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Never Say Never Again: Set Career Goals

Monday, November 23, 2009

By Courtney Pike, Director of Operations, JobBound

What is your dream job, and how do you make that dream a reality?

Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in some of the work mantras – Must have a great job, Must make a lot of money, Must be wildly successful.  Often, you can get so busy with the day-to-day, hectic tasks of your current job that you lose sight of where you are going and where you want to be.

Many professionals have this dream of landing the perfect job in the perfect city for the perfect amount of money, benefits and self-fulfillment.  So how do you get there?  Well, you have to gain spectacular experiences, write an amazing resume, craft a catchy cover letter, dazzle the interviewers, and network like crazy! Quite honestly, these thoughts are immobilizing.  With that perspective, it’s easy to cast your dream job off as just that – a dream. 

Fortunately, there are some simple tips to make getting a great job a little easier.  "I'll NEVER get that job!" Does this sound familiar? Never Say Never Again.  Take the first step now.

1.  Write down your goals.
To start, write down a couple of your main career goals. 

GOAL: To be a travel writer for National Geographic Magazine

Then you want to break that down into manageable steps that you can track.  Create a detailed, written description of each of your goals, using the SMART criteria as a guideline:

  •     Specific. You can describe the details – Who? What? Where? When? How?
  •     Measureable. You can measure the goal using either quantitative or qualitative assessments.
  •     Acheivable. The goal is realistic given existing constraints, such as time and resources.  “To be the National Geographic CEO on the cover of next      month’s issue” might be a little lofty.
  •     Realistic.  You are willing and able to accomplish this goal.  You believe in it.
  •     Time Bound. Ground the goal with a specified time frame. “Before I retire” isn’t specific enough.

Examples of SMART goals:

  •     To complete my resume and have it proofread and critiqued by three people by May 1.
  •     To start a personal travel blog by May 10 and post one story every week.
  •     To set up and complete three informational interviews with three members of my Outdoor Writers Association by May 30.
  •     To attend two networking events in Washington D.C. by June 1.
  •     To get two travel articles published in Travel + Leisure magazine by June 15.
  •     To have three mock interviews before my job interview with National Geographic on July 1.

2.  Post your goals and tell someone.
Put your goals on your refrigerator, put the dates on your calendar, or make little inspirational banners or post-its.  This makes your goals seem more real and permanent.  Tell your friends and family.  This holds you accountable, and it gives your goals life.

3.  Re-evaluate your career goals at key checkpoints.
Things change.  Every month, you should sit down to make sure you are taking strides in the right direction.  You want to be focused, but some career opportunities can come along and surpass your dreams.  You want to have the flexibility to seize new, great opportunities.

4.  Celebrate your achievements.
Although writing, posting, and re-evaluating goals can seem like quite the chore, there are ways you can make it fun.  Set up rewards for yourself when you reach goals and make positive steps.  These celebrations will keep you energized and pushing forward.

Take the first step in your job search, with your career, and for your dream job by setting small goals today.

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