Setting career goals

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else - Lawrence J. Peter

Successful career management includes careful consideration of short and long term career goals. Take a moment to project yourself into the future; imagine yourself one, three and/or five years after you graduate:

  • what kind of organisation do you see yourself working in – large, medium, small, corporate, government, not-for-profit?
  • what would you like the focus of your work to be?
  • what level of responsibility would you like to have in your role?
  • what level of salary, benefits or professional development opportunities would you like to be available to you?
  • whereabouts in the world do you see yourself working?
  • what career progression opportunities would you like to have available to you?

Set SMART goals

The best goals are smart goals, keep these tips in mind when planning your career:

  • Specific: set specific goals by defining the who, what, when, where and why. For example "Within my first year of work to engage with a mentor who is at management level in Banking and Finance to provide guidance for my career path into Management Accounting."
  • Measurable: being able to measure progress towards your goals will help you stay focused and on track. For example, "To meet with my mentor once a month for 12 months, and by the end of the 12 months to have tailored my resume towards Management Accounting roles."
  • Attractive: ask yourself how much you want to achieve this goal. If it's not truly attractive to you then your motivation to work on it is going to diminish rapidly.
  • Realistic: your goal needs to be challenging and realistic at the same time. It is important that you don’t set yourself up for failure by setting an unobtainable goal, equally that your goal is not so readily attainable that you can become unmotivated.
  • Time bound: set deadlines for each of your goals. Having a time frame associated with your goals will help keep you motivated and to prioritise when things need to occur.

Expect change to occur

It is vital to remember when setting career goals that the 'job for life' no longer exists. According to the latest census data:

  • only 9% of the working population had been with the same employer for 20+ years, and
  • 43.8% had changed employers at least once within the past 3 years.

When making your career choice ask yourself which option will enhance your employability in the future and best contribute to your long term career goals.