Do you want to excel at work, climb the corporate ladder, and earn more money?
If so, you will need to set professional goals.
Work goals accelerate your professional growth, which increases your value in the marketplace. The more value you provide, the more opportunities and rewards you will get.
But what are good work goals to set?
This article covers the best professional goal examples for you to achieve career success.
So let’s dive in!
First, what are professional goals?
Professional goals are the objectives you set to achieve in your career. For example, think about learning specific skills, salary increases, job promotions, or crushing business targets.
Setting goals is essential to increase your chance of success.
Why? Here are some of the benefits:
- Provides clarity and direction
- Improves your decision-making
- Increases motivation
- Sharpens your focus
- And more personal satisfaction
But where do you start?
Here are ten of the best professional goal examples to inspire you to set your own.
#1: Grow your network
Today, networking fills more vacancies than job boards. In other words, building relationships is essential in your career.
But not only for job opportunities.
Networks benefit you in many different ways. For example, your network can serve as a source for potential clients, speaking engagements and other surprising benefits.
That’s why you should set networking goals and here are some examples:
- Visit an industry conference within the next six months
- Connect with five new people on LinkedIn this week
- Spend 15 minutes per day providing value within industry groups (think about Facebook groups or any other place where people of your interests hang out)
- Host a learning session in your area for free this month
- Start a podcast and interview experts in your space
There are many different ways to gain exposure. And the best way is to get yourself out there and provide value without expecting anything in return.
#2: Develop specific skills
The marketplace is always looking for people with skills that can solve problems.
So if you want to advance your career, you need to identify what skills are in high demand in your industry. And then develop these kinds of skills.
Here are some examples of goals to set:
- Complete a course on a topic of interest
- Practice a new skill for 30 minutes each day for a month
- Spend 10% of your working time on professional development every week (and keep track of it)
- Sign up for a test and make passing it your goal
Besides your specific industry-related skills, there are many different skills you could learn. Here are some useful ones:
- Public speaking
- Time management
- Project management
- Computer skills and programming
- Communication, both written and verbally
- Self- and stress management
Pick the skill that could lift your career the most and set professional goals for that area.
#3: Improve your communication skills
Improving your ability to understand someone’s point of view increases your effectiveness. It will improve your relationships and your ability to influence.
Communication is an essential skill to develop and includes:
- Active listening by paying focused attention
- Empathy before trying to make your own point
- Sharing feedback constructively
- Receiving feedback with openness and curiosity
- Spoken and written communication in the broadest sense: how can you get your point across effectively
If you want to improve your listening skills. How can you set up professional goals around these soft skills?
A great way is to ask your colleagues to fill out a feedback survey. Ask questions like, rate me on a scale of 1-10, in which a 10 means you highly agree with the statement:
- I pay attention to you when you speak
- I pay attention to others when they speak
- I often understand the points you’re trying to make
- I try to understand others before making my own points
- I listen more than I speak
You can periodically send a survey like this to the same people. Twice a year would be a reasonable frequency. And the more people you can get to fill out your survey, the more objective it becomes.
When you get the initial score, you can set a goal to improve your scores by 10%.
Tip: make the survey easy to fill out for other people. That will encourage them to provide you with this valuable feedback.
#4: Become an expert within the company
Did you spot a knowledge gap in your company? Then, setting professional goals to fill that gap establishes you as the go-to person.
It sets you apart within the company.
This can lead to more career opportunities and put you in a good position in future salary negotiations.
Becoming the go-to expert also has many other benefits. For example, people come to you for advice, which you can leverage to expand your network.
While this may seem challenging to do, it’s not so challenging if you develop the habit of proactivity.
To do so, here’s a challenge for you for this week:
Find a way to pick up something outside your routine tasks at work. In other words, look for a way to go the extra mile.
If you look for ways to provide more value every week than your job describes, you will develop the habit of proactivity.
Being proactive will lead to more opportunities too. And once you find an area you would like to become an expert in, learn everything you can about it.
#5: Become the expert in your field
Becoming an industry expert enables many opportunities like speaking engagements, job offers, and potential clients.
Both you and your company can benefit from it.
Of course, if you lack expertise and experience, you may want to become an expert in your company first but if you feel like you can provide value to your space, it’s an excellent time to contribute and build some good habits.
Here are some professional goal examples:
- Learn something new about your field every week
- Share your weekly insights through the platforms where your industry hangs out most often
- Provide value in groups, forums and on social media
- Set a daily goal to respond to every question, direct message, and other requests you receive
- Set a monthly plan to host a small event where you teach the topic
Avoid seeking recognition or earning money from your gigs. Instead, your goal should be to:
- Learn as much as possible about your topic
- Communicate freely about your expertise
- Build your network
- Develop the confidence to share your ideas
- Provide as much value as possible (without expecting anything in return)
Becoming an industry expert is a big professional goal to set but the most challenging goals are often also the most rewarding.
#6: Improve a specific process
Ever asked, “why do we do it this way?” and got the answer, “because we have always done so.”?
That’s an excellent opportunity for you.
Improving processes is an essential part of any business. And if you spot an opportunity to do so, you can provide lots of value.
For example, if your organization is struggling to get a hold of who’s on holiday, when, and how long, then Leave Dates is an excellent tool to improve that process.
Here are some other ideas for you to set professional goals around:
- Review your work and monitor how much time you spend in various areas to see how you can improve
- Track the time of a process that your team performs to gain awareness of any bottlenecks
- Suggest improvements to how recurring meetings are run – to reduce their duration or make them more effective
- Set a proactive goal to understand the end-to-end process of something you are working on and come up with improvement ideas.
Many of these suggestions require a proactive approach but if you find ways to improve processes at work you’ll certainly make yourself more valuable in the marketplace.
#7: Improve your time management skills
Time is the most valuable resource, and almost no one has enough of it.
In addition, most people are easily distracted by what is urgent and forget about the essential tasks.
That’s why time management is so important. Here are some professional goal examples of setting for yourself:
- Set monthly professional goals for your personal growth and specific projects you want to finish
- Spend half an hour to plan your week, and make sure you plan 80% of your time for the most important projects
- Spend 5 to 10 minutes to plan your day
- Create a priority list for a week
- Every week, prioritise your tasks by defining what is important, urgent, and neither of those. Focus 80% of your time on the most important items
Setting goals in this area improves your awareness of how you spend your time, which is essential to mastering it.
#8: Become a mentor
How awesome would it be to achieve your goals while helping others achieve theirs?
Becoming a mentor not only benefits others, but it benefits you too.
What makes a good mentor? Here are the skills you will need to learn:
- Communication skills
- Giving constructive criticism
- Guiding others without giving them the answers
- Encouraging responsibility in others
- And you will need empathy too
Besides becoming more valuable to the company, you will also learn a lot. Mentoring someone can prove to be a great challenge but a rewarding one.
#9: Improve your resume
If you’re looking for a new job or career, one of the best professional goals is to upgrade your resume.
The more it stands out, the higher your chances of landing an interview.
A great way to achieve this goal is with the help of a job or resume coach. The feedback they provide helps you understand how much you’re improving.
But if you want to do it yourself, here are some professional goals you could set to improve your resume:
- Take a resume writing course this month and improve your resume afterwards
- Find twenty resume layouts this week for inspiration
- Experiment with different headers
- Tailor your resume to the specific job
The last tip especially will make you stand out from most other applicants. So make it a goal to tailor every resume that you send.
#10: Land your dream job
One of the biggest professional goals you may want to achieve in your life is getting your dream job. The challenge is that these goals often feel daunting and scary.
Dissect your big and hairy professional goal into smaller chunks.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Write down your audacious goal
- What do you need to achieve within the next 5 years to achieve your audacious goal?
- Looking at your 5-year goal, what do you need to do this year to get you closer to achieving that goal?
- What do you need to do this month to achieve your yearly goal?
- What about this week for the monthly goal?
- And finally, what do you need to do today to achieve your weekly goal?
Breaking your goal down in this way makes it actionable and these goals feel much more achievable, reducing procrastination and increasing motivation.
Tip: When setting short-term goals, focus on actions, not results. For example, set a goal to write for 30 minutes rather than to complete two pages.
Setting work goals will help you achieve career success as well as benefit your company.
Each of the professional goal examples in this article can bring you closer to becoming the best version of yourself at work.
And as a result, it provides you with many opportunities and benefits you may not be able to imagine right now.