How To Express Your Career Goals

Career goals are an important part of retaining the passion for your job. How can you express your career goals to yourself and others?

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Career Goals

Understanding your career goals is key to understanding what to look for in a job, and it helps interviewers understand what you can bring to the table for their company. Whether an interviewer is directly asking you “What are your career goals?” or you’re just trying to set career goals for yourself, follow these tips for thinking about your career development.

What Are Career Goals?

A career goal is simply an end goal. something you want to achieve in your professional life. Whether this goal is to own your own business, assume a leadership role or even learn new skills that will help you in your personal and professional life, these goals are an important part of why you’re even searching for a job in the first place. Although you might want to create these goals to better answer questions in a job interview, an action plan to achieve career goals can be beneficial even outside of the interview.

Elements To Consider When Setting Your Career Goals

When you’re thinking about your career goals, what do you need to be thinking about? The question “What are your career goals?” is a clean slate that needs to be answered in your own words. Each job candidate will set their own career goals. Here are a few things to consider when thinking out your own career goals:

  • Ideal income
  • Job perks
  • Personal autonomy
  • Passion and interest
  • Core skills and best strengths
  • Challenges

In short, you need to think about not only what a happy life looks like to you but also what you’re actually good at doing. This can help you create smart goals. Many people want to change the world, but not everyone should put “build homes in underserved nations” on their career goals. Think about specific goals that are attainable and utilize your existing skill set.


How To Express Your Career Goals in a Resume or Interview

Expressing your career goals to yourself will be different than explaining them to a job interviewer. When you’re trying to answer “What are your career goals?”, you need to be prepared with different ways to phrase these goals. Here are five elements that are important when discussing your career goals with like a hiring manager:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-based
  • Relevant
  • Scheduled

Above all, your career goals need to be achievable and measurable. You need to make sure your goal is something that you’ll know you’ve achieved when you’ve done it. Although one of your personal goals may be “to feel fulfilled,” this isn’t something that works well for your professional goals because it’s too general. You need specific milestones that will showcase your personal development.

It’s also a good idea to have both short-term career goals and long-term career goals. Your ultimate goal is an important one to have in mind, but in some cases, it may take some time before you reach it. If you have some short-term goals that you can achieve in the meantime, it’ll put you on the right track toward professional development that will help you achieve the long-term goals. Part of the roadmap for the long-term goals should be achieving those short-term goals.


FAQ: Career Goals

Q: How do I express career goals that I might have to leave a company for?

It’s never a good idea to tell an interviewer that your goals include leaving the company. No potential employer wants to hire someone who’s just going to eventually leave the company to fulfill a career goal. Instead, distill your goal down to its bare essentials. If your career plan is to start your own business, for example, you may cite the leadership skills and project management skills you hope to develop through the job you’re applying for. Additionally, focus on short-term goals instead of long-term goals.

Q: How long-term should I set my career goals?

While having an ultimate, long-term goal can be exciting, you must be realistic that plans can get altered along the way. Start with a timeframe of the next few years. That way, if you decide to make a career change, you still have some career goals that you’ll likely have already met. Try to have concrete short-term goals but more fluid long-term ones.

Q: How can my weak points help me create career goals?

Weak points are a great way to create your career goals because they can help you determine what areas of your profession you want to work on. If you’re trying to improve your soft skills, you might want to set goals of getting better with teamwork and having your team members appreciate your leadership skills. If you’re able to identify your weak points, you can develop a better understanding of the career path you’re hoping to take.

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