12 Examples of Career Goals for Professional Growth

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 20, 2022 | Published November 15, 2021

Updated September 20, 2022

Published November 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Setting goals in your professional life can make you a better employee by improving essential skills used in your job. Career goals give you a result to strive for while developing skills, knowledge, and expertise critical to your long-term success. Understanding the kinds of career goals you can create may help you plan your personal and professional development. In this article, we discuss the definition and benefits of creating career goals and identify 12 examples of career goals you can consider.

What are examples of career goals?

Career or professional goals are specific milestones you wish to achieve in your career. You can choose a career goal for the personal growth and satisfaction you receive from accomplishing it or focus on what opportunities it can open for your position. You can also have career goals that benefit the company you work for and improve your promotion or career advancement chances. For example, you can improve your communication skills for your personal growth or set a goal to improve your sales figures, which helps you and your employer.

Related: Goal Statement Examples for Resumes (How-to Guide)

You can set career goals that are short-term or long-term, and it's common to have a mixture of both. You can usually achieve a short-term goal in under six months, whereas a long-term plan may take years to accomplish. Setting your goals using the SMART method can ensure you set yourself up for success. SMART is an acronym for a five-part system for goal-setting. SMART stands for:

  • S = specific

  • M = measurable

  • A = achievable

  • R = relevant

  • T = time-bound

Read more: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

12 examples of career goals

Below are 12 examples of career goals you can use to inspire your own professional growth:

1. Gain a professional certification or higher credentials

A typical career goal many people decide to pursue is gaining a professional certification or higher credentials. The purpose of advancing your education can often result in new job opportunities and increased salary potential. Depending on the training, this can be a short-term or long-term goal. For example, if you're a database administrator, you can upgrade your skills to receive a professional certification. You can also have a degree and work toward your master's degree in your profession. Earning higher credentials can open you to new skills and knowledge to advance your career.

2. Find a mentor

A professional mentor is someone who has achieved that which you are pursuing. They can provide you with career guidance, advice, and an experienced perspective on your career. Often, a mentor can introduce you to various resources, opportunities, and people that can also move your career forward.

To find a well-suited mentor, look in your professional network to others in a position you'd like to have in the future. For example, if you are a manager, asking a COO or CEO for mentorship can be a rewarding experience. Another way to find a mentor is to write mentorship inquiry letters to people you admire in your industry.

Read more: How to Find a Mentor Step by Step

3. Apply for an internship

If you're a recent graduate or looking to change careers, applying for an internship provides you with a chance to see if the career path is for you while gaining hands-on work experience. An internship is typically a short-term position to learn various roles and duties in a career path. For example, as a marketing intern, you can work in several marketing roles to try out multiple responsibilities and tasks to see what you enjoy most. To find an internship position, check with your local college or university career centre.

Read more: Understanding What an Internship Is and How To Get One

4. Improve your time management skills

Another career goal worth pursuing is improving your time management skills. How you direct your time and focus is a critical skill for any position, and learning to be better with your time can directly affect your productivity. There are many ways to improve your time management skills, including taking a class on productivity, using a time management app, or working with a mentor or trusted colleague to improve your scheduling. Learning effective habits can also help by scheduling your day with time blocking or using a calendar or planner to focus your time.

Related: 11 Free and Paid Time Management Tools for Work Efficiency

5. Increase your performance metrics

Most jobs have performance metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs), to measure success in the role. Understanding the metrics used in your position and evaluating your performance can help you create measurable and achievable career goals. For example, you can have sales goals each month. Evaluating your success compared to your goals can push you to meet and exceed these metrics. In addition, improving your KPIs can help with career advancement, such as a promotion, when you can show management you are up to the challenge of meeting your goals by including quantifiable numbers on your resume.

Related: How to Define and Measure a Key Performance Indicator

6. Develop your communication skills

Practical communication skills are vital in every position, and learning to develop your skills can be a great career goal. Consider setting a goal to improve your written and verbal communication skills or focus on your body language and interpersonal skills. When you communicate effectively, you become more efficient, effective, and productive. There are many books, articles, and websites you can read to improve this area, or you can invest in a formal class or online course. Another option is to be aware of how you communicate with others. For example, develop a habit of proofreading every email before sending it.

Read more: How To Improve Communication Skills

7. Reduce distractions

Reducing distractions and staying focused on the task at hand can be a worthy career goal to pursue. Dealing with unnecessary distractions throughout your workday decreases productivity, accuracy, and efficiency, causing more work and more significant effort. Create a habit of minimizing potential distractions by using a schedule or calendar to keep track of your time. You can set your online profile to "do not disturb" during peak hours when you get your best quality of work done. You can also develop a habit of checking your email once a day to stay focused on other vital tasks.

8. Enhance your networking skills

When you improve your networking skills, you have the opportunity to connect with other professionals in your industry that can support your career growth. There are many ways to increase your network, such as attending workshops and conferences, participating in industry-related forums, and joining online networking groups. Expanding your connections can introduce you to other professionals, learning opportunities, and potential career openings. You can even consider networking within your own company to better learn about the various departments and expertise available to you.

Read more: Top 5 Networking Skills and How To Develop Them

9. Learn a new technology, tool, or program

Another career goal that can benefit you in your current role or future positions is to learn a new technology, tool, or program. With the advancement of technology creating many innovative tools, learning the latest device or program can provide you with a competitive advantage over your peers.

Staying current with the latest trends and information is a critical skill attractive to many employers. You can enroll in a class or training program to learn about an upcoming program used in your role or industry. Bringing this information back to your current position can benefit your company and make you more productive and efficient.

10. Offer to be a mentor for someone else

Becoming a mentor for someone junior to your position can be a worthy career goal to master your skills. You master what you teach, and providing mentorship can help you focus on your strengths and identify your weaknesses. In addition, supporting the next generation of industry experts can provide personal satisfaction and help you achieve higher goals. Being a mentor also improves your communication, interpersonal, and training skills while developing leadership abilities. Begin by offering your expertise to new employees or junior positions looking to advance their skills.

Read more: How To Be a Good Mentor

11. Become an expert

Another worthy career goal is to become an expert in your field or on a specific topic. Being an expert means learning everything there is to know about a particular area and having the experience to support it. This is often a long-term goal that includes other purposes, such as obtaining professional certification or higher credentials. When you become an expert in something, you gain a reputation for your expertise. In addition, your expertise may allow you to train others, speak in public about your topic, or work in new positions that require your knowledge.

Related: Career Planning Examples (With Template)

12. Increase your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, and manage your feelings and the emotions of those around you. Developing your emotional intelligence is a critical factor in developing strong relationships with others. When you learn how to handle your feelings, you can communicate more clearly and build rapport, trust, and confidence with your colleagues. There are many resources online and through books that teach the principles of emotional intelligence.

Related: How to Improve Emotional Intelligence (With 10 Steps)

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