20 Professional Goals You Can Set To Improve Your Career

20 Professional Goals

Are you looking for ways to improve your professional life? If so, you’re in luck! In this blog post, we will provide a list of professional goals that you can set to make yourself more successful. Each goal is accompanied by steps on how to achieve it. So what are you waiting for? Start reading and get started on your path to success!

Networking

This is one of the most important professional goals and something positive you can do for your career, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. It allows you to meet new people who can help you in your job search or advance your career.

You can network in person or online. There are many networking events held every year, so be sure to attend as many as possible. You can also join networking groups on LinkedIn or other social media sites.

When networking, be sure to have a elevator pitch prepared. This is a short summary of who you are and what you do that lasts no more than 30 seconds. Practice it until you feel confident delivering it.

Also, be sure to follow up with the people you meet after the event by sending them a LinkedIn request or an email. Finally, don’t forget to keep track of the networking contacts you make so you can follow up with them in the future.

Here are some examples of networking goals you can set:

  • Attend at least one networking event per month
  • Join a networking group on LinkedIn
  • Connect with at least five new people at each networking event you attend
  • Follow up with each person you meet within 24 hours
  • Keep track of your networking contacts in a spreadsheet or CRM tool

Education

One of the best ways to improve your career is to invest in your education. By furthering your education, you can make yourself more attractive to potential employers and open up new opportunities.

There are many different ways to advance your education. You can go back to school and get a formal education, or you can take courses online or through professional organizations.

No matter how you choose to do it, make sure you set goals for yourself so you can track your progress. Here are some examples of professional goals related to education you can set:

  • Return to school by a given date
  • Enroll in a specific amount of credit hours per semester upon registration
  • Obtain a degree in a given field, or upgrade your current degree to the next level, by a chosen date
  • Complete your first online course within a certain amount of weeks of enrollment
  • Spend a specific amount of hours studying each week

Certification

Obtaining certification in your field can lead to many benefits, such as higher pay, improved job prospects, and more. This is one of the professional goals that your company may pay to help you achieve. Ask your HR department or coworkers if there are any opportunities for financial assistance or reimbursement. Some larger companies even offer their own training courses.

There are a variety of certification programs available, so it’s important to do your research to find the one that’s right for you. Some of the more popular options are Certified Associate Project Manager (CAPM), Six Sigma Green Belt, Lean Practicioner, Certified ScrumMaster, and Certified Business Analysis Professional.

Once you’ve chosen a program, set a goal to complete it within a certain time frame. Here are some examples of certification goals you can set:

  • Finish the certification program within six months of starting
  • Complete all required exams within three months of finishing the coursework
  • Achieve a passing score on the final exam
  • Maintain certification by taking continuing education courses every year or two years as required by most programs

Monetary Goals

Many people choose to set monetary goals for themselves in order to improve their career. Financial incentives makeup the basis of the majority of professional goals. If you’re looking for ways to make more money, there are a few things you can do.

One way to make more money is to ask for a raise at your current job. If you feel like you’re underpaid, speak to your boss about it and try to negotiate a higher salary.

Another way to make more money is to look for a new job that pays better than your current one. This can be difficult, but it’s worth it if you’re able to find a position that pays what you’re worth.

Here are some examples of monetary goals you can set:

  • Ask for a raise within six months
  • Find a new job that pays at least 20% more than your current salary
  • Earn a promotion by a certain date
  • Make $X amount of money per year
  • Get a pay raise or bonus that’s equal to at least one month’s salary

Career Change

Speaking of changing jobs, another great way to improve your career is to change careers altogether. This can be a big decision, but it can also be very beneficial.

If you’re not happy with your current career, or if you’re looking for a new challenge, changing careers may be one of the best professional goals for you.

There are a few things to consider before making a career change, such as your skillset, experience, and goals. But if you do your research and plan carefully, changing careers can be a great way to improve your career prospects.

Here are some examples of career change goals you can set:

  • Research new career options
  • Find a mentor in your chosen field
  • Update your resume and LinkedIn profile
  • Network with people in your chosen field
  • Look for job openings in your desired career
  • Apply to at least X number of jobs per week
  • Attend a career fair or networking event

Becoming a Subject Matter Expert

One of the best ways to improve your career is to become a subject matter expert (SME). This means becoming an expert in your field so you can offer valuable insights and advice.

Being an SME can open up a lot of doors, such as new job opportunities, consulting gigs, speaking engagements, and more. If you’re looking to improve your career, becoming an SME is a great goal to set.

Here are some examples of how you can become an SME:

  • Write articles or blog posts about your area of expertise
  • Give presentations or webinars on topics related to your field
  • Teach courses or lead training sessions on your subject matter
  • Network with other experts in your field
  • Attend conferences and events related to your area of expertise
  • Earn a degree or certification in your field

Management

Next on our list of professional goals is working into management. If you’re looking to move up the corporate ladder, becoming a manager is a great goal to set. Management positions come with a lot of responsibility, but they also offer many benefits, such as higher pay, more job stability, and more opportunities for advancement.

There are a few things you need to do in order to become a manager. First, you need to have several years of experience in your field. Second, you need to demonstrate strong leadership qualities. And third, you need to be able to show that you’re capable of managing people and projects.

If you’re interested in becoming a manager, here are some goals you can set:

  • Gain five years of experience in your field
  • Demonstrate strong leadership qualities
  • Take on additional responsibilities at work
  • Manage a team or project successfully
  • Earn a management degree or certification

These are just a few examples of professional goals you can set to improve your career. No matter what your goals are, remember to be specific, realistic, and achievable. And most importantly, don’t forget to take action and make things happen!

Awards

Earning awards is a great way to improve your career. Awards can open up new job opportunities, provide networking opportunities, and give you leverage when negotiating a higher salary. Here are some examples of awards you can aim for:

  • Employee of the Month
  • Top Salesperson
  • Rising Star
  • MVP
  • Manager of the Year
  • Leader of the Year
  • Best in Customer Service
  • Best in Sales
  • Best Project Manager
  • Mentorship awards
  • Fellowship awards

New Tools or Software

Learning how to use new tools or software can provide a major boost to your career and is one of the most important professional goals as far as technology adoption is concerned. Not only will you be able to do your job better, but you’ll also be able to advance in your career more quickly.

Learning something new can all of a sudden open up other career opportunities that you never before considered. Alternatively, you could even leverage your new skills to negotiate a raise or promotion if your timing is right.

Here are some examples of new tools or software you can learn:

  • Graphic design software: Photoshop, Inkscape, GIMP
  • Web development software: WordPress, MockPlus, Dreamweaver, Bootstrap, Github
  • Marketing automation software: HubSpot, Blueshift, Drip, ActiveCampaign, Omnisend
  • Salesforce
  • Adobe Creative Suite: Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat DC, Premiere Pro, InDesign, Adobe Express
  • Project management software: Smartsheet, Trello, monday.com, Asana, Zenkit, Basecamp, Atlassian Jira
  • Accounting software: Quickbooks Online, Xero, Wave, Sage, FreshBooks, Patriot, FreeAgent, Accounting Seed
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems: HubSpot, Freshsales, Pipredrive, Daylite, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Insightly

Starting a Business

Starting a business is tough and it may take some tries before you’re successful. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, About 20% of small businesses don’t make it past the end of year one and half won’t make it past five years.

That said, if the odds are in your favor, you stand the chance to be financially independent working for yourself. You might miss a guaranteed paycheck at first, but you’ll be rewarded if you stick it out. This is one of the riskiest professional goals, because you may have to leave a career behind.

Here are some steps you can take to start a small business:

  • Figure out what type of business you want to start: Think of your strong points and resources and determine what your competitive advantages could be. You’ll also want to do some research on the competition and industry structure to determine how hard it’ll be to enter.
  • Create your business entity: Remember, owners of LLCs or corporate shares are not held personally liable for business debts (with exceptions).
  • Do thorough research on your target demographic as well as what the competition is offering
  • Create a business plan: If you’re planning on using it mainly internally or with informal investors, you don’t have to write 20 pages plus an appendix. However, if you plan on seeking a loan or other private capital, you will want to be sure you cover each section in depth.
  • Establish your source of funding: Possible sources include friends, family, angel investors, banks, or personal funds. If you plan on going really big and plan on creating an exit strategy, you could try to pitch to a venture capitalist.
  • Look for a location: If you’re starting small and don’t require a lot of special equipment and accommodations, you could simply operate out of your house. If you’re looking to rent a space, know that prices range drastically based on location.
  • Begin advertising: You can start for free with things like social media. At some point, you will want to consider paid advertising because chances are your competition is doing it and you want your brand known equally or better than theirs.
  • Delegate: Once you’ve got things rolling and your business doesn’t require your presence at all times, it’s best to start giving some tasks away to other people you can trust. Hire a manager and pay and treat them well so they love doing their best job for you and reaching their own professional goals.

Time Management

You can be the most talented person in your field, but without time management skills, you will not get far. Time management is key to success in any field.

As far as professional goals go, few will be noticed as immediately as better managing your time. You will instantly have the ability to get more done and will fell less burned out with the work that you have to do.

The ability to punctuality and dependability are highly sought-after qualities employers look for when hiring new employees.

There are a few steps you can take to start becoming a better time manager:

  • Start by evaluating how you spend your time: Keep track of how you spend your time for a week or two in a journal or spreadsheet. Be honest with yourself about where your time goes and what activities are eating up more time than necessary.
  • Identify time-wasting activities and start eliminating them: Once you know where your time goes, it’ll be easier to start cutting out activities that are time-wasters. This could mean things like watching too much TV, browsing social media, or spending time with people who drain your energy.
  • Create a daily schedule: Once you have a good idea of how you want to spend your time, it’s time to start creating a daily schedule. Be sure to include time for breaks and allow yourself some flexibility in case something comes up.
  • Set goals and stick to them: Having goals is one thing, but actually sticking to them is another. Make sure your goals are realistic and achievable, then create a plan of action for how you’re going to achieve them.

Remember, time management is a skill that takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results overnight. Just keep working at it and you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

Personal Branding

Ever think about creating your own personal brand? Personal branding is the practice of marketing yourself and your career as a business. It can be a great way to advance your career and open up new opportunities.

Here are a few tip for putting together a personal brand:

  • Put together a list of all your skills, things you are truly passionate about and your education and certifications
  • Come up with a personal mission and vision statement. Indeed has a good write-up on those here.
  • Every brand has a set of character traits associated with it and you’ll need to establish your personality. Are you sophisticated, empathetic, generous, extroverted, or silly? Once you’ve established your brand’s personality, you will use this in your designs and marketing.
  • Get to know your target audience. This could be an employer, a professional group, potential clients, or anyone.
  • Describe how you plan on meeting the specific needs of your audience
  • Showcase all of the above on your personal website, which you can start for free with WordPress. You can find shared web hosting for free or almost free. Once you’re ready for high-grade VPS hosting, we highly recommend Cloudways (affiliate link).
  • You may consider making a slide deck for your personal brand. If you do, you’ll want to cover everything discussed above. Use a tool like Canva, which starts free, to make really nice professional designs.

Mentoring

Up next on our list of professional goals is mentoring. Mentoring can be a great way to give back and help someone else while also advancing your own career. When you mentor someone, you are sharing your knowledge and expertise with them which can make you more valuable to your employer.

Not only that, but mentoring can also help build your network. When you mentor someone, they will often times want to return the favor and help you out when they can.

So how do you become a mentor? It’s actually pretty simple. First, find someone who wants to be mentored. This could be a colleague, friend, or family member who is looking for guidance in their career.

Once you’ve found someone who wants to be mentored, sit down with them and set some goals. This will help you both stay on track and measure progress.

You should make it a point to create a mutually-agreeable schedule. Setup regular meetings with your mentee. This could be once a week, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on your schedules.

In addition to meeting regularly, make sure you’re available for your mentee when they need you. This means being responsive to their emails, texts, or calls.

One of the most important parts of being a mentor is listening. Really listen to what your mentee is saying and offer advice and guidance when appropriate. Take note of what their professional goals are so you can help them stay accountable to their plans.

Another great way to help your mentee is by providing them with resources. This could be books, articles, websites, or anything else that you think would be helpful. If it ever helped you, it will probably help them as well.

Reading

While probably not the most exhilarating of professional goals, reading and studying, whether academic text or books written by business professionals or subject matter experts, is a great way to develop a professional career.

By reading you can learn about new things, get different perspectives on topics, and improve your writing skills. Here are a few of the most popular career advancement books:

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime.

Secrets of The millionaire Mind: Mastering The Inner Game of Wealth

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success

Pay It Forward: How One Simple Idea Can Change Your Life and Maybe Even the World

These are just a few examples of the many great books out there that can help you advance your career. So get reading!

Interning

An internship is a great way to get your foot in the door and start your career. Internships can provide you with valuable work experience, help you build your network, and give you the opportunity to learn new skills.

Not sure how to find an internship? Start by searching online or reaching out to your school’s career center. Once you’ve found a few potential opportunities, reach out to the contacts listed and express your interest.

Once you’ve landed an internship, it’s important to make the most of it. To start, you definitely want to make sure you’re on time for each one of your shifts. It is usually best to arrive about 15 minutes early.

You’ll also want to make sure to dress appropriately. This could mean different things at different companies, so be sure to pay a lot of attention to how others dress and any applicable information you can find in the employee handbook.

A lot of offices are foregoing even business casual dress these days in favor of jeans and t-shirts, but that doesn’t apply to all companies and positions. The easiest way to know is to ask.

Make sure you also clarify anything you are uncertain about, all things considered. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Don’t be afraid to ask for instructions, but you must then remember those instructions or record them somewhere so you can reference them later if needed.

Additionally, you want to be known for an openness to trying new things and seizing opportunities. Come out of your safety zone a bit. Finally, keep a positive attitude and be a team player. These traits tend to be contagious.

Attend a Conference

Attending a conference is a great way to network, learn about new trends and developments in your field, and get inspired. But with so many conferences out there, it can be tough to know which ones to attend.

Here are a few questions to address when choosing a conference:

  • What is the conference’s focus? Make sure it aligns with your interests.
  • Who will be speaking? Do their topics align with your interests?
  • How much does it cost? Is it within your budget?
  • When and where is it taking place? Is it convenient for you to travel there?

Once you’ve found a conference that meets all of your criteria, register early to get the best price and to ensure your spot. Then start planning your trip! If you’re traveling from out of town, book your hotel and travel arrangements as soon as possible.

When packing for the conference, be sure to pack any items you might need to make your experience more comfortable, such as a water bottle, snacks, comfortable shoes, a sweater or jacket (in case the conference room is cold), and a notepad and pen.

Most importantly, don’t forget your business cards! Attendees will be exchanging them left and right, so you’ll want to have plenty on hand.

Now that you know how to choose and attend a conference, it’s time to start planning for one! Attending a conference is a great way to advance your career and set professional goals.

Personal KPIs

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are how we can measure productivity and gauge achievement. They are personal, performance-based professional goals.

You don’t have to go solely of the areas your company judges you on. You can set your own targets so you know exactly how close you are to your potential.

Some personal KPIs you could set for yourself could involve:

  • Number of new clients
  • The amount of revenue you generate
  • Total sales
  • Sales volumes
  • The number of leads you generate
  • Number of referrals
  • Response time
  • Satisfaction rate

By setting personal KPIs, not only will you be able to better monitor your progress, but also challenge and push yourself to reach new levels. Doing so can only lead to good things for your career.

Innovation

Innovating, or coming up with new ideas, is another great way to set and achieve professional goals. It can involve improving upon an existing product or process or coming up with something entirely new.

Think about ways you could improve your work processes or the products you sell. Could you make them more efficient? More user-friendly? More affordable?

You could also come up with an entirely new product or service. This could be something your company needs but doesn’t currently have, or something that fill a gap in the market.

Do some research and see what other companies in your industry are doing. See what kinds of products and services they offer and look for any gaps in the market. Then, brainstorm some ideas for new products or services that could fill those gaps.

Once you have some ideas, start putting together a plan for how to implement them. This could involve doing some market research, coming up with a prototype, and putting together a business plan. Then, present your ideas to your boss or company decision-makers and see if they’re on board.

If they are, start working on making your idea a reality. If not, don’t give up – keep brainstorming and come up with more ideas until you find one that sticks.

Promotion

One of the most popular professional goals is obtaining a promotion. If you’re interested in moving up within your company, start by doing some research.

Find out what the requirements are for the position you want and see if you meet them. If not, see what you need to do to qualify.

Once you’ve done that, start putting together a plan for how to achieve the promotion. This could involve taking on additional assignments or responsibilities, volunteering for committees or special projects, or taking on a leadership role.

Start networking with people who can help you achieve your goal, such as mentors, sponsors, or influential people within your company. These people can provide guidance, advice, and support as you work towards your goal.

And finally, don’t forget to stay positive and confident. Believe in yourself and your ability to achieve the promotion. If you do, others will too.

Vacation

The last of our professional goals is vacationing enough. Taking a vacation may seem like the opposite of advancing your career, but it’s actually a great way to improve your work-life balance. When you have a good work-life balance, you’re more productive, happier, and less likely to experience burnout.

So how do you achieve an optimal work-life balance? It’s different for everyone, but there are a few general tips you can follow.

First, make sure you take vacation days – even if you don’t feel like you need them. It’s important to step away from work from time to time so you can recharge and come back feeling refreshed.

Second, try to unplug from work when you’re on vacation. This can be easier said than done, but it’s important to disconnect from work email, calls, and social media. If you can, leave your work at the office and enjoy your time off.

Finally, don’t feel guilty about taking vacation. It’s not selfish – it’s actually good for your career. When you have a good work-life balance, you’re more productive and less likely to experience burnout.

So go ahead and take that vacation. Your career will thank you for it.

Conclusion

There are a lot of different professional goals you can set to improve your career. Whether you want to develop new skills, improve upon existing ones, or come up with something entirely new, there are plenty of options available to you.

Remember, each one of the above professional goals adds to your intrinsic value. Make sure you leverage this when you go on job interviews or pitch to new clients. Be sure this is part of your salary negotiations or built into the rates you are charging your customers, if applicable.

So what are you waiting for? Pick a goal and start working towards it today. Your career will thank you for it.

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