Be Clear About Your Career Goals

At 26, Rochelle was determined to be a success at the Pharmaceutical firm that she worked at for the last 5 years. She started off in finance, then moved to marketing, and for the last year she worked administration. In the last three months, she had applied for two positions and had been turned down for both opportunities. After she was turned down from the last position, Rochelle requested a meeting with the Human Resources Manager to ask for feedback.

The HR Manager explained that both of the managers that had interviewed her felt she lacked clarity in her career path and had no real goals. “I was told that I left the impression that I just wanted to jump from job to job, without any specific goal or clear reason. Upon reflection I came to the conclusion that I had not linked my career path with my skills, passion, or readiness for movement. I felt that if I was not happy or challenged so it must be time to move and if I was moving from job to job I would appear successful. Instead I created confusion for myself and everyone else”.

Rochelle made the decision to sit down to determine her career goals and aspirations, and then share this information with her manager before making her next move. Her manager was able to help her gain insight into what action steps she needed to take before she made her next move.

Reflect on the career development opportunities that may apply to you. What is/are the ...

  • Next logical upward move?
  • Lateral or cross-functional moves?
  • Enriching your current role?
  • Mentoring, training, stretch assignments?
  • Brand new career path?

For each possibility, ask yourself…

  • Am I ready? If not, when?
  • What are the skills, knowledge or experience required to make me ready?
  • What are the benefits to me in doing this?
  • What are the obstacles, risks or tradeoffs?

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

As you set career goals, review them as S.M.A.R.T goals and activities to evaluate whether you are achieving them.

Specific - What specific actions are needed to achieve the goal?

Measurable - How exactly will you measure your success against plan?

Achievable - Is your plan within your capabilities if you stretch a little?

Relevant - Does the plan fit your skills, experience, knowledge and interests—and the current and future needs of your current employer?

Time-based - Does your plan include milestones and completion dates?


Sharing Your Goals

To reach your career goals you will need to enlist the support of others. Considering the points below to prepare for a conversation with your manager, mentor or teacher about your career goals and direction.

1. Frame the conversation
2. Discuss current role or position in your career journey
3. Share career goals
4. Ask for feedback and support
5. Determine next steps