8 Career Goal Ideas (With Definition, Benefits And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 October 2022

Published 12 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As professionals advance in their careers, they set career goals for tracking their progress. Some of these goals include learning new skills, starting a new business, earning passive income or obtaining additional credentials. Setting career goals can keep you focused on your objectives, track your progress and help stay motivated. In this article, we discuss 8 career goal ideas, explain why they are important and give some examples to help you get started.

Related: What Is A Career Goal Statement? Importance And 10 Examples

8 Career Goal Ideas

Understanding the definition of a career goal is essential before exploring some career goal ideas. The purpose of career goals is to help professionals advance within a particular field or company. Individuals set career goals with a time frame to motivate them to keep working towards their goals. For example, if your career goal is to start a company that provides writing services, you might outline a long-term plan, develop entrepreneur skills, enhance your communication skills and learn to manage your finances.

With the SMART formula, you can set actionable, attainable and realistic goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Professionals use it to develop career goals and track their success. Listed below are some ideas for career goals you can use to develop your own:

1. Become proficient in a skill

Professionals often strive to master a particular skill. This may include hard skills, such as technical abilities needed for a role and soft skills, such as communication skills, time management and organisational skills. Improving your current skills and learning new ones can enhance your credibility within your field, give you the opportunity to advance your career, increase your earning potential and provide leadership opportunities.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide

2. Network with professionals

Having contacts in the industry can provide professionals with valuable insights. They may also receive recommendations for jobs or be able to find employment through these connections. You can consider attending seminars and conferences or joining a professional networking site to network with industry experts and other professionals. Connecting with other professionals allows you to gain insight into market trends, learn about companies you can work for, find out about ongoing research and development and learn about upcoming technologies. Over time, you can also create meaningful relationships and build lifelong friendships.

Social media managers, for example, can consider attending virtual events, attending meet-ups and social media strategies summits. This can help them network with other professionals in the field, such as content creators, marketing managers, influencers and advertisers.

3. Start a new business

Starting a business is a good option for creative people and people with entrepreneurial skills. Being able to work when and how you want and to create products and services of your own is rewarding. It is imperative to conduct extensive research before you start a business to gain a better understanding of the market, customers and competitors. Learn about the aspects of running a business and get in touch with other professionals who may be able to assist you.

Related: 7 Steps For Creating A Successful Goal-Setting Process

4. Earn passive income

In addition to your full-time job, you can consider multiple sources of income. It can be a great way to earn an extra income, which can aid in paying off debts and maintaining financial security. You can earn a passive income in several ways, such as having long-term investments, drop shipping, affiliate marketing, content creation, stock trading or investing in real estate. In some cases, you may require gaining new skills and broadening your network.

Related: 20 Side Jobs For Generating Additional Income

5. Obtain a certification

You can aim to obtain additional credentials or certifications based on your chosen career path. Consider completing mini-projects and quizzes throughout the course to enhance your knowledge in your area of interest and earn a certification. A certification can serve to establish your expertise and credibility while helping you receive a higher salary and promotion. It may be helpful to seek advice from industry experts and seniors when selecting certification courses.

For instance, as an IT engineer, if your company needs engineers proficient in deep learning and model deployment, you can increase your earning potential by learning and taking certification courses that improve your coding skills, teach you end-to-end model deployment and help you become proficient in deep learning.

6. Earn a higher salary

Professionals often aim to earn a higher salary or acquire new skills to increase their earning potential. Earning higher salaries can lead to a better lifestyle, financial security and access to better facilities, among other advantages. By taking on leadership roles that require you to oversee activities, make informed decisions and lead large teams to accomplish tasks, you can receive a higher salary.

If you are self-employed, you can increase your earning potential by expanding your client base, learning new skills and delivering quality work to your clients. A career goals worksheet can help you stay focused by defining your goals, listing the steps you would require to take, identifying challenges you might face and creating a timeline to stay on track.

Related: Leadership Roles (With Examples And Functions Of Leadership)

7. Work for a specific company or organisation

Most professionals have an idea of the type of company they would like to work for. Some people may want to work for a specific company because of its values, learning opportunities, higher salary, positive work environment or the products and services it provides. As one of your career objectives, you can conduct research on companies that you would like to work for, learn about its values and vision and explore different learning opportunities they provide.

For instance, you wish to work for an organisation that encourages inclusion and diversity. To begin your search, find companies whose values align with your own and look for employment opportunities there.

Related: How To Write A Career Goal Statement In 6 Steps (With Tips)

8. Create an innovative product or service

It is the goal of some professionals to revolutionise their industries by creating new products, services or methods. These goals can help foster innovation and drive creativity. Bringing new ideas to the industry can help improve standards and provide opportunities for additional earnings. You can file for patents that can add credibility to your work and help you earn additional income each time someone uses your product.

For example, if you are a machine learning engineer, you can create a voice-activated system to help blind people navigate and alert them to danger. This career goal can help you contribute to society and establish you as an expert in your field.

Why Are Career Goals Important?

As you advance in your career, career goals motivate and inspire you to become proficient and achieve excellence. Your career goals also give you an overall sense of purpose. Additionally, defining them can help you remain more focused and reduce career-related stress. When you reach milestones and achieve goals, you feel gratified and satisfied.

Related: How To Set And Achieve Long-Term Goals (With Examples)

Additional Tips To Set Career Goals

Depending on your educational interests, career ambitions and financial situation, you might have different career goals. Below are some suggestions for creating your career goals:

  • Make your goals a learning opportunity. By setting goals that encourage you to learn and improve, you can reach your maximum potential.

  • Ask for feedback. Consider asking for feedback from your mentor or colleagues to identify areas of improvement. As an example, if you wish to improve your coding skills, you can ask your colleagues to review your code and suggest any changes.

  • Seek support from family and friends. When you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty concentrating, you can seek support from your family and friends.

  • Maintain a career goals worksheet. Keeping track of your career goals in a career goal worksheet or a planner helps you stay focused on your goals and motivates you to work towards achieving them.

  • Track your progress. It is essential to track your progress periodically to determine how close you are to achieving your goal. Monitoring your progress can help you stay motivated and disciplined.

Related: Answering 'What Is Your Goal In Life?' Interview Question

Explore more articles