The Complete Guide to Career Goal Setting

When was the last time you set a career goal? Sometimes, it’s easy to get complacent when you have a good, steady job and fail to set goals. But that’s never advisable. When you have proper goals to strive for, you’ll find you’re much happier. Plus, you’ll find that you’re more successful in your job and your career as a whole. 

Of course, simply saying you’ll set a career goal and leaving it at that doesn’t often work. It’s too vague, too abstract. It’s important to think critically about setting career goals so that you actually achieve success.  

Here’s something that may surprise you: Oftentimes, setting a career goal is more important than actually achieving the goal. That may sound strange, but think about it. When you have a goal to strive for, it gives you a sense of direction. It may not matter as much as you think whether you achieve the goal itself. It’s the journey that benefits you as much as the achievement itself.  

What are the benefits of setting career goals? How do you do it? Let’s take an in-depth look at the process of setting goals for your career and how it can benefit you. 


What Are The Benefits of Setting Career Goals?

You may wonder what the point of setting goals is at all. What if you just completed your daily tasks, did your best, and let your career take you where it takes you?  

While there’s nothing wrong with a little spontaneity, there are many benefits to setting career goals for yourself. Some of the advantages of this approach are: 

  • It gives you direction. Without specific goals, you don’t have much of a direction to your career. You’re simply wandering through it aimlessly. And if that’s how you want to approach it, you’re more than welcome to. But don’t expect to achieve success and advance in your career without setting concrete goals. 
  • It helps you earn more. Whether you’re advancing in the ranks or learning a new skill set to snag that promotion, setting career goals ultimately helps you earn more money. That’s something almost everyone can get behind. 
  • You’ll have more motivation. Find yourself lacking motivation at work? Set a career goal. Giving yourself something to strive for every day simply feels good—you’ll feel like your job has a purpose, rather than just being a number on a list.  


Are There Different Types of Career Goals?

Yes, there are many different types of career goals. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your goals have to fall into a specific category or align with others’ career goals.  

Your career goals might involve a promotion, moving up in the ranks and gaining experience and influence at your company. On the other hand, your goals might have nothing to do with rank or money. Perhaps you simply want to find a career that brings you joy, or helps you get out from under your oppressive boss. Maybe you want to find a job and career that gives you time outside of work to focus on what you’re passionate about, whether it’s your family or a side hustle.  

There are short-term and long-term goals, too. And those timeframes can be as short or long as you want them to be. Short-term goals can be as short as daily goals—what you will achieve this particular day at work, for example. Or, short-term goals could be over the next month, half-year, or year. Then there are long-term goals, like those you set to achieve over the next year or five years. It all depends on your circumstances and what you want to achieve out of your career. 


40 Years of You're Hired!


How to Set Your Career Goals

We’ve learned that there are various benefits to setting career goals, and that there are all sorts of different goals that you may decide to set for yourself. The question is… how do you set career goals in such a way that it really works?  

Break it down for yourself so that it’s easier. There are five steps you can take, every time, to set a career goal for yourself: self-assess, brainstorm, research, get a new perspective, and set the goal.  



Think of this step as taking stock of where you are right now. What kind of position are you in? What are your current skills and interests? What traits do you possess that serve you well in your career? What is your work history like? 

With all of that in mind, think about where you want to go. Is there a particular type of job you’d like to secure? A certain salary? A new skillset? A new career field entirely? Write down these items so that you have them top-of-mind for the next step.  



Now, it’s time to use the information you came up with in the self-assessment phase—thinking about where you are now and where you’d like to end up—to brainstorm some options. What kind of jobs would allow you to use your interests and skillset? What would you like be doing a year from now?  

You can even take career quizzes (widely available online) or speak to a career counselor if you’d like. These options are great ways to learn more about a potential career field or particular jobs in your field. 



Now that you’ve written down some options of where you want to take things with your career goals, it’s time to do some research. Using the internet to learn more about certain positions or fields is always a good option. Learn more about where you want to go, and a clear picture will start to emerge of how to get there.  

Say you want to get a promotion to a management position in your field. Do some research to learn about the job requirements for a manager in your industry; what the typical salary looks like; what the day-to-day responsibilities are. You’ll be surprised how quickly a path to reaching your goal starts to emerge.  

Online research isn’t your only option, of course. You can try talking directly with people in the field, or connecting with a staffing firm like BOS Staffing to learn about a career field you’re interested in. 


Get Perspective

When setting your career goals, it’s sometimes helpful to get a new perspective outside of your own. There are various ways you can do that. Say you’re thinking of exploring a new career field that you’d like to be a part of in the next year. Volunteering in that field, or taking on an internship, or talking to someone in the field are all good options. You can even seek out a mentor in your chosen field who can give you an insider’s perspective. 


Set Your Goal

By now, you’ve assessed yourself and what you’d like to achieve, brainstormed some options, done research, and gained new perspectives. You’re ready to set your goal. 

Perhaps your career goal is now clear. Even if it is, it’s wise to put some parameters on it. And one way to do that is with the SMART goal-setting system. SMART stands for: 

    • Specific: Don’t make your goal too abstract or vague. Ask yourself specifically what you want to achieve and orient your goal around that. For example, rather than saying “I want to make more money this year,” say “I want to make three dollars more per hour this year.” 
    • Measurable: How can your goal be measured? In numbers? Time? Make it measurable so that you can check in on your progress throughout the process. 
    • Attainable: While it’s always great to shoot for the stars, make sure your goal is attainable at the same time. Be realistic about your goal; make it something you’re sure you can achieve. Otherwise, you’ll be left feeling disappointed.
    • Relevant: Make your goal relevant to your overall career trajectory, even if it doesn’t have something to do with your career itself. For instance, if your goal is to spend less time working so that you can spend more time with your family, set a measurable, specific goal of how much you’d like to cut back at work. Relate your actions to your goal, or else it won’t get you very far.
    • Time-bound: Goals without a timeframe are too easy to give up on, or never complete. Set a hard date when your goal will be achieved, and try setting check-in points along the journey to track your progress. 


Reaching Your Career Goals

Now that you’ve defined and set your career goals, it’s time to work on them. And remember: In some cases, the journey to get there is just as important as achieving the goal itself. If you don’t achieve it but learn important things along the way, then it was worth it.  

If you’ve set a SMART goal, you’ll be able to track your progress and aim for your goal in a specified time frame. All that’s left to do is put in the work and do your best.  



Setting career goals for yourself gives you direction, it motivates you, and it benefits you financially and otherwise. And while career goals can take all sorts of different forms, your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Do that, and you’ll find yourself on the path to success sooner rather than later.  

If you’re in the market for a new job or career in Georgia, trust the experts at BOS Staffing. Get in touch with a member of our team today to learn more about what we offer.  

40 Years of You're Hired!

15 Reasons to Explore a Career in Administration and Customer Service

15 Reasons to Explore a Career in Administration and Customer Service

Exploring a career in administration or customer service is an excellent decision if you are looking for a career with…
Break Into Finance with These 6 Hot Financial Career Options

Break Into Finance with These 6 Hot Financial Career Options

If you have a knack for numbers and math, then pursuing a career in finance is a smart career choice.…
Legal Jobs You'll Love (Without a Law Degree)

Legal Jobs You'll Love (Without a Law Degree)

Plenty of legal jobs do not require you to graduate from law school. They will let you pursue your passion…