finding these places. Therefore, maybe hiring managers tap their network to sift through the crap out there and find someone who actually also has a strong recommendation from someone they trust, which is a much more valuable, unfixable indicator of quality talent.
If the power of networking (the right way) will continue to be vital, which I think it will, it’s important to really start forming and maintaining those relationships, something that a large majority of my colleagues don’t do. So, I think the potential benefits and advantage this gives you could be a lot as time rolls on. As of now, I think a lot of them still do well applying to the front door. But time will tell if it leads to anything incredible for me in the future. I think it will.
Another flawed belief is that “Dream jobs don’t exist. Everyone has to grin and bear a job they don’t particularly like.” This is likely more of a older generation philosophy since the younger generation I’m in touch with usually fight against this with their parents. However, I’m sure every age range has people who believe this. Ramit says this was a common response he got when he asked about dream jobs on his Twitter. He says they people who say this, when asked further, have zero experience with anyone who has their dream job, so when they don’t see it, they don’t believe it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Ramit knows many people with their dream jobs.
I definitely know it’s possible since I grew up with social media and saw so many people make a living from something they admire through YouTube or their online business. It’s not easy though. I think a dream job isn’t something you’re entitled to or handed on a silver platter. You have to become proactive and work for it. It won’t happen quickly unless you’re lucky. You have to find a path and forge it.
The final belief that I want to share here, which may be the most interesting one, is what might be the extra X factors that really tip certain candidates over the edge overs others: likability. The course focuses on a few factors that many candidates forget about because there so wrapped up in the technical aspects of a interview process. As a explain, it just makes so much sense. Once certain technical requirements are met, the hiring manager screening for more qualitative aspects, such as whether or not you’d be fun to hang around. These things often get overlooked or forgotten during the interview, which makes candidates come off worse than they want to. This is how Ramit got a job at the competitive Sun Microsystems over more qualified MBA candidates. It’s also how Jordan Harbinger said he failed a couple job interviews in law.
The Revamped Dream Job course came at a great time for me. Honestly, even though I bought and went through the original, I was on a trajectory of not revisiting the course and continuing a plateau at my job without realizing it. I could easily see myself continuing at my current job for many more years, feeling good but not great about it, until all of a sudden, I realized I was old. The course helped jolt me back to my senses to revisit the process, check where I am in the market, see what’s out there, and open myself to the idea that it’s possible for me to get something greater, even with a dream brand located on the other side of the country.
It definitely shifts your mindset to a different level. You start to believe there’s a chance you can get to a level in your industry that you once thought impossible. I believe that nowadays, many professionals remain in a career over time that doesn’t progress as much as they’d like because they lack the knowledge in this course. It’s possible that they figure that the best opportunities they can get are the few scraps that fall through when applying to the black hole of job boards and what recruiters come to them with. And that’s why they end up with similar or more junior job titles as the decades roll through at local companies. (Of course, that’s not everyone. It depends on the profession. A great programmer or surgeon may or may not find their way to the top naturally just through their performance.)
The course isn’t a foolproof system. You can’t follow all the steps and expect everything to work out perfectly. I don’t know it’s possible to have a foolproof system. The course requires you to put in the work of following the action steps. You could follow them all, and even with a spectacular resume, cover letter, and interview, it may not work out. From experience, you can go through the steps and not get a phone call with a “VIP” or referral or call back. Nonetheless, you put your best foot forward, try to learn where you can do better, and keep trying. I’m grateful for a lot of the methodologies and thinking in the course because it’s completely changed how I present and execute every step of the process to a much more effective level.