5 Steps For Setting Career Goals

There are a number of different reasons you might be inclined to set career goals. You may be dissatisfied with your current job or you may see a bright future on the career path that you are on; some people find themselves in a job, and before they know it are in a career they didn’t actually set out on. Whether you want to make a career change or create a plan to take your career to the next level, one good strategy is to establish career goals. For such an important venture that most likely contains short- and long-term actionable items, here are five steps for setting and reaching your career goals. Related: S.M.A.R.T. Goals For Job Seekers


Reflect On Your Values And Passions

What matters to you? What are you passionate about? What could you envision leaping out of bed to go do every day? These are a few questions to ask yourself while you reflect on what is really important to you. No matter what stage you are in your career, it is always helpful to call a timeout and analyze where you are and where you want to be based on your values and passions.

Analyze The Big Picture

Take a macro-level view of the different variables that could affect your career. Think about the global marketplace for your profession, as well as the types of training that is necessary. Is there new technology on the horizon, would you benefit from formal training, are there lessons you need to learn on the job, or would it be a good move to pursue additional education? For instance, if you were an aspiring journalist 20 years ago, you could have focused on traditional print media or you could have explored blogging and social media, recognizing new opportunities that were on the horizon. Consider seeking out a mentor in your field, someone who has been there, done that, and is happy to share his/her experience and perspective with you. Goal-setting is a forward-thinking process, and while you can’t predict what the future will hold, you want to be as prepared as possible.

Determine Small Pieces To Bite

Once you’ve analyzed the big picture, there’s a good chance you have a long career to-do list. From training to education to experience, all of those could be things you need or want to accomplish. There is also a good chance you will be pursuing multiple avenues at the same time, but take the time to figure out what makes sense for you. For example, talking to your boss about getting exposure to other aspects or functions of your business is generally less difficult (and financially risky) than enrolling in a graduate program. Your organization may have the ability to provide greater breadth of experience for you; or maybe the opposite is necessary, you are seeking to increase your depth of knowledge. If your organization can’t provide that, perhaps a move to a different role, position, or organization is in the cards in the short-term to get you closer to your long-term career goals.

Take Action

Once you determine the initial steps toward your career goals, you have to start making tangible progress. Start making connections with your professional network, have that conversation with your boss, submit your resume to positions aligned with your goals. Some of these will come easy, others may not, and many will require time, follow-up and persistence on your part. Keep your steps visible to you and, perhaps even more effective, consider letting your mentor or other confidant know your plans so they can hold you accountable.

Learn & Adjust

Even the best plans rarely go off without a hitch. If yours does, that’s fantastic; if it doesn’t, don’t be shocked and be ready. Learn along the way and prepare to be resilient, which may mean adapting your approach or even modifying one or more of your goals altogether. The more you learn, the more informed you become about where you want to be. They’re your goals, it is okay to re-visit them and make modifications as you move along your journey.

Related Posts

How To Answer 7 Of The Most Common Interview Questions Top 3 Tips For Phone Interviews How To Ace The Panel Interview

About the author

Michelle Riklan gained extensive HR leadership experience at Fortune 500 companies such as Sony Entertainment and John Wiley & Sons. With a combined 20 years of in-house corporate and targeted consulting experience, Michelle currently services large corporations, small businesses, and individuals in all aspects of Human Resources and Career Management. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter or call her at 800.540.3609 for more information. Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less

Back in March, we made the hard decision to change our private Facebook group of over 37 THOUSAND members to a fee-based only platform.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if a recruiter called you a day EARLY for your phone interview (and you were NOT PREPARED!)

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you caught our last video in our latest series, "Well This Happened..." you heard about the problem one of our viewers is having with their co-worker. To recap, they have a colleague that overshares a little too much, and they weren't sure how to go about addressing this. We had some great responses from our viewers on how they think our friend should handle this. Check out the answer below and let us know if you guessed right or not!

SHOW MORE Show less

Negotiating salary can be a scary, intimidating experience. However, if you go in prepared, it doesn't have to be that way - you can confidently negotiate for a salary you deserve. But how?

SHOW MORE Show less