Top 15 Examples Of Goals For Work & Career Development

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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Looking for a job is already a long journey, but it would be even more exhausting if you wander without a clear goal in mind.

Examples Of Goals For Work

As an experienced mentor at UNI Global Union, I’ve helped millions of fresh graduates and job seekers create actionable career objectives. Here are some examples of workplace goals to help you get started.

Why It’s Important To Set A Professional Goal

Clear Direction

Goals define your desired outcome, and knowing what you’re working towards in the first place will eliminate all unnecessary confusion. You can keep yourself focused on taking each sure step that moves you closer to what you want. 

Plus, it would be easy to prioritize tasks and projects that contribute most significantly to achieving it. If any distraction or opportunity fails to align with your long-term career vision, just decline them confidently.

Personal and Professional Growth

To achieve the goal, you must learn new skills or gain experience in unfamiliar areas. 

The ongoing learning process will keep you sharp and adaptable, a competitive asset in the ever-evolving job market! As you overcome each obstacle with resounding success, you will feel more confident treading through bigger challenges on your future career path. 

Increased Chances Of Getting Hired

67% of participants in my survey at UNI Global Union agreed that well-defined professional goals made them more attractive candidates to potential employers. These goals demonstrate their long-term ambition and extreme commitment to their industry, all of which are highly valued among employers. 

How you discuss your career goals in interviews or networking situations is also a reflection of your excellent strategic thinking. From my experience, the ability to articulate your vision well to others will easily set you apart from the pool of professionals. 

A Source Of Motivation

Marking your goal as “Accomplished” is an incredibly rewarding experience! 

It’s a powerful motivator to set even more ambitious goals and strive for the best in your career. The cycle of setting goals – achievement – setting goals will continue on and on, fuelling steady personal growth and immense pleasure in your exciting professional journey.

See more: 120+ Motivational Quotes For Work

Top 15 Examples Of Professional Goals

1. Get An Internship

Jobs for College Students

With internships, you can finally apply what you have learned in school (or previous jobs) to real-world situations. Here’s your chance to gain industry-specific technical expertise while building on important soft skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving!

Long-term relationships with professionals in your field are another great aspect of an internship. These mentors and supervisors not only give you amazing advice but might also introduce you to golden opportunities. 

Plus, as you learn about the inner workings of the company (different departments, daily operations, work culture, etc.), it will be much easier to make informed decisions regarding your next steps or future job applications.

Goal examples:

  • A teaching internship at a university to gain classroom experience)
  • An internship at a newspaper, magazine, or media outlet to develop writing skills

2. Obtain Higher Degrees

Many leadership roles require (or strongly prefer) candidates with advanced degrees. Pursuing a higher credential demonstrates your extreme dedication and will likely position you for future career advancement! 

In addition, thanks to the deeper expertise and insights gained during the courses, you will tackle complex challenges far more efficiently.

My quick survey at the UNI Global Union indeed reveals a strong correlation between higher education and increased earning potential. A Master’s degree, for example, qualifies you for higher-paying jobs. Ph.D degrees also open doors to many esteemed research or leadership positions.

Goal examples:

  • A Ph.D. in social work or psychology to become a licensed therapist
  • A Master’s degree in engineering management to gain leadership skills and manage engineering projects.

3. Grow Your Professional Network

A strong network opens doors to new opportunities you might not have otherwise found. People in your network will gladly inform you about job openings and potential collaborations or introduce you to key decision-makers. That’s how a lot of UNI Global Union interns landed their current positions.

A strong support system of colleagues and peers is also highly recommended; you should always rely on them for advice, a second helping hand, or simply to bounce ideas together. Most importantly, you can stay updated on industry trends and new developments in your field, learning from others’ experiences to stay ahead of the curve.

And during any job-hunting endeavor, being well-connected will be of great help to your reputation. Companies will likely see you as a more credible candidate than the rest, increasing your chance of getting hired!

Work goal examples:

  • Attend industry conferences and events to connect with established professionals
  • Send 20 friend requests a week on LinkedIn

4. Improve Core Skills

business team discussing project

Strong core skills (communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking) increase productivity in every daily task. Since you can communicate your ideas clearly and get to the root of the problem within the time limit, it’s only to be expected that the results exceed all expectations! 

Don’t forget that core skills are the building blocks for continuous learning. As a confident and reliable professional, you will feel more encouraged to take on new challenges and seek leadership opportunities, ultimately advancing your career. That’s the way to adapt to an ever-changing job market.

Goal examples:

  • Take a course on public speaking skills or join a Toastmasters club
  • Deliver presentations at least once a month

See more: 10+ Good Skills To Put On A Resume

5. Higher Position

Moving up the ladder allows you to take on more challenging projects and strategic decisions. 

You can prove yourself a valuable asset and have a much greater impact on the organization’s success that way. High positions also introduce opportunities to manage people effectively and inspire others; this great personal satisfaction will encourage you to take further steps in your learning path. 

Career goal examples:

  • Secure a promotion to Project Manager within the next 18 months
  • Transition to a Senior Data Analyst role within the next year

6. Higher Salary

Contrary to what some people consider a “shallow work personal objective,” aiming for a higher salary sounds perfectly valid as a motivator! It translates into a better standard of living; you might afford a nicer home, take more vacations, or pursue hobbies that were previously out of reach.

Most importantly, since you can now cover your living expenses, it’s the best time to build savings and potentially invest for your future. Financial security also reduces stress and lets you focus more on your career goals and overall well-being. 

Furthermore, in many cases, the increasing salary reflects your growing value as an employee. It’s proof of how the clients/ professionals in the industry have valued the skills, experience, and contributions you brought to the table thus far.

Note: Though “high position” and “high salary” often come together, their wording reflects different focus points. The “higher salary” goal mostly targets financial compensation, meaning a high professional position is only one of the many ways to achieve this ultimate objective.

Goal examples:

  • Negotiate a 10% salary increase to $75,000 per year
  • Transition to a Senior Marketing Manager role with a potential 15% bonus

See more: How To Answer What Is Your Desired Salary?

Introduce new employee

Industry awards acknowledge your achievements and expertise within your field through rigorous selection criteria. 

It validates all your hard work (not to mention a huge source of motivation and pride) while putting you in the spotlight! You will easily attract attention from all potential employers, clients, or collaborators in the industry and open doors to new opportunities. 

The learning process is also rewarding. When preparing for the contest, you can sit back to identify all areas for improvement, then push yourself to achieve higher and higher professional standards.

Goal examples:

  • Win the ‘Salesperson of the Year’ award within the company
  • Be nominated for the ‘Emerging Leader Award’

8. Learn A Professional Skill Or Tool

success boss and employee

The whole industry landscape is constantly evolving. Even just one small yet relevant new skill can help you stay competitive and adapt to trends! You will breeze through challenges, contribute excellently to every project, and, better yet, qualify for bigger job opportunities.  

Learning new skills usually also involves creative approaches to problem-solving; after all, turning yourself from a beginner to an industry expert is a “problem” that needs effective resolution! Therefore, even though you just signed up for one new skill, your other core talents (such as critical thinking) will also improve drastically.

Goal examples:

  • Enroll in a Python online course
  • Complete the certification exam for the Agile project management methodology

9. Launch A Startup

As a startup founder, you control your destiny! You make the decisions, set the direction, and have the opportunity to build a company culture that reflects your values.

And unlike working for another company, being your own boss requires you to wear many hats, from product development to marketing and finance. You will find yourself changed for the better as you gain impressively more diverse skills in almost every industry-related aspect.

On another note, diving headfirst into your big dream without any plan is rather unwise. 

My survey at UNI Global Union revealed a startup is more likely to take off if you can break down your launch process into achievable milestones with timelines. Do your research well, and don’t forget to surround yourself with talented and passionate individuals whose skill sets complement yours. 

Goal examples:

  • Launch a mobile app that simplifies grocery shopping for busy professionals.
  • Found a sustainable clothing brand that uses recycled materials

10. Be A Mentor

Examples Of Leadership At Work

This one is among the most common personal goals for work. Through mentorship programs, you will instantly be connected to many individuals from the same field. These professional relationships are very likely to lead to exciting collaborations or career opportunities! 

Contrary to popular belief, mentoring is actually a two-way street; you also learn from your mentee’s fresh ideas and industry knowledge. If you are eyeing a leadership position, being someone’s mentor is the best way to master providing encouragement and constructive feedback.

Goal examples:

  • Mentor one junior female software engineer on technical skills and career advancement
  • Offer career advice to one recent graduate from your program and help them build their professional network.

11. Have A New Work Habit

New habits teach you how to organize your tasks and prioritize errands effectively. Long story short, you will need less time to accomplish more! 

Also, as these tasks are automated via practicing habits, you free up mental energy for more important decisions and need far less effort to focus your brain for defined periods. This results in much better performances with only half the stress.

Goal examples:

  • Start a daily journaling practice
  • Publish one high-quality blog post every other week

12. Pursue A Dream Job

Dream jobs always give us a sense of immense fulfillment. I’m a mentor and manager at UNI Global Union and enjoy every second. After all, I’m working in a role that aligns exactly with my passions and values; work feels less like a chore and more like a very enjoyable hobby.

Having a clear vision of your ideal career path also keeps you highly motivated and focused on taking steps toward it. It fuels your desire to gain new skills/ relevant experience and seize the chance to network anytime you spot one!

Most importantly, dream jobs help contribute to a social cause you’re truly passionate about. Let’s say you are an active LGBT ally; being an esteemed journalist or activist will allow you to make positive impacts while feeling a deeper sense of purpose in everything you do.

Goal examples: 

  • Become a Head Chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant
  • Secure a position as a Robotics Engineer at a leading aerospace company

13. Establish Your Personal Brand

A strong personal brand makes you more visible within the industry. Potential employers can easily find you amidst the noise and understand your value proposition! 

And since you have successfully positioned yourself as a credible expert, your personal brand will likely attract like-minded individuals and collaborators. As we already agreed, expanding networks always opens doors to new horizons. 

Note: Personal brands and startups are not the same. 

Opening a startup is to launch and grow a new business that offers a particular product or service. On the other hand, personal brands focus more on yourself – as an individual professional – to increase your recognition among industry professionals. 

Goal examples:

  • Publish one well-researched article on cybersecurity every month on your professional website.
  • Build a strong presence on Twitter and share valuable content related to EdTech.

14. Reduce Downtime At Work

Reduced downtime means getting more done in less time; you can complete tasks faster and free up your schedule for new challenges! Teamwork projects also see drastic improvements now that every member knows how to optimize their own schedule. 

In some cases (for example, your startup), excessive downtime might directly impact operational costs. Learning to control workplace distractions may seem trivial, but it will certainly benefit the organization’s overall well-being in the long run. 

Workplace goal examples:

  • Reduce time spent waiting for responses to emails by 20%
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique with 25-minute focused work sessions and short breaks

15. Pursue A Career Change

Today’s job market demands a high degree of adaptability, and a new career path can be a great response to that challenge. You will be exposed to new obstacles and work environments that push you to handle situations from new angles. As you adjust and improve, so do your critical thinking and problem-solving skills! 

A new professional network is also in the picture: fresh faces, fresh relationships, and fresh job opportunities.

Plus, if you are unhappy with your current career, there’s no reason to sit back and take it all in. Joining another industry is a brilliant way to actively address your current dilemma and seek a better professional experience in the long run.

Goal examples:

  • Shift your career from accounting to a role in environmental sustainability
  • Transition from a paralegal role to an Intellectual Property Lawyer

How To Set Up Your Goal

Step 1. Define Your Ideal Job

goals in work career

First, brainstorm and research career paths that align with your interests and personality. Otherwise, a misaligned job will only frustrate and burn you out in the long run, not to mention a huge waste of time and resources! 

If necessary, consider talking to professionals to gain more insights into the realities of the job (potentials, challenges, specific skills required, etc.) 

Step 2. Know Yourself

Sit back and assess a comprehensive list of your skills, both technical and soft, as they are the foundation upon which you will build your career. 

It would be even better if you could reflect on specific past experiences that showcase your strengths and weaknesses. They are also valuable evidence to support your resume! 

Step 3. Use The SMART Formula

Vague goals are very difficult to track; plus, they lack the motivational power to keep you going. Always make sure yours are clear, actionable, and have a defined timeframe for completion!

Here’s a simple example of a SMART goal: Obtain a Ph.D degree in Psychology within 18 months to become a therapist. 

It’s measurable (the Ph.D degree), relevant to the long-term goal (becoming a therapist), and time-bound (within 18 months). Creating a focused action plan based on this professional development goal would be straightforward.

See more: How Do You Define Success In Workplace?


These achievable goals will guide your entire career path. I can’t promise overnight success, but at least you will know for sure where you are headed! Feel free to contact me if you need further advice on your professional life.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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