10 Steps to Setting Effective Career Development Goals

When setting Career Development goals, it’s important to clearly define your goals as well as the steps necessary to achieve each and every one. By taking the time to set effective career development goals, you can measure progress and track yourself getting closer and closer to the career you have envisioned for yourself. This will not only keep you motivated, it will also help you feel more confident along the way.

The following are some tips for setting effective goals:

1.    Be positive. Frame your goal in light of something you want to obtain, rather than in terms of something you want to avoid. For example, set the goal of improving your writing skills in order to start a career as a blogger working from home as opposed to not getting stuck behind a desk at a dead-end job at a large corporation.

2.    Set realistic goals that you can achieve and that are in your own control. Make sure your abilities and skills are compatible with your long-term goals. If they are not; make sure to include some professional development and skills training goals in your process!

3.    Prioritize. Put your goals in order so that you know which ones to focus on first. This will help you concentrate on one task at a time and keep from feeling overwhelmed.

4.    Write your goals down and post them various places so that you will visually be reminded and motivated to achieve them.

5.    Be specific. One might say, "I want a better job." What does that mean? Is that a job in your current industry or a new profession? What steps must you take to achieve that goal?

6.    Tie an action to each goal. If your goal is to learn more about a chosen field, then the action tied to that goal might be to research online career courses, explore training opportunities, attend a career fair, shadow a professional, etc.

7.    Break down your goals into smaller tasks. You will feel successful when you accomplish each task and feel motivated to continue.  

8.    Make your steps measurable. When you set a goal you must include a time frame for achieving your end goal. You should also specify timelines for each step along the way. For example, you can determine “I want to have completed my first online course in 9 months and my internship in 18 months.” (See information on setting SMART goals below)

9.    Be reasonable.  Are your goals reachable within your time frame? Be reasonable - don't set yourself up to fail.

10.  Be flexible. Occasionally you will encounter obstacles to completing your goals. Don’t give up; just modify your goals accordingly. However, also recognize that if a goal stops being important to you, it is okay to cross that one off the list. This frees you to move on and pursue only the opportunities that are most important to you.

When setting goals for ourselves, we must remember to be SMART. SMART is an easy and effective acronym designed to assist you in creating your goals.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Realistic

T – Timely

Here is a good example of a SMART goal:

“My goal is to be working as a Veterinary Assistant within the year. Over the next two weeks, I will research and select an online certification program to become a Certified Animal Care Worker. After enrollment, I will dedicate a minimum of 15 hours a week towards my coursework and begin work on updating my resume. Upon obtaining my certification I will submit my resume and credentials to Veterinary practices within a 20-mile radius of my home.”

Doesn’t that sound strong, specific, and achievable? SMART goals provide us with a complete understanding of what the purpose of the goal is and set timings around the expected outcome.

Ed4Career has hundreds of great online courses to help you achieve your goals:

  • Our Personal Enrichment Courses are 4 weeks long, instructor-led with open-enrollment. Our courses cover everything from Business to Teaching & Education, Healthcare to Legal --and everything in between.
  • Our For-Credit courses help the student to eliminate the high cost of college. By taking Ed4Credit's low-cost, online, self-paced courses, students earn college credits eligible for transfer within our network of accredited colleges and universities!
  • Our Health and Human Services courses offer high-quality professional development ad online staff training solutions for providers in the health and human services industry. Many of our courses are approved to help professionals meet continuing education requirements.
  • We also offer hundreds of Career Training Courses in a wide variety of fields; Business, IT, Medical and Healthcare. Improve your skills by taking one of our courses today. Many of our courses prepare students to sit for national certification exams in their field of study. 


Whatever your goals may be, Ed4Career wishes you success!