The Importance of Setting Career Goals
August 08, 2023

What are your short-term and long-term goals in your career? You might have been asked this during a job interview. It may help you get a job if you have big work goals, but it’s also important to follow through. A good company will help you reach those goals, but there are also psychological, emotional, and, of course, financial benefits to doing so.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or figuring out how to move up in your current company, setting and working toward short-term and long-term goals can help you a lot. Still, it’s not always clear what goals to aim for. The next time you sit down to think about your job goals, either by yourself or with a mentor at work, this post should help.

What are goals for your work?
job goals are specific milestones that you can reach on your way up the job ladder to help you grow as a professional. The goals you’ve set are in line with the career you’ve chosen.

Setting a job goal involves a lot of different things. You’ll learn more about this in the future, but to sum it up, setting job goals means:

figuring out what skills or experiences you already have that you need for your present job.
Find out where you want to be in the future by doing research.
figuring out if you might need any extra skills or experiences to get there.
Putting together a plan that will help you reach your goals in a fast and planned way.
Scrabble tiles are used to reach career development goals.
One more piece of advice: don’t try to do it on your own. Get advice and tips from a leader in your field. This should be someone who is either higher up in your company (or another organization) than you are or who works in the field you want to move into.

For the latter, someone at the same term level as you is fine, as long as that person has more years of experience in that field and can help you figure out what skills make the most sense for making that lateral move.

How do I pick my professional goals?
There is no right or wrong way to set goals for your job or business. Experts do suggest one basic rule, though: use the REAL development goals approach.

REAL is a word for the following:

Relevant: Tells you why it’s important and worth doing.
Experimental: refers to research work that will lead to more knowledge
Aspirational: Points out an area where improvement is wanted
Learning-based: The results are based on getting better at something.
Set long-term and short-term goals and think about these traits if you want to change careers or move up in the field you are already in.

20+ Goals for Your Career
Here are some examples of job goals you can make for your work and professional growth. It’s important to think of these goals as guides and make sure your own goals fit with your career route.

Did you know that 91% of people who say they are happy at work have a mentor? But only 37% of workers say they have a guide at work. Mentors are often one of the missing pieces when it comes to getting and developing employees. This video with tips from Fortune 500 HR leaders on how to start a mentoring program will tell you more about how to do it. 👉

These examples of the best work goals will help you plan out the steps you need to take to get your dream job.

1. Change the way you work.
One of the most important examples of a job goal is the need to change paths. Many professionals are unhappy with their present job or employer because it doesn’t use their skills and qualifications to its fullest. People’s long-term work goals often include making a change in their job.

They want to find possible companies and jobs with descriptions that match the skills they have.

2. Feel secure in your job
Stability is one of the best things you can want in a job. The job market is very tough, and there may be a lot of people with more skills or more experience who want your job. One example of a job goal should be to learn new skills and meet new people.

To reach your job goal of stability, you should work on getting more experience, getting better at managing your time, and building your personal brand. Stability can be a part of a number of the other job goals listed here.

3. Move up to a place of leadership.
Another common career goal is to move up to a role of leadership. To get to this point in your work, you need to have leadership skills or take classes to learn the skills you need to become a project manager or do something similar.

You can also look for leadership training on your own and find a mentor who can give you the skills you need to be a leader in your job or business.

4. Work on your own growth.
Personal growth is an important part of work growth. Try to improve your people skills, your job interview skills, and your hands-on experience. Along with your work goals, you also need to set goals for yourself.

When you improve yourself as a person, you’re more likely to do well at work.

5. Get a credential.
Certificate example as an example of work goals.
Getting a professional license is a common example of a goal that people set for their careers. The point of getting a certification is to show your skills and abilities to a future or possible job. It shows how skilled you are in your chosen field or makes you eligible for a pay raise.

That, of course, raises the question, “Where do I get certifications?””Online learning services like Coursera are good places to start because they offer a wide range of courses and certificates from well-known schools. If your company gives you money to learn and grow on your own, you can probably spend it on courses like these.

6. Learn something new.
Setting goals is also helpful if you want to do more than just get certifications and are thinking about getting a whole new bachelor or graduate degree. You might want to learn more about a new subject with a new bachelor’s degree or improve your skills with a master’s or doctorate.

Getting more information and education can help you reach your own short-term and long-term goals. Just make sure the degree you want to get will help you get the jobs you want. In some jobs, having a PhD could hurt your chances of getting hired because some companies might think you are overqualified.

7. Get a better job.
Setting a short-term job goal to get a promotion is a good idea. You can move up the career ladder by getting a promotion to a leadership role or a position as a project manager. But you shouldn’t think that getting a promotion is the end of your work path. It should only help you get to your other job goals.

8. Become the best at what you do.
Becoming an expert in the field you work in is a further example of a worthwhile job goal with both short-term and long-term steps. This goal will encourage you to keep learning and look for chances to learn. This way of thinking can also help you reach your business goals because it makes you a thought leader. People will want to work or collaborate with you because of this.

9. Learn something new.
Adding “learn a new skill” to our list of examples of job goals might seem like a waste of time. But to break this thought down, we’ll say that you shouldn’t just work on hard skills.

Instead, make sure you find both hard and soft skills that could be important for your future job path and work on them. ZipRecruiter looked at its own data and found that 93% of companies want applicants to have soft skills. So don’t forget about things like communicating, working as a team, fixing problems, and managing your time. Both present and future employers look at these things when deciding who to hire and who to promote.

10. Put out a book.
One of the best job goals is to write and publish a book that is related to your field. It is a great way to show how knowledgeable you are in your area and to solidify your position as a thought leader.

11. Boost your success measurements.
There are some examples of career goals for salespeople that include measurements.
You can use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and evaluate your job goals. When you focus on these numbers, you can reach your REAL goals because you have something to shoot for.

There are many examples of this, but let’s focus on people who work in sales. Sales professionals often use Net Promoter Score (NPS), Win Rate, Quota Attainment, and Conversion Rate as ways to measure sales success. Having a plan for how to improve these personal metrics can help you reach your work goals in a big way. If you don’t know how to reach your goals, you might need to ask someone with more experience to help you get where you need to be.

12. Learn a new piece of tech.
One more example of a career goal is to learn a new technology (or set of tools) that is important for your present or desired job. As technology has improved, it has led to a number of new tools that many companies now use to make their work more efficient and productive.

If you can learn how to use these tools well, you’ll be ahead of others and be able to do your work more quickly and efficiently. In short, it gives you an edge over your competitors and makes you a benefit to your company.

The most popular types of tech tools right now are:

Effectiveness (like GSuite)
Digital marketing tool, such as marketing software that does the work for you.
Graphic design (like Photoshop and InDesign)
Analysis of Data and Visualization
If your company offers it, take the time to learn how to use new tools and platforms. Or, you can learn it on your own, particularly when it is a key skill for your job.

13. Help someone out by being a guide.
Women help each other to reach their job goals.
We talked about how important soft skills are a few tips ago. Being a mentor is one of those job goals that can help you reach other career goals as well. This is because mentoring allows you to develop many soft skills that are in demand.

One thing you can get from working with a mentor is the important soft skills you need to move up to leadership roles. Mentoring also helps you build strong relationships with other people, which can be useful if you find that their skills, networks, or talents can help you.

A guide can be almost anyone. Even if you’re new to the company, reverse mentoring is becoming more popular and is a great way for junior workers to get in touch with leaders and possible job sponsors.

14. Cross-train in a different area of function
Cross-training is a tried-and-true way to gain new skills and make yourself more valuable to your business. Even though it’s important to get better at the skills you need for your present job, you shouldn’t limit yourself. Think of other ways you can learn new skills that may not be related to your present job. So, if new chances come your way, you’ll be ready for them.

15. Grow your business contacts.
Growing your professional network will help you reach a lot of your personal and business goals faster. Also, it’s a goal in and of itself. If you join professional groups with experts in your area, you’ll be able to get the help you need to reach your career goals and grow as a professional.

Without mentoring programs, it’s hard to grow your business network. If you’re serious about getting ahead in your job or helping someone else do so, get involved in mentoring or use mentoring software to start a mentoring program.

You can meet new business contacts by going to conferences, training sessions, workshops, and forums for your company. Use your professional relationships to find new ways to learn or to get references for jobs you might want to do.

Obviously, if you’re not on LinkedIn already, that’s a great place to start. You can join forums for your specific business, but LinkedIn is the best place to meet other professionals.

16. Internships are a good way to get knowledge.
If you just graduated or are on your way to making a job change, you might want to apply for an internship at a big company. To reach your long-term career goals, you need to learn how to start at the bottom and get enough hands-on experience doing the different tasks and duties of the post you want.

For example, you can do a job that focuses on project management to learn the skills you’ll need to be a good project manager.

We understand why people are hesitant about jobs right now. Companies have used unpaid jobs in the past as a way to get free work from young people who are easy to influence. At the end of the internship, that work did not always lead to a job offer. But things are going to change. Unpaid jobs are slowly going away, which is a good thing.

17. Stop working from 9 to 5!
You’ve probably heard the term “don’t quit your day job” used to say that someone’s personal interests aren’t good enough to make a living from. Still, if you’re sure you have the skills to reach your goals and your day job is getting in the way, it might be worth taking that risk.

Just make sure you have a plan B before you quit your 9-to-5 job. Have enough money saved to get you through the beginning of your next move. Also, make sure you have the right people in your network who could help you find another job if your plans don’t go as planned.

18. Get paid more.
Picture of a dollar bill to show job goal of getting a pay raise.
We know. It’s much easier to say “Get a raise” than to actually do it. But it can be done, even with the job market and economy the way they are right now.

Find out what the top salaries are in the area you want to work in. Make reaching that level one of your short-term job goals. Be careful about how you ask for a raise, but using this information can help you a lot if you want to get one.

Getting a raise in pay is not a silly goal. Instead, look at it as a sign that you have hit the top of your job or career.

19. Make the way you work more efficient.
Long-term, your job can be helped by coming up with new and better ways to do your work. It shows that you are willing to take charge and help your group succeed. Finding new and better ways to do a job is a great way to impress your boss and put yourself in the running for a leadership position or a raise.

20. Start a business of your own.
One of the best goals you can have for your job is to start your own business. When you own your own business, you decide how much you can earn and have room to grow as a worker.

Find something you’re really interested in and use that to help you start your own business. If you want to change jobs, starting your own business is about as straight-forward a way as you can get.

21. Learn about the world
The world of work is becoming more global very quickly. If you can help it, don’t just work in your home country. Look for ways to work with international companies and experts in your area from all over the world. Use it as a chance to learn from them and to share what you know, too.

22. Learn how to talk well.
We already said that speaking is a very important soft skill, and that you can get better at it by helping others. If you want to make a change in your career, you need to be able to talk to people. Don’t expect to be in a leading position, especially if you have trouble communicating or don’t try to get better at it. Aside from a few exceptions, great leaders tend to

23. Make better use of your time.
If you want to move up in your job, being able to make the best use of your time can be very helpful. The only thing you can’t get back is time. Use your time well by learning new skills and getting as much done as possible. This will put you on the right track to reach your goals for professional growth.

24. Make a name for yourself.
Creating your own brand is a good goal for your job. You can stand out from other pros in your field by doing this. Once you’ve built your brand, you should focus on keeping it strong and acting in a way that fits with it.

It could take a few years to build up your personal brand, so work hard on your job while you’re building up your brand.

Don’t try to reach your career goals on your own.
Find a guide. This is something we’ve talked about a lot because it’s so important. Most CEOs think that coaching makes their companies work better and make more money. The fact that 84% of Fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs shows how important mentoring is to great companies.

In every company, mentoring happens on its own. But when it is planned from the top down and done on purpose, it becomes measured. Structure helps people reach their goals. Get yourself a teacher. And if your company doesn’t have a training program, ask for it and then ask to be part of the team that builds it.


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