Strategic Planning for Career Success: Goal Setting

Once you have completed your personal assessment and major/career exploration, it’s time to move on to step three of your career plan: goal setting. Using the S.M.A.R.T method to develop both short and long-term goals will set you up for career success. What does it mean to create S.M.A.R.T goals?

Goals should be SPECIFIC.  “I want a job when I graduate” is too general. Drill down further to identify more specific goals, revisiting your assessment and exploration. An example of a better goal is, “I want a job with a Big 4 accounting firm, working in audit and living in Chicago.”

Goals should be MEASURABLE. It is important to identify clear objectives so you can measure progress towards your goals “I will secure an internship in audit with a Big 4 accounting firm” is a good goal, but how will you get there? Setting up smaller, measurable goals is the answer. “I will attend five campus recruiting events sponsored by Big 4 accounting firms” is measurable, as you will know you have reached your goal upon attending five events.

Goals should be ATTAINABLE. Are your goals reasonable? Are you willing and able to accomplish your goals? It is important to address these questions when goal setting so you don’t set yourself up for failure.

Goals should be RELEVANT. Your goals should be related to the direction you want your career to take. It is important that your short-term and long-term goals are in sync.

Goals should be TIMELY. Setting deadlines for achievement of goals will keep you on track. What do you want to achieve and when do you want to achieve it? Seeing the finish line, so to speak, will motivate you to work towards completion of your goals.

In addition to following the S.M.A.R.T. method when goal setting, it is important to be flexible. Life happens, career changes happen, and priorities change. As such, your goals may change (and that is okay).

Stay tuned for next week’s post where I will discuss step four of creating your career plan: the personal S.W.O.T. analysis.


Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for the Undergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion within the Music & Entertainment industry. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Related posts:

  1. Strategic Planning for Career Success: The Personal SWOT Analysis
  2. Strategic Planning for Career Success: Exploration
  3. Strategic Planning for Career Success: Assessment

One Response to “Strategic Planning for Career Success: Goal Setting”

  1. Wow, interesting article on setting smart goals,thanks a lot

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