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Set SMART goals to get ahead in your career.

Where would you like to be in one year? In five years? What experiences will help you achieve that? What interests and skills would you like to use in your career? Setting a career goal is about deciding where you want to head in your career, and noting the steps needed to reach that point.

What are examples of typical career goals?

  1. Increase professional knowledge and training. Whether taking a college class, a workshop offered by an employer, getting a certification, or other, this is a common goal. It can be useful both if you are looking for work, or are already employed.
  2. Increase earnings. Being underpaid often detracts from motivation and performance. Making changes to earn more increases enthusiasm for most jobs, and motivates a job search.
  3. Improve low-functioning work processes or relationships. This goal area can make the daily work experience more positive and rewarding.
  4. Have new experiences. Whether volunteering in your community or at work, joining a professional association to meet new people in your field, or introducing yourself to people you never talk with, new experiences fuel interest in your career.
  5. Attain a leadership role. Many people feel their ultimate goal is to lead in their career or organization. Establishing the steps to achieve a leadership role makes it possible.

How to set goals

A popular acronym can help you write effective goals. Try the SMART system for your career goal.

Specific – Aim for a specific, concrete area for your goal or steps. For example, “make ten job search calls following up on my LinkedIn connections” vs. “make some networking connections.”

Measurable – To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: how much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?