Setting a career goal is simple; all you need to do is have a specific target in mind. For example, if a student wants to someday be a Managing Director of a large structural engineering consultancy, they will go through several stages to accomplish this.
The first stage is successfully completing school and attaining their GCSEs. After that, college. After successful completion of their A-Levels, the student would then begin their adventure at university. While studying at university, they might also work in a local consultancy as an intern or in an entry-level position.
Following graduation from university, the individual would then begin their climb on the “ladder” of engineering, increasing their exposure to the various facets this role entails. Through experience, they may then look to pursue chartership. Through a mix of hard work and performance, the individual should over time see their career progress towards their ultimate goal of Managing Director.
Career goals vary from person to person. You may be only looking for ways to advance your current career. This could include getting certified in a new skill, building up your professional network, earning a promotion or starting your own business in the same industry.
Other people may have goals to change their career and profession entirely. For those who want a career change, you'll need to achieve many goals, including networking, additional education and a skills assessment.
To get a realistic handle on what it will take to achieve your career aspirations, create a roadmap outlining the steps you need to take to reach your goals.
Mapping out your goals
When you have defined your career goals, set your mind to accomplishing them. Clearly mapping out your goals makes them easier to focus on and achieve.
Make sure your career goals meet the following criteria:
Measurable. Set a timeframe for your short-term goals as well as your long-term goals, such as completing your business degree within three years.
Realistic. You can achieve these, and have plans in place for how you’ll do so.
Organized into a clear roadmap. Recognize the actions required to complete each step toward your overall goal.
Tips for Setting and Achieving Career Goals
1. Work backward from your end goal.
Begin with your final destination in mind and work backward. Once you know where you want your current position or overall career to go, list out the steps that will take you there.
2. Plan the details.
Divide your main goal up into specific, quantifiable, realistic goals. Add a deadline to each one to keep you on track. The more planning and detail you set in each goal, the greater the likelihood that you will achieve it.
3. Put your goals in writing.
Clearly write down your goals so you can remember them, refer back to them, and hold yourself accountable for accomplishing them. Don't forget to regularly review and update your goals as your ambitions change or anything unexpected comes up, so you can plan accordingly.
4. Get your manager on board.
Employees who discuss their career goals with their manager regularly benefit in the long run. Clearly outline your goals and how they can benefit the company. Don't wait for your annual performance review. Instead, you should discuss this topic frequently so any challenges in meeting goals can be addressed early. Managers can often offer guidance and advice, remove obsticles, or adjust goals so they’re more realistic and attainable.
5. Be proactive.
The key to progress in your career is taking control of it. Is there a promotion you could apply for? Has your boss been dropping hints about expanding the team? Speak to HR and research the steps you should be taking to accomplish your career goals. You don’t want to miss an opportunity that’s right under your nose.
6. Go the extra mile.
To advance your career, you need to demonstrate that you’re engaged in your current role. You can try volunteering to do more, especially if it involves working with others at varying levels and sectors of the organization. Try getting involved with planning company events, annual fundraisers, charity events, anything to build you up within your company and allow you to meet a wider cross-section of employees.
Whatever your position, there are likely an array of certificates you can obtain and a proffessional body or organisation you can join. This will help you meet colleagues, network, and keep updated on industry news and trends.
You cannot control whether you will be hired at a specific organization, but by equipping yourself with a top resume, you will be poised to be a top candidate when exciting jobs become available.
7. Be flexible - you may have to adapt your route.
However carefully you plan, your path is not set in stone and there may well be some detours long the way or even a change of destination. Try to be aware of any obsticles that you may need to overcome and if something unexpected comes up, be prepared to adapt.