Become a Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)®. Enroll today to advance your career!
Login to your new FMVA dashboard today!

Career Goal

A well-defined statement explaining the profession that an individual intends to pursue in his career

What is a Career Goal?

A career goal is a well-defined statement explaining the profession that an individual intends to pursue throughout his career. It is important for every employee or job seeker to define their career goals clearly. It helps them to come up with effective action plans.


Career Goal


Setting unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment. But it does not necessarily mean that one should avoid formulating career goals altogether. Creating resolutions is the easiest way to keep oneself motivated to achieve their dreams.


Breaking Down Career Goals

Setting career goals is an incredibly easy process. All one needs to do is to set targets for himself. The personal objectives will ultimately lead them to achieve their end goals.

To illustrate the concept, consider a 17-year old who wants to become a CEO of a large engineering company in the future. He must go through several stages, the first being passing his 12th-grade exams. After passing, the teenager will then enroll in a four-year engineering course before moving to work in a multinational company for at least two years. Next, he will enroll in a management course from a reputable school. Advancing his studies is a good idea to boost his chances of getting the CEO position.


Short-term vs. Long-term Career Goals

As shown in the illustration above, there are short-term and long-term goals. The teenager’s primary objective is to become the manager of a company. In order to get there, he needs to achieve his short-term goals, which include passing his high-school and college exams, gaining experience by working for a related company, and boosting his experience and skills through further studies.

Short-term goals are those that can be achieved within six months to three years. Contrary, it takes three to five years to achieve long-term goals. But an individual can also accomplish his short-term goals in a shorter time, and the long-term goals can take more than five years.


How to Set Career Goals

Defining career goals is just half the battle. An individual must set his mind on accomplishing the goals he sets. However, if one doesn’t develop or map out his goals properly, it will be even harder to achieve them. When setting career goals, an individual should ensure that they meet the following criteria:


1. Specific

When setting goals, an individual shouldn’t just focus on being successful. Instead, he should define what success means to him. Success for one person may be a milestone to achieving bigger goals for a different person. For one individual, success may be becoming the chief executive officer for a company. But for another, success can be attaining financial freedom.


2. Measurable

As one sets his career goals, he should ensure that he also comes up with a way to measure their outcome. For example, it can be done by setting a timeframe. Once the individual is able to attain the short-term goals within the timeframe he sets, then he’s on the right path to achieving his ultimate goal.


3. Avoid negativity

A goal must be something that an individual wants rather than a factor he wants to avoid. So, instead of focusing on leaving a particular job or position within the next five years, the employee should aim at developing his skills during this time.


4. Realistic

More than anything, an individual’s career goals must be realistic. It wouldn’t make sense for an individual to set a goal of winning a Grammy award if he’s never performed or played an instrument.

On the other hand, the individual setting goals shouldn’t keep things too simple. A career roadmap should be able to challenge a person, not a walk in the park. If the individual’s goals don’t make him a little bit uncomfortable, then he should set higher limits.


5. Tie actions to each goal

For each set goal, a person needs to take certain measures to achieve it. Listing the different activities that are needed to achieve a goal makes the whole process easy.


How to Achieve Career Goals


1. Write them down

It may seem like an old-school technique, but it’s actually very effective. Based on several studies, individuals who write down their career goals see a higher likelihood of achieving them compared to those who don’t.

There are several benefits to writing down one’s goals. For one, an individual is forced to think critically on how to achieve each goal.


2. Share the plan

Another perk of writing down career goals is that it makes it easy to share them with friends, colleagues, or even a manager. When an individual discloses his short and long-term career goals to other people, he feels more challenged to follow them through to the end.


3. Visualize success

One thing that high achievers do is to visualize their success. Sports psychologists often ask their top athletes to envision themselves crossing that finish line or kicking the field goal. It’s the same concept with career goals. One should think about all the steps he needs to reach his goal and plan for the setbacks that he may encounter.


The Bottom Line

A career goal is all about setting short-term and long-term objectives related to one’s career path. Short-term goals can be reached with three years or less while long-term ones take longer.

Setting career goals is important as it compels individuals to accomplish them. It is particularly so when the person shares their plans with a third party. He will do everything he can to achieve the targets to avoid disappointing the people they’re accountable to.


Related Readings

CFI offers the Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ certification program for those looking to take their careers to the next level. To keep learning and advancing your career, the following resources will be helpful:

  • Interview Tips – How to Interview Well
  • Reasons for Leaving
  • SMART Goal
  • Top Finance Certifications

FMVA certification program

Advance your career in investment banking, private equity, FP&A, treasury, corporate development and other areas of corporate finance.

Get certified as a financial analyst with CFI’s FMVA™ Program.