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Setting Career Goals as a Recent Grad

October 27, 2017

Ask the Right Questions

To get a clear understanding of your career goals, you need to sit down and do some self-reflection. Brittany, a hiring expert from Manpower Group, offers these questions to get you started: “What do you want from your career? What are you good at and what do you enjoy? What is the  company you would like to work for in need of? The first thing to do is to honestly reflect over these questions and start writing down your answers. If you are unsure or do not like your own responses, now is the perfect time to start researching and strengthening your skills.” 1


Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

Once you think about these questions, you can take your answers and translate them into goals. Start with short-term goals, which are goals you hope to accomplish in the next 12 months or less. Perhaps you need to learn a new skill, earn another certification, or update your resume. The key to a good short-term goal is that it is attainable and you give yourself a time limit to achieve it. 


After you identify the things you want to accomplish in the near future, it’s time to start thinking more long term. Bryan, a hiring expert from IBM, asks “Where would you ideally like to be in five, ten, even twenty years from now? It is important to not only know your short-term goals, but also set long-term goals for yourself as a professional. While these may be subject to change, having a general idea of where you see yourself in life professionally will help you to succeed.” 2 Well thought out long-term goals will help you keep yourself accountable and make sure you are moving forward on the track that you want to be on.


Ask for Help

If you are having trouble setting goals, don’t be afraid to ask for help. People that you work with are great resources, because they already know you in a professional setting and may be familiar with what you want to accomplish professionally. Ashley, a hiring expert from Textron, points out that “your manager or mentor could help you identify some areas of improvement you did not see and also help you set the necessary goals and steps needed to improve that  specific area.” 3 It can be really helpful to have another perspective when setting goals.  Take advantage of your relationship with your manager, co-worker or  mentor to gain extra insight into your career goals.


Remember, setting goals is only the beginning. Once you have set your short-term and long-term goals, you need to be constantly working towards accomplishing them. Align your short-term goals with your bigger, long-term goals so that each short-term goal you check off ultimately gets you closer to achieving your long-term career goals. Find a way to keep yourself accountable, whether it be a monthly check-in to see how you’re doing or asking a friend or mentor to help you. A mix of asking the right questions, organizing your goals, and getting professional input will greatly help you develop in your professional career and help you to excel in your professional life.



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