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What Are Career Goals and How to Develop Them?

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"To achieve something, whether it's a big or small thing, the best way to succeed is to set goals."

In life, we have many opportunities to set goals such as planning a wedding, buying a house, or going on a vacation.

When looking for a job, it’s essential to set calculated and specific goals. By doing so, you can break down the process into manageable steps.

Finding a new job may seem simple, but it can be demanding and stressful. However, having a plan in place can make it easier.

Therefore, it’s important to start by answering the question, “What are your career goals?” Through setting career goals, you can clarify what you want to achieve and plan how to get there.

Find out: Professional New Year’s Resolution Ideas: Career Goals You Should Keep

What is a Goal?

A goal is simply something you want to achieve in the future. It could be something you desire or need, and it can be big or small, like a long-term or short-term goal.

When it comes to careers, the most common goal is deciding on the type of job you want to do for your entire career.

For example, do you want to be a chemist, a doctor, a fundraiser, a project manager, a sales expert, or something else?

If you’re unsure about what you want to do, there are some exercises you can try to help you figure it out.

It’s not enough to just say you want to be a marine biologist when you grow up. You need to know how to reach that goal.

Having a clear idea of your ultimate career goal will help you set short-term goals that will help you get there.

Build Your SMART Goal

When you set goals, it’s critical to be very specific about what you want to achieve so that you can increase your chances of actually accomplishing them. That’s where the SMART acronym comes in handy.

By using SMART to guide your goal-setting process, you can create a clear plan of action for reaching your objectives. For example, if you’re interested in pursuing a sales career, your SMART goal might look something like this:

Within the next year, I want to become an entry-level sales representative at a Fortune 500 company.

Here’s how this goal meets the SMART criteria:

Specific: You’ve identified a specific job title and company that you want to work for.

Measurable: You’ll know if you’ve achieved your goal if you land a job as an entry-level sales rep at a Fortune 500 company.

Attainable: You’ve set a realistic goal for yourself that you can achieve with hard work and dedication.

Relevant: Pursuing a sales career at a top company aligns with your career goals and aspirations.

Timely: You’ve set a deadline of one year to accomplish this goal.

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There Are Different Types of Goals

There are various kinds of goals that you can set for yourself. When it comes to your career, it’s essential to distinguish between short-term and long-term goals.

This means having a clear idea of what you want to achieve in the near future and what you aspire to accomplish in the long run. When you understand this, you can create an action plan that works best for you.

For instance, if your ultimate aim is to work for a prestigious Fortune 500 company, you may set a long-term goal of joining one within the next year or so. This will help you focus on taking the necessary steps to reach that goal.

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How to Develop Short-term and Long-term Career Goals

To develop short term and long term career goals, you need to consider where you currently are in your career, where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there.

For example, if you are currently unemployed and want to be gainfully employed, that would be Point A and Point B respectively.

To achieve this, start by setting a long-term goal and then break it down into smaller short-term goals that you can achieve along the way.

When hiring, managers typically look for a combination of education, practical experience, and cultural fit in candidates.

Once you know your ultimate career goal, do your research to determine what it takes to be a top candidate in your field. Then, set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) that will help you reach your career objectives.

Long Term Goals

Long-term goals are those that require a considerable amount of time to accomplish, typically spanning over a year, five years, ten years, or even more.

Examples of such goals could be getting a job after finishing college, or planning a vacation to London for next summer.

Achieving long-term goals requires careful planning and commitment over an extended period. To succeed, it’s essential to break down these big goals into smaller, more manageable short-term goals that will keep you on track and motivated towards achieving your long-term aspirations.”

Short Term Goals

Having a clear set of short-term goals is like having a to-do list.

Let’s say you want to become an entry sales representative at a Fortune 500 company within a year. To achieve this, you will need the right education and some experience. Depending on the company, you might also need certifications or licenses.

To help you achieve your long-term goal, here are some short-term goals:

Research and find out what certifications are needed for the sales representative job you want to apply for.

Enroll in the required classes to get the education you need to pass any licensing exams.

Take an insurance licensing exam within the next two months.

After passing the licensing exam, apply to the state board of licensing to get licensed to sell.

These short-term goals are like a step-by-step guide to reaching your long-term goal. Even though there are four goals listed, you’re just getting started on your path to achieving your ultimate goal.

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Goals as They Relate to Your Job Search

When looking for a job, it’s helpful to have clear goals for what you want to achieve in your career, both in the short and long term.

It’s okay to have ambitious goals, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort to make them happen.

Once you know what you want, you can create a plan of action to help you achieve your goals. This can include things like updating your resume, networking with people in your field, and searching for job listings that match your skills and experience.

When you have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for, it makes it easier to focus your job search efforts and find the right opportunities.

Your network can also be a valuable resource in helping you find job openings and make connections in your industry.

Tools For a Successful Job Search

To have a successful job search, it is important to set short-term and long-term goals.

Before starting your job search, you should define what you want to achieve. Once you start searching, you need to show your achievements in your resume instead of just listing your responsibilities.

Rather than just saying you were “responsible for” a task, explain what you did to achieve your goals.

For example, if your job required you to bring in 50 new clients each month, you could break it down into smaller tasks.

Setting a short-term goal of calling 75 prospects each day to close 2 sales could help you achieve your long-term goal of bringing in 50 clients by the end of the month.

When describing your achievements on your resume, you can use the STAR method to provide more detail. This involves explaining the Situation you faced, the Action or Task you took, and the Result you achieved.

Through using this method, you can turn a generic phrase like “Responsible for” into a more specific action. For instance, you could say “Exceeded client quota by networking with 75 prospects daily to onboard 50+ new clients by the end of each month.” It’s also important to make your career goals clear on your resume.

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Career Goals vs Outdated Resume Objective

When writing a resume, it’s important to focus on your career goals and achievements rather than including an outdated resume objective.

A professional summary paragraph at the beginning of your resume is a great way to showcase your career goals and achievements.

This section can also include your aspirations for your future career path. Using a career summary paragraph instead of a resume objective can help grab a hiring manager’s attention and make them more interested in considering you for the job.

Find out: Is Your Resume Inspirational? If Not, Here’s How to Fix It

Personal Goals vs Professional Career Goals

When it comes to setting professional career goals, it’s essential to consider your personal goals as well.

Nowadays, many workplaces are becoming more flexible and even allow for remote work. It’s been shown that people are more productive when they have jobs that they find fulfilling.

When setting your professional career goals, make sure to include job types that align with your personal interests and passions. By doing so, you can create a more fulfilling work-life balance that benefits both your personal and professional aspirations.

How to Answer “What are your career goals?” in a Job Interview

When you’re asked about your career goals in a job interview, the first thing you need to do is have a clear idea of what your goals are.

Once you know that, you should then communicate those goals in a way that makes sense to the hiring manager.

Keep in mind that the hiring manager wants to know if you can see yourself at their company in the future and if your goals are relevant to the job you’re applying for.

After stating your career goals, be prepared to explain how you plan to achieve them. Many interviewers will ask follow-up questions to learn more about your vision and how you plan to get there.

It’s also critical to show that you’re flexible and adaptable. Sometimes, your short-term goals may need to change to help you achieve your long-term goals.

This is why a clearly defined short-term goals is essential to have. It’s easier to adjust one step on a path than to build a whole new road.

By following these steps, you can communicate your career goals effectively in a job interview and show the hiring manager that you’re a good fit for their company.

Find out: How To Answer “Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?”

One Last Thing – With whom do you share your goals and when?

When you have a goal, it’s natural to want to share it with others. However, research suggests that sharing your goals with others can actually be counterproductive.

When you tell someone about your plans, and they react positively, your brain tricks you into feeling satisfied and accomplished. This can make you less likely to put in the effort required to achieve your goal.

Derek Sivers, a speaker, and author, discussed this phenomenon in his TED Talk titled “Tips to help you set and reach your goals.” He explains that this psychological disconnect has been around for quite some time, with research dating back to the 1920s.

So, what does this mean for you and your goals?

It’s important to be selective about who you share your goals with and when. If you do decide to share your goals, try to choose someone who will hold you accountable and provide constructive feedback, rather than just showering you with praise.

And if you’re really serious about achieving your goals, it might be best to keep them to yourself and focus on taking action to make them a reality.

Final Thoughts

In life, we often have things we want to achieve, whether we are aware of it or not. These things we want to achieve are called goals.

Setting goals can make things easier for us, especially when we are looking for a job.

Instead of randomly applying to any job we find, we should take some time to think about what we really want in a job and set SMART goals to help us achieve it.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

When we set goals that meet these criteria, we are more likely to achieve them. For example, instead of saying we want a job that pays well, we can set a SMART goal of finding a job that pays $60,000 per year by the end of the next six months in a company that values work-life balance.

By setting SMART goals, we can focus our efforts on the things that really matter to us, and avoid wasting time and energy on things that don’t.

If you are looking for a job in the short term, our professional resume writing services, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile assistance can help you stand out from the competition and increase your chances of landing your dream job.


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