In today’s fast-paced world, our professional lives have become as important as our personal lives. We all wish to work for a great company, build things that matter, and contribute to solving important problems that make our world a better place. Our professional life gives us a purpose and is an important source of our happiness.
However, we all have been in that place where we felt lost, demotivated, and stuck at a job that we hate. How many times have you heard a friend say how they just don’t feel like heading to work every morning? This is because navigating your career in the right direction isn’t easy.
In this article, we will understand the importance of having a career development plan. We will also explore some career development goals and professional development goals examples that will help you set your work life on track.
To steer your career in the right direction and to make the right choices, you need to set some long term professional goals in place. You then need to build a realistic plan to achieve these goals. It is important to practice certain fundamentals while building professional and personal goals:
a) Spare some time to introspect on your career. Don’t rush in making decisions.
b) Consistently review your core work values.
c) Don’t follow public opinions and advice blindly.
We now have an idea of what career development goals are and how they can be built. But why are they important in the first place?
‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ This is a question often asked during interviews. Its purpose is to check if you have a clear vision of who you want to be. Having an understanding of where we want to be, helps us in defining a way to get there. Without goals, it is very easy for people to drift away from what truly inspires them. It is thus necessary to be aware of some career development plan examples to reach your full potential.
Now that we know the importance of having career development goals, let us explore some examples. Goals can be divided into short-term and long-term goals. Let us explore each category.
1) Increase your performance metrics
Every company keeps track of employee performance and grades them dependent on their work rate and efficiency. Performance could be measured as an employee’s work rate, commitment to problem-solving, teamwork, and efficiency at the job.
It is important for you to keep track of your performance metrics. Check the areas where your organization expects more from you and try to identify how you can get there. This will eventually help you build a good reputation amongst your colleagues and senior management.
2) Earn a degree or professional certificate
Often, employees get so submerged in everyday tasks that they do not find time to improve their skillset. It is however important to keep educating yourself and broaden your understanding about your industry. You can choose to pursue a higher degree like an MBA to improve your credential and become a valuable asset for your company.
Short-term goals could be pursuing professional courses and getting certified. Make sure you choose the right course that compliments your current role and will have a positive impact on your career path. Check out sites like Udemy and Coursera that offer short-term as well as long-term online courses sponsored by reputed institutes across the world.
3) Change jobs
Often, employees feel a lack of growth and opportunity at their workplace. There are situations when employees are benched for long stretches due to unavailability of projects. Some employees also experience stagnation in working on the same technology for years. A lack of creativity and financial growth can damage your professional life.
In such a situation, it is important to invest time in updating your resume and applying for other interesting opportunities. Switching jobs and enabling yourself to work on new technology and problems is inspiring and healthy for building a great career path.
4) Create a personal website
Building your personal website that highlights your professional life is a small part of building personal branding. Your website can not only be a showcase of your professional goals and achievements but also a place for you to offer your opinions through your industry experience.
Through a personal website, you gain followers and admirers who can open new opportunities for you.
Networking with people from your and other industries has a big impact on your long-term goals. Networking will also help you to learn more about what people around you are working on. This knowledge can be inspiring and drive you towards achieving your goals as well. People can open up new avenues for you that can turn into a game changer for your career.
Look out for networking seminars and online workshops that are connected with something that can interest you. You can also be a part of networking meets that happen regularly in your city.
6) Improve your communication skills
Excellent communication is one of the top soft skills that most companies look for in their potential candidates. Improving your communication skills has a big impact on how you work with people. Clear communication is extremely important when you are a part of a team that is aiming to achieve a complex task. Good communication also builds a good impression on people when you are networking.
You can try joining courses that focus on building communication skills. Reading regularly can also improve your communication and help you stay informed.
7) Work well with a team
Collaboration and teamwork are mandatory in a company hierarchy. It is important for you to build good relationships with your team members. It is very easy to become an ignored part of the team if you do not invest time in building these relationships. Helping your team members and having their back can help you stand out as a leader who can be relied upon.
1) Get a promotion
Getting a promotion depends a lot on your performance at your workplace. However, many people forget how important your communication and soft skills are in getting promoted. It is important to voice your opinions without fear even if it might downplay someone else’s view. It is also important to share your view on getting promoted with your seniors and listing why you think you deserve growth.
Besides this, set goals that will force you to push your performance and consistently follow them. Make sure you display the qualities that are most valued at your workplace.
2) Change careers
Choosing a career is not as easy as it seems. Many people choose a career path only to later realize its not the best fit for them. However, very few are bold enough to switch careers due to financial insecurities.
Switching your career to follow something that truly excites you is a great long term goal. It can definitely disrupt your lifestyle in the short-term since switching careers entails learning everything from scratch. However, eventually you will find yourself progressing rapidly since you would be doing something you enjoy.
3) Start a business
Many people have a great business idea but find it too risky to leave their well-paying job and start a business. However, this risk is definitely worth taking. A successful business can propel you to a much better financial and professional stage. Besides this, building a business from scratch will teach you a lot more about the market and the industry than a job. As a business owner, you will be exposed to many more responsibilities like fund management, people management, negotiations, customer acquisition, problem identification and scaling. Building a business can help you greatly even in your personal growth.
Make sure you read case studies and books on building products regularly. Validate your idea by meeting influential people and experts before taking a leap.
4) Become a subject matter expert (SME)
In your professional life, you will realize certain segments of your industry that interest you the most. Voicing your opinions regularly on such subjects can help you stand out as an expert. However, this requires extensive study and an attitude to keep learning more about this segment of your interest.
You can use platforms like LinkedIn and Quora to talk to people and solve queries. You can also start blogging your views regularly to gain followers and make yourself a go-to person.
5) Break into management
Getting involved with management requires certain attributes like leadership, problem solving, an in-depth understanding of your domain, teamplay, and authority. If you think you have these abilities or a potential to practice them, you should try to get into management.
There are several professional development goals for managers. As a manager, you have a chance to face challenges at a higher scale. You will no longer be subjected to a fixed project but will have to operate as a mediator between teams and the higher management. Such a diverse role can be extremely beneficial in building a great career path.
6) Feel happier at work
Your professional life can come with its fair share of pressure. However, it is important for you to feel happy every time you go to work. A good mental space is key in improving your professional life.
Switching jobs and moving away from things that have a deteriorating effect on your mental health is extremely crucial.
7) Build your personal brand
A decade ago, branding was only connected with companies. This was a time when employee loyalty was very high and individual development was always overshadowed by brand development. This picture has completely changed over the years. People now are extremely driven and personal branding has taken the front seat.
Personal branding needs consistent efforts like voicing your opinions, building your website, publishing articles, participating in discussions and helping peers.
Building your personal brand can help you get great opportunities for the benefit of your career. Along the same lines, you should set some employee development goals.
8) Volunteer to learn new technologies
One of the most important ways towards career development is to constantly seek out and learn new technologies. In a world where technology can get old every month, it is important to stay updated and ahead of the curve.
Subscribe to tech journals and tutorials to know everything that is happening in the world of technology. Volunteer to take up challenges at your workplace and explore new avenues.
1) Learn how other departments function
Curiosity is key in building a great career. It is very easy to stick to your assigned role and never explore. This is however, degrading for your professional and personal growth. Be curious at your workplace and try to understand how your company works
To do this, build relationships with people in your company beyond your team. Understand how other departments work. Always try to see what you can learn from them.
2) Ask for feedback
It is impossible for you to know your problems without understanding them from others. Be humble and ask for feedback. Your company will have many employees that have much more experience than you. These individuals can guide you through their personal experience. Your team members can also give you feedback on how you can improve your team work. Feedback gives you an opportunity to learn things about you that are hard for you to discover yourself. It is also good for building relationships as you come ahead as an honest individual.
Now that we have explored many of the short-term and long-term goals that can help you in your career development, let us try to explore some career development goals examples. Through this you will be easily able to define your own professional goals.
It is necessary to consistently try and be productive at your workplace. A lack of productivity can have a negative impact on your problem solving and general attitude. It is important to define certain standards and ensure you maintain those standards at your workplace to ensure faster career development.
Being efficient with work is another important category while defining goals. Efficiency can be measured through your performance, work rate, work ethic and skills. It is important to focus on your efficiency and always work towards sharpening your skills to be more efficient and improve your personal efficiency metrics.
In a world where every industry changes so quickly, it is important to learn through your work. To do this, you have to keep yourself updated with the latest in your industry. Learning newer technology and how it can be applied to your industry is important to stay ahead of the curve.
Finally, developing personally is one of the most important thing. Your professional ethics should be mirrored in your personality and you should aim to be looked at as a reliable individual. Sharpening your soft skills is extremely important. Communication plays a key role in building personality. You mannerisms and how you interact with people and peers can have a big role in shaping your personality and career.