Articles, career, development, 08.09.2023

What are Career Goals and Aspirations? Definition and Examples

3 min.

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“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” – this is one of the interview questions that often leaves candidates puzzled. It’s difficult to answer without defining career goals. How do you outline your dream career path? Why is it worth setting new challenges for yourself and striving to achieve them?

From this article, you will learn:

  • what career goals are;
  • how to reconcile individual goals with organizational ones;
  • what examples of goals in work might be;
  • how to include career goals in your CV.

Career Goals Defined

Career goals are plans, intentions, and aspirations regarding one’s career. The path to achieving them can be straightforward or a bit more challenging. Some goals can be achieved without much effort by performing daily tasks, while others require time, dedication, and investment of certain financial resources.

Career goals are focused on achievements in a specific area. When setting them, it’s worth remembering the SMART method. Each goal should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

When planning your next steps in your career, it’s essential to clearly define your goal, avoiding generalizations. Also, make sure it is easily measurable – this way, you will be able to determine if it has been achieved 100%. Additionally, career goals should be achievable under certain conditions, so don’t confuse them with dreams. Excessive ambition can reduce the likelihood of their achievement. Career goals should bring specific value – both for the employee and the organization. They must also be time-bound. Setting a specific deadline, or a non-negotiable time frame, in which the goals must be achieved, can greatly facilitate their implementation.

Why Set Career Goals?

Career goals play a crucial role in career planning, regardless of the industry. They help focus on what matters most. They serve as reference points for monitoring progress.

Career goals also serve as motivators. The vision of benefits – not only financial – resulting from their achievement acts as a mobilizer. At the same time, setting oneself a distant goal can be demotivating. Therefore, when planning your career path, it’s worth considering smaller, easier-to-achieve goals that will consistently bring you closer to your main goal.

Why should everyone set career goals? Individuals who don’t usually lose interest and motivation in their work more quickly. This makes them more susceptible to burnout. Setting requirements is essential in preventing phenomena that disrupt efficiency and negatively affect self-esteem and the team atmosphere.

Individual Goals vs Organizational Goals

For employers, it’s essential not only where an employee sees themselves in 5 or 10 years, but also whether their vision of their professional future aligns with the organization’s business goals. Therefore, when formulating goals in application documents, it’s worth considering not only one’s own development but also the mission and values of the company to which one is applying.

Examples of Career Goals

Career goals will differ depending on the industry and position. They may include:

  • enhancing skills in a specific area (e.g., child psychology, criminal law, or influencer marketing);
  • advancement to specific positions (e.g., product manager or head of marketing);
  • expanding the client portfolio;
  • taking over supervision of the national branch of the company;
  • gaining experience in working with foreign clients.

However, goals can evolve. Much depends on the current situation in the industry, technological innovations, and other factors beyond our control. Therefore, when thinking long-term, it’s also essential to remember about flexibility in career development planning and adjusting goals to current needs and possibilities, as well as market conditions.

Career Goals in CVs

Defining career goals is one of the most critical elements in application documents. A brief description of plans, ambitions, and aspirations will become your business card. Creating a professional summary can affect the outcome of the recruitment process. This element may determine whether your CV stands out to the recruiter. Defining career goals can distinguish your application from others.

Where to put career goals in your CV? If you want them to be noticed by the recruiter, they must be placed where the person selecting applications will surely not overlook them – at the top of the document, under personal data.

Example of a Professional Summary in a CV

“I am an experienced customer service specialist with documented successes in building positive relationships with clients (in 2022, I received the Salesperson of the Year Award). During my 5-year tenure as a customer service specialist in an international company in the tourism industry, I acquired skills in professional communication and effective problem-solving. I am committed to continuous improvement and am ready to contribute to improving the quality of customer service in the team serving English-speaking customers as head of customer support.”


Why Define Career Goals? Summary

Career goals not only facilitate career planning but also motivate action. Their achievement brings satisfaction and positively affects engagement. Career goals can also help a candidate stand out in the recruitment process and gain a competitive advantage. Career goals should be set by every employee, regardless of the industry or position held. This increases their chances of development.

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