Articulating your career goals can make them feel real and attainable, not just to you, but to your supervisors and to other professionals. Talking about your career goals with others is a way to solicit feedback, gain insight and express your hopes and ambitions in a way that can help you effectively track and define your career plans.
Write a career plan. Just like a company formulates a business or marketing plan to help it visualize growth strategies, a career plan can help you evaluate what you want for yourself in both the short and long term.
Get a mentor. A mentor can help you fine-tune your career plans and develop a constructive way to go about achieving your goals. A mentor is a good sounding board who can help you further define what you want to accomplish and decide how to go about doing it.
Develop goals and objectives. Meet with your immediate supervisor and set attainable professional goals and create a timeline for reaching or implementing them. Talking with your boss in subsequent assessments and evaluations will help you verbalize and explain the processes and steps you're going through. It also allows you to judge your efficiency and measure your success.
Ask for feedback. Part of successfully articulating your career goals involves inviting input from others about what you’re saying and doing. While you don’t have to take every piece of advice you get, asking for input shows you’re open and willing to learn, and you might get valuable advice you can use down the road.
Be proactive. Join professional associations and look for business organizations that have young professional groups or networking opportunities for executive hopefuls. These types of organizations often provide forums that encourage discussion of career goals and provide support systems for helping young up-and-comers achieve their goals.
Speak in positive terms about your career goals and objectives, focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t. This approach can help you stay focused and upbeat about directing your career.
- Iowa State University; Creating a Mission Statement, Setting Goals and Developing Strategies; Don Hofstrand
- University of Virginia; Darden School of Business; 7 Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers; Marty Speight October 2012
- Knowledge @ Wharton; Women Executives on Work/Life; Flexibility, Networks, Outside Interests
- Human Resources at UC Berkeley; Goal-Setting; Developing a Vision & Goals for Your Career Plan
- Regularly review and revise your career goals to better reflect where you are personally and professionally.
- Don’t be so focused on talking about your goals that you forget to take tangible action toward achieving objectives. For best results, incorporate measurable steps and time frames into your career plans.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.