A recent survey highlighted that Americans’ primary career goals include working from home, securing a raise, and enhancing job-related skills—objectives that are both widely applicable and achievable across various career fields. Yet, when faced with an interview panel, a deeper level of specificity is required. It’s common for interviewers to probe into your career aspirations, asking where you see yourself in the next five years.
These inquiries aim to sketch a picture of your potential career trajectory and personal ambitions. Despite the openness of such questions, a significant number of interviewees find themselves unprepared to articulate their career goals clearly. Offering a thoughtful and authentic answer can markedly elevate your prospects of employment, underlining the importance of being well-prepared to discuss your career objectives.
This is where this post can help you. We’ll provide concrete examples where you can lift your responses during the interviews. And to genuinely improve your credibility as a potential candidate, take these career development courses.
What are career goals?
Career goals refer to specific claims elaborating on what a professional intends to pursue within a chosen career path. These goals may refer to physical objects, events, positions, and developments an individual wants to achieve throughout their career journey. There are two main types of career goals, namely, short-term and long-term career goals.
How to set career goals effectively
Setting effective and professional goals will significantly help any applicant’s career advancement. Knowing what you want and how to achieve them will establish a more defined career path for one to follow. One of the best ways career experts recommend to any professional is to create SMART goals.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are the characteristics that goals should have to be more definite, achievable, and realistic. This approach is science-backed and utilized by institutions from varied fields like healthcare, manufacturing, and business.
Here are some of the most notable advantages of setting SMART goals:
- Productive alignment of time and resources
- Organized achievement of job goals
- Easier tracking of failed targets, if any
- Positive impact on career and personal development
- Higher chances of career success
Career goals examples + scripts for your next interview
There is no shame for young professionals to study realistic career goals made by others. Especially when you do not have much experience, learning how others do things can be a helpful guide to creating a functional list. Even if you are no newbie, having a peek at top-tier examples should boost your ability to write impressive goals.
Let’s shift our focus towards short-term goals. While the SMART framework is often associated with setting long-term objectives, its principles are particularly impactful for crafting short-term goals. These goals tend to be more stable and less prone to change than their long-term counterparts. Moreover, short-term goals offer the advantage of immediate actionability and the ability to practice and achieve multiple objectives within a shorter timeline. This approach not only allows for quick wins but also sets the foundation for sustained progress and success in your career development journey.
Study these short-term career goal examples:
1. Learn new skills
Learning a new job-related skill is an ideal career goal as it makes one more competitive and reliable. Here is an example of how you can relay this career goal:
“I will unlock the data visualization skill by accomplishing an online, five-hour data visualization course that is recommended by my department manager within the first two weeks of the third quarter to create more meaningful data presentations during the weekly marketing meeting. To avoid interfering with my daily tasks, I will file for overtime whenever I will study the said course. Further, I will undergo an online quiz that is included in the course to measure my progress in this new skill.”
2. Improve productivity
According to studies, having too many unnecessary meetings only makes workers unproductive. If you are a manager looking for ways to optimize your subordinates’ work, it is more practical to limit the number of meetings your team will have per week.
“As the head of the administrative department, I will reduce the standup meetings from thrice to only once a week. Starting next week, our department will only meet on Fridays at 3 PM for thirty minutes. Every member will have 5 minutes to provide updates on their work. Extensions shall be allowed at my discretion. On the Friday following the end of the 3rd Quarter, every member will submit a written evaluation report on the changes they experienced after this implementation.”
3. Achieve work-life balance
Maintaining a work-life balance is integral to keeping workers from experiencing burnout. The least likely workers experience burnout, the more chances they have to excel professionally. Learn from this script:
“I am going to read a novel for at least one hour after arriving home from work from Monday to Friday and attempt to finish reading the said novel within the week. I will continue doing this routine for the entirety of the second quarter and present an evaluation report of this experience within the first week of the third quarter. Reading is a therapeutic experience, and it helps me de-stress from work.”
4. Develop emotional intelligence
Keeping a diary is one of the simplest ways to keep one’s emotions in check. The written record will help people realize how they should deal with their feelings regularly. This script can be helpful:
“I will log on to my journal once daily, every day, before bedtime. I will be detailed in my entries and attempt to explain how my emotions fluctuate and the possible reasons behind such changes. This activity will commence from October 1, 2022, until October 30, 2022. During the first week of November 2022, I will release a personal analysis of how the experience changed the level of my emotional intelligence.”
5. Adopt a growth mindset
The growth mindset refers to the thinking that one will eventually grow and improve through time, effort, and energy. This positive approach helps people find opportunities in challenges and failures. Here is a SMART goal script to achieve this goal:
“Every time I feel overwhelmed with my workload I will spend an additional thirty to forty-five minutes thinking about a solution to the existing problems. If I cannot find an appropriate solution, I will log this instance to my journal and approach an available co-worker. I will apply this approach from October 1, 2022, until November 1, 2022, and keep a record of how many times I ended up asking for support from others and giving up on the task.”
6. Gain valuable experience in your desired field
Gaining relevant experience in your current position will enhance your professional competencies. It is a fundamental development anyone should undergo. Here is a SMART goal you can try to achieve:
“I will get a job as a medical assistant in a local phlebotomy clinic within the next three months. I will continue working for the clinic for at least a year and take the most immediate phlebotomy certification exam after the said first year. I am planning to become a full-fledged phlebotomist within a two-year timeframe.”
7. Become a mentor
Turning into a mentor means that you acquired seniority in a certain position. It signifies the maturity of your skills as a professional and you are now capable of training others. Here is a good way to express this goal:
“Starting tomorrow, I will work one-on-one with the new hire every Monday morning from 9:30 to 10:00 AM to teach him how to operate the company’s content management system. This mentoring program will end until the first Monday of November 2022 or upon a later date determined by the department manager.”
8. Land a promotion
Promotion is one of the most telling key performance indicators that you are succeeding in a career. Vertical career growth mostly happens when superiors recognize your efforts and development after some time. Here is how you present promotion as a SMART goal:
“I will get a promotion from being an administrative officer into an assistant manager by working closely with the current assistant manager and manager for the next six months. I will regularly hone my manager abilities by interacting with internal and external stakeholders and organize their concerns according to the assistant manager and manager’s work standards.”
9. Get a leadership position
Leaders are known to adapt to any situation, especially crises. They should be flexible enough to rise above the challenges and deliver top-tier results. Here is how you may present such an idea as a SMART goal:
“I will enroll myself in one online mindfulness course every quarter to strengthen my mental fortitude and remain calm despite the circumstances. I will attend the classes whenever I am not on duty and spend no longer than two hours per day on a work day.”
10. Be known as a thought leader in your field
Thought leaders function as influencers who provide personalized guidance to others. They use lessons they accumulated as industry leaders to set examples and facilitate continuing education for younger professionals. You can set becoming a thought leader as a SMART goal this way:
“I will post a 500 to 1,000-word article weekly on my personal LinkedIn profile about social media marketing and its impact on modern consumerism. I will start posting in the first week of November 2022 until the last week of December 2022 and check the statistics on the first week of January 2023.”
11. Win an award in your industry
Winning an award pertinent to the industry of your expertise is a compelling validation of your success as a professional. It is a milestone that you need to celebrate. If you are interested in winning an award, you may draft a goal as follows:
“I will aim for the ‘Best Employee of the Month’ award by ensuring that I have perfect attendance all year long and I will accomplish my deliverables on or before the due dates.”
12. Build your own business
Another way to validate your expertise is by starting an independent business. It is one of the most challenging ways to prove yourself, but the results can be highly satisfying. Here is a SMART goal about it:
“I will work with my colleagues to complete at least 50% of the business proposal for the investors within one month. This plan shall contain detailed sections on the business structure and company operations.”
Achieve Your Career Goal One Job Interview at a Time
Drawing on the wisdom of industry experts, we’ve uncovered valuable strategies for achieving your career goals. It’s not only about incorporating these insights into your responses during job interviews but also embracing them in your professional endeavors. By applying these principles diligently, you can extend your reach and achieve milestones beyond your initial aspirations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should my career goals focus solely on the position I’m applying for?
While it’s important to relate your goals to the position, it’s also beneficial to discuss how these contribute to your long-term career aspirations. This shows ambition and a desire for growth within the company.
How do I align my career goals with the company’s objectives?
Research the company’s mission, values, and recent projects. Then, tailor your career goals to highlight how your growth can contribute to their objectives, showcasing a mutual benefit.
Can I mention learning new skills as a career goal?
Absolutely. Highlighting a goal to learn new skills, especially those relevant to the position or industry, demonstrates your commitment to personal and professional development.
Is it appropriate to discuss work-life balance as a career goal?
Yes, it’s increasingly acceptable to mention work-life balance as a goal, especially if you can relate it to improving productivity or job satisfaction. Frame it in a way that shows you understand the value of being a well-rounded and healthy employee.
How specific should I be about my career goals?
Be as specific as possible without being overly rigid. Show that you have a clear direction but are also open to opportunities for growth and development within the company.
In navigating the journey toward achieving your career goals, it’s crucial to adopt a strategic approach. We’ve explored the significance of setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals as a foundational step. This method not only clarifies your objectives but also enhances your ability to track progress and adjust as needed. From learning new skills to seeking leadership roles, each goal can significantly impact your career trajectory, making it essential to articulate these aspirations thoughtfully during interviews.
The journey of career development is ongoing and requires both reflection and action. Implementing the expert tips discussed can set you on a path to not only articulate your career goals with clarity but also achieve them.
You may also consider enrolling in career development courses offered by Skill Success All Access Pass. It provides a wealth of resources to aid in your professional growth. Take the initiative to invest in your career development today and explore the courses that align with your career goals.