Setting Career Goals
There isn't a bad time to think about setting career goals. And by developing a career plan you will be better able to reach the place you want to be professionally.
As you reflect on your current employment, what are some changes you would like to see in the next year? It is best to start broadly when defining your yearly goals. For example: I want to be given more responsibility in my current position, I want a job that allows me to spend more time with my family, or I want to find a job that has more opportunities for growth.
Once you’ve determined your broad goals, then you can plan smaller goals throughout the year. For instance, if you have decided to learn a new skill, you will then plan to take a specific class or ask a specific person for training. All of your goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
One decision that will affect your planning is whether you want to stay in your current position or if you would like to change employment. In both cases, careful planning will be a vital part of your career growth.
Growth in Your Current Position
The current economic market is competitive. That’s why it’s a good idea to consistently set career goals, whether you’ve been in your job for 2 years or 20. By setting and reaching personal career goals you increase your value to both your current employer and potential future employers.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you start brainstorming areas for growth:
- How do I want to grow in my job and in my career throughout the next year?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses? (Perhaps you can refer to a performance review.)
- What contributions and talents do I have that could benefit my team but aren’t being utilized?
- How can I be more efficient?
- How can I improve my interactions with co-workers?
- How can I improve my customer relations?
- Is there a new skill or certification I would like to obtain?
- Is there a project I would like to lead or be a part of?
Once you have identified one or two goals for the next year, write them down or tell someone such as a supervisor or mentor. If a supervisor is aware of your improvement goals, they can be an invaluable resource in receiving new projects and taking advantage of internal professional development opportunities.
When you have reached your goals, don’t forget to record your accomplishments by updating your résumé. It’s important to always have an up-to-date résumé and it feels good to track the progress you’ve made.
Planning a Career Shift
If you are seeking to make a career change, the first step is to decide the new direction you want to pursue. A good place to start is to brainstorm jobs and industries that interest you. Then go to the Occupational Outlook Handbook in the United States, or the Job Bank in Canada. These sites have information about wages and required education and descriptions of a typical day in a variety of career fields. These resources will allow you to research career options that align with your interests and skills. As you are researching, pay attention to related occupations to learn of opportunities you may not have considered before. Another resource for exploring roles and skills you naturally identify with is an LDS Employment Center career assessment. Find an Employment Center near you for more information.
Once you narrow your search to one or two careers you might be interested in, informational interviewing is one of the best tools to help you gather information about potential career fields. Seek out those who currently work in the area you want to learn more about. Reach out through friends and family as well as social media channels. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can search for connections based on their field of employment.
As you establish your new career goal, remember to include the position, industry, and salary level you are working toward. Then make plans to obtain the qualifications you need in order to make the transition. For instance, you may need to go back to school or enroll in a certification program. Once again, the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook and Canadian Job Bank are good resources for this information.
If you are looking for a new employment opportunity in the same field, you probably already know what position, industry, and salary level you would like. The key to your success will be in refined power statements and networking strategies. Many of the same principles already discussed apply from above. Interview key contacts you have in the field and learn about how they got where they are. Make plans for how you will become a competitive candidate and develop connections to help you become aware of new employment opportunities.
Making a career change can have a long-lasting impact on your life. It is comforting to remember that the Lord is invested in your life and will help and direct you through the process of making and achieving career goals.
Elder Richard G. Scott taught, “Father in Heaven knew that you would face challenges and be required to make some decisions that would be beyond your own ability to decide correctly. In His plan of happiness, He included a provision for you to receive help with such challenges and decisions during your mortal life. That assistance will come to you through the Holy Ghost as a spiritual guidance. It is a power, beyond your own capability, that a loving Heavenly Father wants you to use consistently for your peace and happiness” (“To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 6).ce).