What are your career goals? What do you hope to accomplish in your current role? What long-term professional goals do you have?
If none of the answers excite you, then you might just feel stuck in your position. This is where setting goals, both professional and personal, comes in.
It doesn’t matter what your position in the company is. If you feel like you’re not achieving your career goals, this is the time to stop wishful thinking and start taking action.
In today’s post, we’ll share some AMAZING professional goal examples that you can think about yourself and also talk about in your next interview.
What Are Professional Goals?
Professional goals, or career goals, are targets that guide your career. They can be short-term or long-term, and they motivate you to work harder and aim for that promotion or a well-paying job in a big firm.
The right career goals help you land ideal jobs that will steer you towards success and growth. Many people aspire to grow professionally because it increases their earnings and improves their standards of living. Nonetheless, career development is not always easy since most people set unrealistic career objectives.
Let’s discuss some examples of professional goals and how to avoid setting unrealistic goals that can lead to disappointment.
Professional Goal Examples
As we’ve mentioned, when setting goals, you need to think about what you can achieve in short time frames. This way, your small achievements should help you work towards reaching your long-term goals. So, we’ve listed some examples of short-term and long-term goals that you can set for yourself.
Let’s start with short-term goals!
1. Improving Networking and Presentation Skills
The modern working environment requires lots of public speaking, presentations, and networking, and with so many companies moving most of their operations online, you must learn to use new communication tools and solutions.
Learn how to bring your presentations to life with creative designs and layouts. Use the best communication platforms to engage with your clients, colleagues, and employer and stand out from the competition. Strive to become an expert in hosting virtual conferences using the various tools available. Who knows, this might be the next big career as businesses and organizations are shifting to the digital world.
If you work remotely, you know how important communication with your team members, employer, and clients is. Set a short-term goal to improve your communication skills and boost collaboration.
Attend conferences, webinars, and local meetups with experts in your field and learn how to effectively communicate and collaborate while working remotely.
2. Learning New Skills
The learning curve never stops – regardless of your career level. The world is ever-changing, and demand for new skills and careers is always rising. Taking a course to sharpen your skills will put you in a favorable position for a promotion.
Let’s say you worked as an electrician for five or more years but, due to the advancements in technology, you feel left behind and want to learn new skills to stay relevant. First, you must identify the most marketable skill that is relevant to your current position. Once you do that, set a time frame within which you want to accomplish your objective.
A Gallup report says that 87% of millennials say that development and growth are important in the workplace. It’s worth noting that according to the AGCS Trend Compass 2019 report, by 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. So, if you want to keep up with the competition, you better invest in expanding your skillset.
Dozens of platforms offer online courses, including Udemy and Coursera. Learning new skills is a way of showing your employer that you’re not complacent about your career and that you are willing to gain new experiences to improve not only yourself but also the company’s performance.
3. Gaining Experience by Working as an Intern at a Reputable Company
We all know that money makes the world go around. Even so, if you’re aiming for professional growth, you must be willing to see past what you can or cannot gain financially. Many successful people started as unpaid interns in their industries. Today, we can’t imagine Steven Spielberg as someone who would do coffee runs for his film crew. However, he wouldn’t be where he is now without starting at the bottom of the totem pole as an intern.
According to NACE’s 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey Report, 70% of employers offer interns full-time positions. So, if you like to be part of a reputable organization, you should be willing to go through an internship program.
Try looking for co-op or apprenticeship opportunities in big companies to gain work experience. If you work hard enough, you may even secure a permanent position with the organization. You can quickly prepare documents to apply for the position by using a photography contract template or ready-to-use templates for other jobs.
4. Becoming a Business Owner
If you’ve always dreamed of owning a business, stop holding back. The time is now. If you have been working for a company and now feel you are ready to start a business, the experience you gained there will help you run and manage your business with confidence.
Gear up and start researching the business ideas that you have in mind. You can find almost all the answers to your questions online, not to mention professional advice and guidance from experts.
We are living in the digital era, and now, due to the scare of getting infected with COVID-19, online retail stores are performing exceptionally well. You just need to identify your niche and create an online store.
Set time-bound goals. For example, your goal might be as follows: By the end of this month (attainable), I will have registered my company, opened a website, and applied for the necessary documentation (measurable, specific).
5. Researching How Other Departments Work
To build a wide understanding of how other departments within the company are run, take a few days to shadow each department over the next few months. This way, you will learn what goes on in every department, what challenges they face, and how they contribute to the company.
A survey conducted by Monmouth University revealed that 93% of employees believe that training across different departments can help boost their careers. So, if you want to beat the competition or get promoted, make it a goal to spend a couple of hours or a day with each department.
6. Establishing a Personal Brand
“My goal is to develop a name for myself and establish a personal brand in my industry. I plan to build a website by the end of September (time-bound, specific) and hope to have gained at least 150 followers within one month of going live (attainable, measurable).”
This is a good example of an attainable goal. Setting such a goal will push you to work hard to create relevant content that will keep your followers engaged and also attract new audiences. Establishing a personal brand is a way to gain exposure for your expertise, and it shows your uniqueness, which in turn helps to draw clients in.
7. Becoming Better at Time Management
Are you always late for meetings? Do you often find yourself overworking? Do you have little time to spend with your family? Your time management skills may require some sharpening. Now is the time to get better at time management.
Find useful information on how to accomplish your tasks within a specific time frame and learn when to stop working to attend to personal stuff. Remote workers particularly have issues when it comes to ‘closing shop’ and calling it a day.
To improve your time management skills, try using time tracking app like Traqq. This tool is designed to make managing your time less stressful. One can easily lose track of time when working on projects, but with this app, you’ll get notified when it is time to take a break or move on to the next project. It comes in handy when you want to monitor short-term goals and maximize the time you have.
Traqq features timesheets and detailed reports to help you analyze your performance over a period of time, and you can compare your productivity with your earnings. This way, you will be able to tell whether or not you are making progress in your career.
Now that we’ve covered short-term goals, how about some long-term goals examples?
8. Earning a Professional Degree or Certificate
One of your career goals should be to earn a professional degree or certificate in your current field (if that is the career path you want to pursue). Many institutions offer programs that accommodate busy work schedules, like evening classes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, any kind of advanced education can increase an employee’s income by thousands of dollars annually.
Some companies offer career development programs to employees. Inquire about them from the human resource manager and grab every educational opportunity that comes your way so you can improve your current skills and acquire new expertise. Remember that you should learn new skills and advance your education whenever you get the chance.
9. Securing a Managerial Position
Some people are natural leaders who can motivate teams to become more efficient and productive. If you think you’re one of them, then it should be your long-term goal to secure a managerial position. Even so, you must know that becoming a great leader takes so much more than telling others what to do. Here are some key qualities you need to prove that you’re the best fit for the role:
- You know the ropes of your industry.
- You acknowledge your mistakes and share your success with your team.
- You accept that in certain subjects, someone else may know more than you do.
- No matter what role you’re in, you work harder than everyone else.
- As changes arise, you’re always ready to adapt.
- You don’t micromanage, and you know how to delegate tasks effectively.
- You have solid communication skills.
10. Becoming a Mentor
Most successful entrepreneurs owe their success to quality mentors, whom they looked up to for guidance, advice, and support. If you are eyeing a promotion at your company, demonstrating mentorship skills will take you a step closer to it.
This will show your employer that you want to set good examples and are willing to help young members to develop their career paths and plan for their futures. Start taking mentorship classes that are relevant to your job position. Specify how long the classes should take and how you plan to integrate them into your daily schedule.
11. Changing Your Job
It is important to work in a position that you find fulfilling. Otherwise, you will not be motivated at work, you won’t be able to connect well with workmates, and you won’t be productive. Deloitte’s Talent 2020 report says that 42% of job switchers are unhappy with how their skills and abilities are underutilized in their current role.
Meanwhile, 37% of respondents attribute the lack of career growth as a major influence on their decision.
Don’t settle into a life of mediocrity. Staying in the same job for years when you’re not making any progress career-wise or financially is detrimental. Instead, switch careers and choose one that you feel passionate about and that pays well.
Consider moving to a more challenging role in a different company. For example, you can set a goal to get a remote software engineer job that pays at least $50,000 with a leading company within the next three months. Start writing resumes and apply for at least 15 positions every day.
12. Getting Hired by Your Dream Company
There must be that company that you’ve always wanted to work for, but you are either too intimidated or inexperienced to apply. Set a goal to try your luck. Even if you don’t get the job the first time, don’t give up. Gain new experience and skills that will boost your resume and try again.
Make it your goal to work on improving yourself to get better at what you do so that even if your dream to work in that company doesn’t materialize, you will have become a better version of yourself and will be able to confidently work at an equally prestigious company.
13. Winning an Industry Award
It’s true that every person has their own definition of success. However, if there’s anything that can attest to someone’s achievements, it is an industry award. If you’re working in the literature or journalism industry, aiming for a Pulitzer Prize would be a good goal. Even small business owners can gain recognition by winning a SCORE award. In nearly every industry, highly reputable awards are given to deserving people.
Now that you’ve gotten some ideas for your future career goals, let’s talk about how to describe them in an interview.
How to Answer the Interview Question “What Are Your Career Goals?”
Have you ever been caught off-guard by this job interview question? If you’re asked this question, you must formulate an answer that will show your intention to be loyal to the company.
The interviewer likely asked this because they want to know if you plan to stay with them for a while. They’re also gauging if you’re going to leave if a better opportunity comes up. This interview question reveals if their company is included in your long-term plans or visions.
It can be challenging to answer questions about career goals right off the bat. So, it’s wise to prepare for them. Your best bet is to think of an answer with the company in mind.
Think of goals that will relate to the company you’re planning to work for. You can even divide them into short-term and long-term goals—just like the ones we shared in this article.
Mistakes to Avoid When Answering “What Are Your Career Goals?”
When talking about your career goals, you should not touch upon the topic of salary. Don’t come up with goals that relate to bonuses, earnings, perks, or raises. Otherwise, you’d look like you’re after the money and not the work you want to get hired to do.
Another mistake you should avoid is getting too deep into the specifics. You’d want to discuss clear goals, but you shouldn’t share too much information. For instance, if you’re aiming for a certain position but you’re not interviewing for that role, don’t discuss that with the interviewer.
Instead, talk about general goals, like taking on responsibilities. This way, you can balance your goals with a flexible attitude.
How Do You Describe Your Career Goals?
At this point, you might ask, “How do I write my career goals?” Well, to begin with, you need to come up with a clear and specific statement for your professional goals for work. Here are some tips for creating a compelling list of professional goals:
Consider What You Are Passionate About
Without understanding where your passion lies, you will not realize what your career goals are. However, when introspecting, remember that interests will be different for everyone. So, focus on the things or activities that bring you joy. Then, think about the options that you can use to turn your passion into a career.
If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, don’t worry. You can dip your toes into freelancing projects or volunteering opportunities. Doing so will help you decide what career path you want to take.
Perform Due Diligence
You’re likely to ensure the success of your career goal statement when you know what to anticipate. Keep in mind that every industry is different. So, you must invest time in performing due diligence. You need to learn about what’s required for the role you’re aiming for.
Let’s say you want to become a project manager. Before you even attempt to set professional goals, you need to take courses. For instance, there are plenty of project management methodologies you can learn, including Scrum, Agile, Kanban, and PRISM, among others. So, it pays to educate yourself before you define your professional goals.
Ask the Important Questions
When you want to write a career goal statement, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the principles I value?
- What type of person do I want to be in the workplace?
- How will my career and personal goals align?
- What is my vision for my future?
- What are the things that led me to realize my vision?
- What projects or tasks do I enjoy being part of?
- What are my areas of improvement?
- Do I need to upskill to be successful in the role I’m aiming for?
- Why am I choosing this career path?
When writing your career goal statement, look at your answers to these questions. You will see which ones are aligned with the realistic opportunities available to you. So, make sure you take the time to reflect when answering these questions.
Define Your SMART Goals
When you set your professional goals, you need to ensure that they are SMART:
- Specific – Don’t just say you want to earn more money, but say how you plan to do it. This might include learning new skills or becoming more productive.
- Measurable – Is your goal measurable? Come up with a way to measure your outcomes. For example, you can set a specific timeframe within which you intend to have accomplished your target of completing an advanced online course.
- Action-based – Setting realistic and achievable goals will make the process easier. Don’t push yourself too hard by trying to do things that are impossible to do since that will only lead to disappointment.
- Relevant – You will be able to accomplish your objectives if you set career goals that align with your educational background. For example, if you have a degree in marketing but you set goals to be a singer, this career path might not match your skills, qualifications, and professional background.
- Time-based – Be clear on how you plan to achieve your goals. Try breaking your career down into manageable chunks and set specific start and end dates.
Remember, when setting goals, you should make sure they are coherent and complement each other well if you want to improve your productivity and climb up the ladder. Whether you are looking for a new job, want to try a new career, or want to improve your performance, you will need an action plan that will help you establish and reach your career goals.
Write Down Your Action Plan
Once you’ve determined what your career goals are, it is time to develop a plan on how you can reach them. Think about every step you need to take to get to your target and make sure you include them in your professional goal statement. If you plan to take courses or gain experience, indicate it in your action plan.
Make Proper Adjustments
You may be confident about what you want for your career. However, along the way, your interests, circumstances, experiences, and career motivations may change. There’s a lot of room for personal growth while you’re working on your long-term objective. So, be ready to make proper adjustments whenever necessary.
How to Achieve Your Career Goals
- Write them down: As we’ve mentioned in the previous block, you need to put your goals into writing. This technique might seem simple and old-school, but it is highly effective. Put the notes where you can see them daily, like on your desk, to motivate yourself to work harder towards achieving your targets each day.
- Share your plans: How many times have you set New Year’s resolutions and followed through on them? Right, it is not easy. To challenge yourself, share your career plans with your partner, friends, family, or employer.
- Visualize your career path: Psychologists recommend that in order to succeed in anything you do, you must learn to visualize yourself crossing the finish line. If you want to become a CEO or business owner, start by envisioning yourself as one.
- Set deadlines: You won’t achieve your goals if you work without deadlines. Deadlines will keep you on your toes, and when you finally accomplish your targets, you can reward yourself by celebrating the milestone you have reached so far.
We understand how challenging goal setting can be, especially if you’re planning your career. Even so, we’re certain that the tips we shared in this article will nudge you in the right direction.