6 Common Career Goals Examples

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Examples of Goals for Work

The examples of goals for work for employee performance and development purposes in the succeeding sections follow the SMART goals guidelines. As a reminder, SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. These are the attributes that each goal should contain. It takes practice because the general tendency has been to write vague statements for employee performance review purposes because they take less thought and require less commitment. SMART goals are precise as to what employees at any level should strive to accomplish.

SMART goals apply to employees or leadership, so obviously, the specific goals will be geared towards the individual’s role and level in your organization. Though development goals are usually broader than performance goals because they include striving for responsibility and positions outside the current job, they should still be SMART.

One of the many advantages of writing SMART goals is that it also makes it easier to identify how employees are accomplishing their work and how they will pursue goals since this is a collaborative process between the employee and supervisor. Following are some examples of goals for work divided into two major categories: performance goals and development goals.

6 career goals examples

1. Advance to a leadership position

Your specific path toward a leadership role greatly depends on your industry and where you’re starting out, and it can take many years to accomplish. Along the way, you may aim to accomplish some of these goals:

Short-term goals: Gain necessary experience with entry- and mid-level positions, attend leadership trainings, set up informational interviews with potential mentors and team leaders, network with cross-functional colleagues

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: Currently, I’m working on a project to unify our internal analytics processes across data analysis, data science, and data engineering departments by liaising with representatives from each department to identify and address pain points. I’m also attending weekly leadership training sessions to build my managerial skills as I build the skills I need to ultimately become a Director of Analytics.

2. Become a thought leader

Thought leaders exist in many areas within every industry, and their knowledge base can be expansive or niche. Depending on the type of thought leader you envision yourself becoming, you may aim to accomplish some of these goals:

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I’ve been taking online courses in social work from the University of Michigan to strengthen my knowledge base as I work with community organizers toward our team goals, and I’m sharing our progress by writing for our company blog. In the next couple of years, I’m hoping to apply for Michigan’s MSW program to make an even stronger impact on our company and community.

3. Work toward personal development

Personal development, as it relates to your career goals, is all about bringing the best version of yourself to your career. When talking about any of the following, remember to connect them back to the work you’re doing for your organization:

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I’d like to be seen as a valued connector within our organization, so I’ve been meeting with people in different departments to figure out how our lean IT team might better respond to their needs. Over the next few months, I’d like to lead more formal research into the matter and pilot a new request ticketing system.

4. Shift into a new career path

It can be tricky to talk about a desire to change careers during a performance review. You don’t need to share every detail of your career goal with your manager; it’s okay to stick to the transferable skills that you are building. Here are some things you may work toward as you approach a career change:

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I envision myself as a strong communicator and I’d like to be selected to help with our team’s presentation during the next annual report meeting. To build my skills, I’ve been writing monthly progress recaps and distributing them on our team’s Slack channel. I’m also practicing my PowerPoint skills in an online Microsoft 365 Fundamentals Specialization.

5. Experience career stability

If your career goals aren’t your central life goals, you may be more focused on career stability rather than growth. Having a job that supports your broader life goals can be crucial. If you are working toward career stability, some of your goals may be:

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: My goal is to be seen as a strong colleague whom others view as reliable and attentive. I’ve been trying to welcome our newer coworkers by making myself available for any questions that come up about our processes and have been compiling their inquiries into an employee playbook that they can reference and share.

6. Create a career goal

Goals tend to shift over time as we learn more about ourselves and the world around us, and it’s likely that there will be times when you aren’t sure what your goal is. Not only is that normal, but it’s also a great time to explore your interests and think about your priorities in life. Here are some aims to consider:

Short-term goals: Attend seminars and training sessions, take a class, explore a hobby, learn a new skill, research various career paths, request informational interviews, network with people in different industries, find a career coach

“What are your career goals?” sample answer: I recently earned my psychology degree and am rediscovering my love of design, so I’m currently exploring ways to integrate both into my career. I’ve started taking introductory UX design courses and reading popular UX blogs, and I’m hoping to connect with some UI designers within the company over the next few months to hear more about their experiences and responsibilities.