35 Career Goals Examples and How to Achieve Them Now

Identify, Set, And Achieve Your Professional Goals For Long-Term Success

Today, I want to explore dozens of the best career goals examples. Plus some tips on how to set and achieve your professional development goals for long-term success.

So, let’s get started…

Career Goals Examples

Here’s our hand-picked list of the best career goals examples for you to choose from:

  1. Be great at what you do today
  2. Seek out performance feedback
  3. Develop a new job skill
  4. Determine what you love to do
  5. Develop a career plan
  6. Find career mentors
  7. Make a top-notch resume
  8. Craft the perfect cover letter template
  9. Learn to interview like a pro
  10. Expand your professional network
  11. Become a better collaborator
  12. Enhance your interpersonal skills
  13. Attain increasing levels of leadership
  14. Master public speaking
  15. Streamline processes at your job
  16. Increase knowledge and skills through training
  17. Get an internship
  18. Achieve a KPI
  19. Cross-train in another functional area
  20. Get international experience
  21. Expand your technological expertise
  22. Start your own business
  23. Get an additional degree
  24. Obtain a professional certification
  25. Become an expert in your field
  26. Win an award in your industry
  27. Become a teacher in your area of expertise
  28. Develop a personal brand
  29. Build a personal website
  30. Grow a social media following
  31. Earn a promotion
  32. Land your dream job
  33. Change to a better career field
  34. Maximize your earning potential
  35. Achieve financial independence

I will expand on each of these career goals examples in just a moment. But first, let’s lay in a little background information…

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What Are Career Goals?

First of all, a goal is the desired outcome that a person envisions, plans, and commits to achieve.

More specifically, career goals are milestones that you desire to achieve as you move forward in your chosen profession. They are also known as work goals, job goals, employee goals, professional goals, and professional development goals.

Finally, I like to break professional goals into types. One type is based on the time it takes to complete a goal. While the other type is based on category.

Let’s discuss these two different perspectives next…

Types Of Career Goals Examples Based On Duration

When selecting and planning your professional development goals, consider how long each one will take to complete.

As a matter of choice, I did not classify any of today’s career goals examples based on duration. Many professional development coaches like to do this, but not me.


Because what might be short-term for one person. Could be long-term for another. So, the time to complete is up to you to decide.

Regardless, here are the time phases you should keep in mind when selecting and setting any of today’s examples of career goals…

Short-Term Career Goals

First, short-term career goals should be set and completed within one year.

Medium-Term Career Goals

Second, medium-term career goals are professional development objectives to be completed in more than 1 but less than 5 years.

Long-Term Career Goals

Finally, long-term career goals should be planned for completion in more than 5 years.

Types of Career Goals Examples Based On Category

Next, when I’m planning my career goals, I like to think about them in 6 broad categories. Because selecting goals across these categories means a well-balanced career plan.

Although each individual’s situation is different. I think the first three categories lend themselves to short-term career goals. While the last 3 categories are better for medium and long-term career goals.

So, here is how today’s professional development goals examples play out by category…

Basic building block career goals. Consider these goals the price of admission to the game.

Because they are a must for building a strong foundation for your career development. From a goal duration standpoint, think of them as short-term professional goals.

People and people skills goals. Almost everything in your career will center around getting things done with, for, and because of other people. Thus, setting goals to improve interpersonal skills is critical.

On-job skills goals. This next group focuses on maximizing your current situation. Whether you have a job right now or not, accomplishing skill-based goals will help propel you forward.

Credentials and credibility career goals. It’s hard to move forward on any career path without credentials and credibility. So, we have a group of goals in this area.

Personal branding goals. Additional creditability can be built through personal branding. It’s a tremendous way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Reward-based career goals. Finally, we have goals that focus on rewards and payoffs. Both quantitative rewards. You know, money! As well as qualitative.

Next, here are a few tips on choosing your professional goals. After all, no one can or should try to set and achieve all 35 of the possible career goals examples from today’s list…

How To Choose Your Career Goals

First, look at the basic building blocks. They are numbered 1-9 in today’s list.

If you feel you are falling short in any of these areas. Then make one or more of them a priority,

Second, look at goal duration. To make sure you have a least one short-term career goal, one medium-term career goal, and one long-term career goal. So you are balanced across the time spectrum.

You may also want to break down goals that will take 3 or more years to complete into short-term steps. Then, as you complete your short-term goals and steps for longer-term goals, replace them with others.

Third, balance your goal selection across the 6 categories I described above. Make sure each of your selected goals fits your long-term career development plan.

Finally, don’t take on too many goals at once. In my opinion, 5 should be plenty. However, assess it for yourself. Carefully consider your capacity for taking on more or less than 5.

Then, after you select your goals. It’s time to set them…

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How To Set Career Goals

For regular readers, you know I prefer to set SMART goals. Furthermore, the SMART goal-setting system is based on these attributes:

Specific. Be as detailed as possible about what exactly you want to accomplish.

Measurable. Know exactly how you will determine if and when a goal is accomplished.

Achievable. Stretch yourself. But, don’t waste time on goals that are impossible to achieve.

Realistic. A goal might be possible. But, also assess your ability, resources, and capacity for achieving a goal. In other words, make sure it is realistic for your specific situation.

Time-bound. Every goal must have a deadline for achievement.

I have been learning about another goal-setting system, called HARD goals. This method works great for personal development goals and goals for your career.

Okay. You have 35 examples of career goals to choose from. And some ideas about choosing the best ones for your current situation. Also, the keys to setting SMART goals.

Next, a few tips on achieving your professional goals…

How To Achieve Career Goals

Have a vision for the future. Ask yourself what your professional life will look like when you accomplish your goals. Then keep your eyes forward toward your vision.

Talk to others about your goals. Discussing your work goals with others builds commitment. And helps to clarify your thoughts and actions.

Write your goals down. Written goals are more likely to be achieved. Also, writing your professional goals will force you to be specific.

Put in the work. Moving your career forward in a big way requires work. So, hustle every day. Then rest when necessary to avoid burnout.

Take action. Every day you should do something, no matter how small. In pursuit of one or more of your goals.

Monitor results. Reward yourself for staying on track. Adapt and adjust when you fall behind. Most importantly, take stock of your progress against the deadlines you have set for yourself.

Failure isn’t fatal. Sometimes you will fail. It happens to all of us.

Pick yourself up. Assess what went wrong. Learn from it. And strive to do better.

Okay. Finally, let’s dig into each of today’s career goals examples in a little more detail.

To provide you with some of my perspectives. As you get ready to plan your career path…

Career Goals Examples To Set And Achieve

We will begin with the first category. Specifically, the basic building blocks…

1. Be Great At What You Do Today

There are only 3 certainties in life: death, taxes, and today.

No matter what you are doing today. Set a career goal to be great at it.

2. Seek Out Performance Feedback

Don’t wait for your annual performance review. Constantly seek out constructive criticism from those around you.

No one should be off-limits. Including bosses, coworkers, customers, suppliers, outside contractors, friends, mentors, and family.

3. Develop A New Job Skill

We work in a skill-based economy. Thus, those with in-demand skills have an advantage.

So, improve upon your existing skills. Also, add new skills to your toolbox.

4. Determine What You Love To Do

There is no sense in setting goals around a future state. That won’t make you happy.

This makes determining what you want to do key. More importantly, deciding what you love to do is critical.

5. Develop A Career Plan

Pursuing what you love. While setting goals to get there.

That’s what this is all about. Putting in place the building blocks to a meaningful career plan.

Look at the big picture here. And make sure it all fits together.

6. Find Career Mentors

Identify people who have accomplished something that you too want to achieve.

Then seek out these people as often as possible. Pick their brain whenever you can.

7. Make A Top-Notch Resume

Your resume is your calling card. It is the key to getting your “foot in the door” during a job search.

Make it the absolute best it can be. To showcase your unique skills, talents, and experiences.

I like MyPersonalResume for this task. And for accomplishing this career goal at a high level.

8. Craft The Perfect Cover Letter Template

Every cover letter you send should be customized for the opportunity. But that doesn’t mean starting from scratch every time you apply for a job.

So, put together a good baseline cover letter template. From which you can customize however necessary.

9. Learn To Interview Like A Pro

More often than not, the best interviewer gets the job. Not necessarily the best candidate.

So, hone your job interview skills to be ready for the next opportunity.

Then, when the next opportunity presents itself: prepare, prepare, prepare.

Be ready to tell your future employer what you bring to the table. Exactly how you are going to tackle the job. Also, how you will help them achieve their long-term business goals and objectives.

Furthermore, align and communicate your job goals to fit with the opportunity. Finally, ask good interview questions.

Okay. That completes the 9 examples of career goals that fall into the basic building blocks category.

Next, it’s time for people and people skills. They are numbers 10-14.

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10. Expand Your Professional Network

Gone are the days of getting the best professional career opportunities through want ads and job boards.

Because it’s less about what you know. And more about who you know. So, make a goal to expand your professional network.

11. Become A Better Collaborator

An isolated employee is an unproductive and vulnerable employee. Because most high-quality businesses have goals centered around getting work done in teams.

So, learn to communicate better. And to be a productive team member.

12. Enhance Your Interpersonal Skills

Getting along well with people is critical. So, become skilled at bringing them around to your way of thinking.

Focus on being liked and respected.

13. Attain Increasing Levels Of Leadership

Leaders get access to opportunities. On the other hand, workers are instructed what to do.

If you can lead. You can prosper no matter what career path you choose.

So, learn how to be a leader.

14. Master Public Speaking

Get good at speaking in front of a group. To inform, entertain, and motivate.

Because achieving high performance in a leadership position requires good public speaking skills.

Next up are career goals that focus on job skills. They are numbers 15 through 22.

15. Streamline Processes At Your Job

Making your job or your employer more efficient in some way is always a good goal.

It’s simple. Just find and implement ways to get more done with less!

Every business has financial goals. And improving productivity is one way to achieve them.

Do so and you will be sure to impress your employer.

16. Increase Knowledge And Skills Through Training

Achieving training goals is critical throughout your career. So, never stop learning through training.

Whether it is informal on-the-job training. Or, more structured professional development programs, courses, and seminars.

17. Get An Internship

A more specific type of job training can be attained through an internship program. This is one of many excellent career goals for students to set and achieve.

18. Achieve A KPI

KPIs are broad-based goals that businesses set as a foundation for success.

KPI stands for a key performance indicator. Furthermore, many KPIs are often nonfinancial.

So, you don’t have to be a financial expert to contribute in many of the areas that KPIs cover.

Thus, learn more about KPIs at your company. Then help out achieving them.

19. Cross-Train In Another Functional Area

Cross-training in other areas is a great way to broaden your horizons. And dramatically expand your skills.

For example, I worked at a company that encouraged employees to take an assignment on the sales force. No matter their functional expertise or long-term professional development goals.

And be sure to understand this: money is the language of business.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to work in the finance function. Be sure to take advantage.

20. Get International Experience

Taking on an international assignment is also an excellent goal. To learn how work is done in other parts of the world. And by people of varying cultures.

21. Expand Your Technological Expertise

In today’s world, every company in some way is a technology company. And every job has a technology component to it.

So, it pays to be good with technology.

22. Start Your Own Business

Tired of “working for the man.” Or, woman. Whatever the case may be.

If so, set a goal to start your own business. However, most new businesses require investments.

So, do your homework. And put a good business plan together before getting started.

Then, to get off to a good start. You might also like to dig into some short-term goals to set for your business.

Okay. That completes the possible on-job skills goals for your consideration.

Next, let’s move to credentials and creditability goals. They are numbered 23 through 27.

23. Get An Additional Degree

No matter your talents, some professions have specific degree requirements. Understand the requirements and set a career goal to achieve them. Otherwise, you won’t go far.

However, be careful here. Education is expensive and time-consuming. So, don’t waste your precious resources on a degree just because everyone has one.

Do it because your chosen profession requires it.

24. Obtain A Professional Certification

The same goes for professional certifications. Some fields require it.

Other times, certifications are a nice way to separate yourself from the crowd.

Often they can be achieved for less time and expense. Versus an educational degree program.

For example, I’m a Certified Public Accountant. And getting certified as an accountant opened many doors for me throughout the years.

25. Become An Expert In Your Field

Rare and special skills can bring big rewards. Determine what you want to specialize in. Then become an expert.

Do so by identifying and solving problems in a defined area. Where others can not.

26. Win An Award In Your Industry

Industry-specific rewards and recognition can go a long way in building your creditability. It’s one way to prove your expertise.

Every industry and situation is different. Spend some time researching the possibilities that make sense for you.

Then go for it. And win that award.

27. Become A Teacher In Your Field

Teaching is a wonderful way to learn and grow. Because to be great at teaching. You have to be an expert in the discipline you teach.

Part-time and evening teaching opportunities are abundant. It’s an excellent way to build your resume. Even if teaching is not your primary profession.

Next up, career goals example 28 through 30. All about building your brand…

28. Develop A Personal Brand

Some of the best personal goals for your career are branding-related. It is a way to distinguish yourself. And involves positioning yourself as an authority. And a trusted source.

So, think about how you present yourself. And how your long-term career goals can fit into building your brand.

29. Build A Personal Website

Next, consider creating a professional website. Include your biography. Then write and publish articles about topics in your field.

It’s an excellent way to build your resume and digital presence. Along with having a strong Linkedin profile.

30. Grow A Social Media Following

Finally, build your brand and expand your digital profile by participating in social media outlets.

Twitter, Facebook groups, and subreddits are several options to pursue.

Okay. It’s time for our last category of potential professional goals.

Numbers 31-35 focus on your possible rewards for all the hard work…

31. Earn A Promotion

Sets your sights on moving up the ladder with your current employer. Then get that promotion.

Use it to become a better manager, improve your leadership, gain new skills, and of course, make more money.

32. Land Your Dream Job

Remember career goal #4? Determine what you love to do.

Well, once you figure it out. Then, go find your dream job that fulfills your passion.

Do so and you will never have to work another day. Because you will love what you do.

33. Change To A Better Career Field

Sometimes our priorities and interests change as time passes. So, when what you love changes. And it will.

Set your course in a new direction.

I did it in my late 40s. Exiting my profession in corporate finance. And becoming a business school teacher.

It was very rewarding.

34. Maximize Your Earning Potential

Determine the peak salaries in your field. Then, set a goal to attain that level. Choose other goals that support this objective.

35. Achieve Financial Independence

No one can work forever. And while you are working, make it on your terms.

There is no better way to do so than by achieving financial independence. Then you can further your career only if you want to. On terms that meet your requirements.

If you like, dig deeper into our guide about setting and achieving long-term financial goals. To get more insight into this area.

Okay. That concludes today’s article.

So, allow me to wrap up with a few parting thoughts…

Final Thoughts On Selecting, Setting, And Achieving Our Career Goals Examples

Your career is what you make it. And you can make it exactly what you want it to be.

So, get busy…

First, select several professional goals from today’s examples.

Second, focus on short-term career goals and long-term career goals examples. And perhaps one or two somewhere in between.

Spread them across the career goal categories we discussed. For a balanced approach to your professional and personal development.

Finally, set them using the SMART career goals planning system. Then get busy achieving them.

And remember this…

If you can envision it, you can achieve it.

More Reading About Goals And Money

Since you have made it this far. I will assume you are interested in money and finance.

So, check out our…

Full Suite of Money Management Articles

It’s heavily focused on setting and achieving the best life goals for long-term success. No matter what you choose to do.

The conclusion is written on a whiteboard

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

Examples of Career Goals And Steps For Success Explained