Many people have been asked in interviews or performance reviews, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What are your career goals?” Both are good questions that can be difficult to answer. Like any progressive action, if you do not have a clear focus of where you want to go, it will be difficult to know if or when you get there.
Here are seven steps to manage your career goals:
1. Be creative with your career goals.
Not all career goals involve a promotion. While examples of goals may be a job status or title you want to hold or an amount of money you want to make, they can also include recognition in your field or industry, an achievement you aspire to complete, a benefit or perk you would like to attain, a level of freedom you want to acquire, or even a challenge or obstacle you would like to overcome.
2. Set SMART career goals.
Those with planning experience are likely familiar with the SMART acronym:
– specific with details so you can determine the best path to take
– measurable so you can determine if it was achieved
– achievable so you are optimistic but also realistic about what you can accomplish
– relevant so it ties to your experience and abilities
– timely so you can plan your efforts accordingly.
3. Document your career goals.
An Inc. article recounted a study on goal setting
led by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews. The bottom line? Participants who wrote down their goals were 42 percent more likely to achieve them! The practice forces you to think strategically and serves as a published reminder of what you want. For some people, seeing their own handwriting instead of a typed document may personalize the process.
4. Divide your career goals.
As described in a 2020 Forbes article about highly successful people
, it is equally important to “focus on the process, not the outcome.” Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy recommends dividing your overarching goal into a series of daily or weekly goals that are easier to achieve. This manageable milestone approach builds momentum and allows for incremental celebration.
5. Research your career goals.
Whether you give the credit to Sir Francis Bacon or Thomas Jefferson, “Knowledge is power.” The more information you have about what you want to achieve, the more likely you are to achieve it. This could include salary data, information about training, continuing education, or certifications, industry trends, or workplace trends. Research can come from published sources as well as credible professionals with whom you interact.
6. Ask for assistance with your career goals.
If you would like to achieve your career goals at your current organization, request a meeting with your manager or utilize your next performance review to share your goals and ask for advice and suggestions on how to proceed. If you plan to leave your current position as part of your career goal, reach out to a contact outside of your organization who may be able to act as a mentor or career coach.
Relationships are very important as you grow your career so remember to build your network of contacts through social platforms, such as LinkedIn, as well as through conferences and networking events (whether they be virtual or in person).
7. Be flexible with your career goals.
Business can change due to the emergence of new technologies, and organizations are often evolving and sometimes restructuring. There are new trends and advancements within most industries and people change as time goes on. It is advised to be adaptable with your expectations and flexible with what you hope to achieve. Additionally, new opportunities you did not anticipate may be presented, causing a career reset.
Perhaps this post has provided some motivation to develop or improve your career goals. If you have questions about career development or are looking for new talent at your organization, please contact us
to connect with a Helbling search consultant.