Every self-help book on career development recommends setting goals before doing anything. It may be a redundant tip, but it works all the time. After all, having goals in mind sharpens focus and makes you accountable for your progress.
But do not just pin random goals and run with them. Your career development goals should be thorough and intentional. Since the future will be uncertain, you can use said goals to keep you motivated throughout various changes.
This step will benefit any professional regardless of career path. There are many ways to succeed but setting personal goals is one of the steps you should not miss.
What are career development goals?
Career development goals are not strictly limited to milestones that will help climb the corporate ladder. They also include objectives that trigger positive reactions from you to improve your job and become more competitive. These goals should give you well-rounded support throughout different aspects of your career.
There are different examples of career goals. Some are short-term, while others are long-term. When you utilize each type carefully, they can build on each other and help you transition smoothly into different career development stages.
Most importantly, remember that career development goals differ per individual. If your plans are not similar to the others, it is okay. Every career trajectory is unique. Always choose the ones that feel right for you.
Why is it important to have career development goals?
There are many reasons why setting career development goals is essential. Primarily, it keeps you organized. Having specific results in mind will help you identify the necessary next steps. It is easier to build a roadmap after pinning a final destination.
Another crucial factor in identifying your goals is knowing what gaps need filling. Then, when you decide on your dream career, you will realize what else is lacking. Perhaps, you need to work on particular skills or grow your professional network.
Having career goals also prompts you to know about competitors, too. Getting acquainted with people who share the same goals as you will work to your advantage. Some competitors can be allies who will support your growth, while others are best not to cross paths with.
Top 5 career development goals for 2022
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an additional 372,000 professionals found employment in June 2022. Career development opportunities seem promising as the United States is gradually coming out of the pandemic.
The recent developments make it ideal to pursue the following career goals during the remainder of 2022:
1. Set professional development goals
2022 will continue the trends for remote and hybrid working options. This development opens for a greater diversity of jobs and work setups. People in the marketplace dub the current situation the “gig economy” as professionals turn into self-employment and prefer contractual or one-off arrangements.
This year will mark a revolutionary change for career development. You can keep up by drafting a clear and well-studied career plan. Then, identify the goals that suit your lifestyle, needs, and interests now that the job market has changed.
An efficient way to draft plans is through SMART Goal Setting. It is a five-step model developed by George T. Doran. It helps professionals set winnable goals and choose the corresponding steps to achieve them.
Another practical approach to setting goals is designing an actionable career plan. Your career plans should always be functional and adaptable. Nowadays, professionals should be adjustable to the hyperactive societal changes.
2. Earn more credentials
The job marketplace has always been a resume game, even before the pandemic. Hiring managers are keen on what applicants exhibit in their resumes, especially credentials. Numerous high-value credentials will most likely bump an applicant to the interview list.
In 2022, many companies are looking for professionals who possess the following credentials:
- PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification
- Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)
- IIBA Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA)
- Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate
- IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate
- AWS Certified Data Analytics
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- Certified Information Systems Auditor
- Vmware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization
- Cisco CCCNP Enterprise Certification
- Azure Network Engineer Associate Certificate
Fortunately, many of these credentials are not exclusive to particular industries or graduates of specific college degrees. Unlocking any of these will expand a person’s professional capacity.
3. Maintain work-life balance
Work-life balance is about setting boundaries between personal and professional aspects of life to attain holistic satisfaction. It is the best solution against burnout and other physical and mental difficulties caused by work.
Achieving a work-life balance is a tough challenge, especially post-2022. Since many people work in the comfort of their homes, it becomes harder to separate work from personal life. In addition, there is no standard for a work-life balance. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to it.
Developing and maintaining a work-life balance involves a lot of work, but it is a modern need that every professional should fulfill. Working hard is essential for career development, but pushing yourself too far can be harmful. The damages inflicted upon yourself can even lead to irreversible consequences.
4. Enhance digital literacy
Digital literacy is the level of education and expertise in accessing, utilizing and sharing information through digital technologies. It is assessable through the users’ ability to manipulate computers, smartphones, social media, and other internet platforms.
A study revealed that digital literacy is redefining today’s minimum job qualifications. On top of regular job qualifications, companies often add ICT-related knowledge and skills as a requirement for their applicants. As everything becomes more data and internet-based, this trend is an organic shift towards a digitalized society.
Fortunately, there are different faces of digital literacy. Some are focused on programming, design, and communications. Fortunately, there are several ways to incorporate digital literacy into any area of expertise. High-level digital literacy will give a professional better flexibility at work.
5. Learn new skills
Similar to credentials, skills also make a professional’s resume more attractive to hiring managers. Having numerous relevant and top-class skills will also boost one’s progress in career development.
The value of skills drastically changed after the pandemic, too. In 2021, LinkedIn had a 21% increase in job postings focusing more on skills and responsibilities. Previously, the trend was about technical qualifications and requirements, like being a graduate of a specific college program.
While technical qualifications and requirements still matter, they are no longer the be-all and end-all of hiring. Applicants who plan on building their skillset can learn from online platforms like Skill Success, which hosts career development courses. Learning university-grade skills is no longer confined in an academic training format.
How to achieve your career development goals
A Harvard Business Review article explains that achieving career development goals is a retroactive process. Start with an end in mind and backtrack to fill in the missing pieces. This strategy is timeless and proven. If you subscribe to this tactic, here are steps helpful to realizing your career goals:
1. Research before setting professional development goals
Setting the groundwork for your career development journey is as important as the following steps. One of the best ways to prepare is to gain knowledge about the professional goals you are interested in undertaking. Since research could take a lot of time, only look for relevant matters.
Scope the job marketplace. Determine what jobs are best suited for you and their availability. Then, study what you need to fulfill to have a fighting chance to advance in a particular career.
According to Flexjobs, a popular job hosting platform, professionals should also observe growth trends. It will help render a realistic look at career paths. Research statistics like the success and profitability rates of your desired careers before making a decision.
2. Polish your communication skills
Most workplaces are evolving into becoming less rigid and bureaucratic. As a result, the need for only a few figurehead skilled communicators ends. However, companies will eventually demand all their employees to be competent communicators.
More so, the communication style in businesses is transitioning into unified communications. Because of this, employees need to expand their repertoire of communication skills to include proficiency in using streamlined interfaces.
Communication is also among the top soft skills companies look for in applicants. It is not a recent discovery, but soft skills are currently overtaking hard skills. Companies are more interested in employees who can be flexible in different situations because hard skills are trainable. Becoming a good communicator will serve as a base for building more intrapersonal skills.
3. Expand your network
Career development is not only an internal development. Portions of it focus on external growth as well. One critical growth that professionals should never forget about is networking.
Getting to know more people will get you to more places. Even if you exclusively offer your services to a company or specific clientele, having connections with others is still significant. In addition, you may use your linkages to gain better resources for particular events and job opportunities.
Building good relationships with others is beneficial for professionals. Your goal is not to get into everybody’s good side. Instead, you would want to establish a good name for yourself. Having amicable relationships with diverse people means more people coming from different backgrounds could vouch for you and your work ethic.
Tip: Regularly attend networking events like trade shows, career fairs, and team building activities.
4. Explore new challenges in your role
Do not forget to look at the things that you currently have. Have a thorough assessment of yourself before moving into another career. Then, if you wish to stay in the same job or industry, investigate what you can repurpose and improve to make yourself a better professional.
Explore challenges. If you were holding back on some activities or tasks because you feared failing them, try them again. Often, newbies do not have the skills and experience to be good at their jobs. However, if you have been in the same position for longer, you must have developed into a more capable practitioner.
If you are still not comfortable with facing new challenges, take a few career development courses to build your confidence. Try to expand your knowledge and skill base to make challenges less intimidating.
5. Track your progress
Career development is a meticulous process. It is beyond completing tasks and meeting new people. Instead, it combines multiple factors to say you have grown as a professional. For this reason, you have to be thorough with tracking your progress.
Set parameters and indicators that are relevant to your line of work. After knowing what measures your professionality, determine the best time to check on your progress. Personal assessments vary from one person so another. Asking a supervisor or peer to review your progress can also be helpful.
Besides measuring your growth, setting trackers is also a way to remind yourself that you are progressing. In the pursuit of greatness, people sometimes forget their achievements. So from time to time, do not forget to give yourself credits for a job well done.
Next-level career development
2022 is the year of recovery and renewal. Since the opportunities for professional development are rising, it is the perfect year to make professional advancements.
Career planning will be critical in developing a guided perspective while growing professionally. However, do not trick yourself into thinking there is a perfect career development strategy. There are many ways to maximize your chances of achieving your goals, but not a single one will work for everybody.
Focus on choosing the path that works best for you. Every professional is unique and faces unique struggles. It is perfectly fine if your success story does not have the same plot as others.