Growth Trends for Related Jobs

What Are Common Examples of Career Goals?

careertrend article image

The media bombards us with stories of successful people, who often seem like superheroes. In reality, many industry leaders and public figures began their lives as average people, from normal families and with common educational backgrounds. Most successful people credit their success on setting and accomplishing goals. Career goals examples encompass on-the-job performance and personal needs, and range from simple short-term accomplishments to long-term achievements.

Types of Work Goals

  1. Goals sharpen our focus, give us something to look forward to and help us reach our potential. They enable us to grow, take charge of our lives and succeed in our careers and personal lives. Without career goals, one can land in dead-end, low-paying or unsatisfying jobs, with no way to escape.
  2. A career begins with a dream, the big picture. Before you can set your goals, you must have a clear idea of the career in which you want to succeed. Perhaps you want to become a restaurateur, the mayor of your city or an accountant for a major international firm.

  3. Achieving three types of goals define successful careers: short-term goals, long-term goals and building block goals. Typically, short-term goals take no more than three years to complete. Perhaps you dream of becoming a chemist. Earning a degree in chemistry takes about four years, a long-term goal. But before you can get an education, you must succeed in your first short-term goal, gaining admission to a good university.

  4. Long-term job goals often begin with educational accomplishments, followed by on-the-job accomplishments after you join the workforce. If you just started a job as an entry-level manager, you might set your sights on landing a middle-management job within the next five years.

  5. Building block goals help you advance your career at every level. Each building block adds a little more value to your talents and to you as an employee. If you work as a computer engineer, you might add building blocks by taking continuing education courses to gain expert knowledge of specific technologies. A recent accounting graduate might earn Certified Public Accounting certification as a building block and a professional journalist might join a prestigious journalism association.

Entry-Level Job Goals

Entry-level workers often have a clear idea of their long-term goals, but they must start their careers with a series of short-term goals. A new employee might set a goal to meet and learn the names of all her coworkers. A new worker might strive to improve his performance level during his probationary period.

Entry-level career goals include learning new processes and technologies, expanding upon existing skills and striving for increased responsibilities. A new network specialist might set a goal to memorize the structure of his company’s computer network. An entry-level carpenter who specializes in framing might set her sights on learning how to build roofs. A new customer service representative might volunteer to cover the shifts of vacationing senior employees to further his knowledge.

Since most people learn by doing, entry-level goals should prompt you to step outside your comfort zone. An entry-level nurse who has worked in tandem with an experienced nurse might set a goal to begin working shifts independently. A new marketing manager might set up a meeting with department heads to present an upcoming marketing campaign.

Building Block Goals

Building block job goals come in long-term and short-term forms. They help you gain knowledge, meet people in your field and add prestige to your credentials. A building block goal might be as simple as reading more books about a particular subject or as difficult as earning a college degree.

Building block work goals vary by job, but certain types of goals can advance any type of career. For example, expanding your network of people within your organization, or more broadly within your industry, can help advance your career.

Continuing education is one of the best ways to add building blocks to your career. Depending on your career path, you might need to earn an advanced degree, or simply enroll in a night class to learn a new technology or process. For example, if your company expands its operation into Latin America, you might enroll in a Spanish course. If you work as a licensed practical nurse, you could continue your education to become a registered nurse.

Joining professional organizations, attending conferences, joining committees within your company and making presentations at industry events can serve as building blocks. For instance, if you are an architect, you might set a goal to exhibit photos of your buildings at an upcoming architecture convention. Additionally, keeping your LinkedIn up to date where employers can easily access your skillset, career changes, leadership roles, and work experiences serve as positive building blocks.

Skills that employers may look for are:

  • Public speaking
  • Project management
  • Skills in social media
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership positions
  • Problem-solving
  • Time management skills
  • Excel experience
  • Working well with team members

Building block goals can help you establish yourself independently. For instance, if you are a graphic designer, you can set up a website to showcase your work. If you work as an information technology specialist for a corporation, you might freelance your services on nights and weekends in preparation for a solo career.

Long-Term Career Goals

Long-term career goals are often the easiest to conceive, but rely on achieving building block and short-term goals, as well as other long-term goals, along the way. For example, if you set a long-term goal to become a partner in a law firm, you must earn a bachelor’s degree, attend law school, land a job at a law firm and navigate the firm’s politics for a partnership offer.

Long-term goals vary by field and employer. For example, a purchasing clerk with a goal to work in middle management might earn a promotion by substantially cutting his company’s costs on supplies. An operations manager might earn a promotion by developing a new training program that improves worker efficiency. Within an established organization, gaining the attention of decision makers often takes a long-term strategy to gain the attention you need for advancement.

You can also apply short-term and building block goals to achieve a long-term goal of independence. For example, if you work in the hospitality industry, you might work for a hotel chain for a few years, before buying a bed and breakfast inn. An automobile mechanic might gain experience working for a car dealership, before opening an independent repair shop.

Long-term career goals also apply to your personal life. You might decide to switch careers in your 30s in order to achieve your goal of early retirement. Or, you could achieve numerous short-term money-saving goals in order to reduce your work hours from full time to part time.

Aspects of Professional Development

Success comes in many forms, so your goals should reflect your personal ambitions. You must conduct an honest assessment of what you find most important. For example, some workers value independence over wealth, while others value prestige more than personal time. An honest assessment can produce realistic and achievable goals.

Few people succeed in a vacuum. Success usually requires support from others. We often see super achievers as people who were destined to succeed. But most successful people received the support of their families, coworkers and mentors. Seeking the advice and support of people in your circle can help you set winnable goals.

Career goals require you to meet multiple challenges. For instance, earning a college degree requires attending years of classes, writing papers and completing projects. To succeed in a career, you must continuously set goals that force you out of your comfort zone.

Setting Career Goals

Setting long-term goals requires inner and outward reflection. You must explore the market and understand which types of careers will succeed and which ones will fail. For instance, in today’s market, computer programmers have a brighter future than typewriter repair technicians do.

Long-term goals often seem daunting. However, achieving long-term goals depend upon succeeding in manageable short-term and building block goals. If you focus on the next small goal, while keeping your long-term goals in sight, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Identify your shortcomings and use building-block goals to overcome them. You can often find solutions to your weaknesses through education or seeking others’ advice. The biographies of successful people often reveal personal obstacles, including dyslexia, ADHD, poverty and lack of education, which they had to surmount on their way to achievement.

Following a personal passion offers you the best chance of career success. When setting goals, you must always strive for work-life balance; otherwise you might face burnout and failure. To strike a balance, you must apply long-, short- and building-block goals to your personal life. For example, you might set a goal to finish work every day by 6:00 p.m. in order to enjoy time with family.

Examples of Professional Goals:

  • Developing new skills
  • Creating a personal brand
  • Working within a specific timeframe

Life Goals, KPIs, and Thought Leader

Do you see yourself holding seminars, joining podcasts? Becoming a thought leader may be your new life goal. People who pursue thought leadership are often pursuing their career goals. It may seem strange; however, networking for a new position is helped by becoming a public personality in your field. For example, Chief Data Officers are often asked to participate in industry conferences and podcasts. The experience lets them become known to other companies, especially executive recruitment firms.

KPIs, an acronym for Key Performance Indicators, are metrics. Metrics are quantitative measures. KPIs are often associated with business goals. In my experience, KPIs are often introduced between businesses when one business is hired to provide business services to the other.

For example, your business may make an exercise bike that requires home delivery. Your business enters into a relationship with a local home delivery company. The Key Performance Indicator may be the number of successful deliveries each day. Where success is measured by the number of support calls made within a week of delivery.

Are KPIs important? Yes, key performance indicators can be used strategically to achieve outcomes. For example, a famous rock band traveling from stadium to stadium needed to ensure the stadium staff were prepared. The band could not measure everything at the stadium, so they included a rider to not have any green M&Ms in their dressing room. When they entered their dressing room, they could use the M&Ms as a KPI, a key performance indicator, that the show would be successfully staged.


Michael Evans’ career path has taken many planned and unexpected twists and turns, from TV sports producer to internet project manager to cargo ship deckhand. He has worked in numerous industries, including higher education, government, transportation, finance, manufacturing, journalism and travel. Along the way, he has developed job descriptions, interviewed job applicants and gained insight into the types of education, work experience and personal characteristics employers seek in job candidates. Michael graduated from The University of Memphis, where he studied photography and film production. He began writing professionally while working for an online finance company in San Francisco, California. His writings have appeared in print and online publications, including Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool and Bankrate.

Photo Credits