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Developing a career goal is a great way to take charge of planning your career and a useful tool to manage your career effectively. Many individuals may not know how to develop a career goal.  Following the steps below will help you determine where to start. There are a few steps that can be helpful in determining your career goal, which include conducting a self-assessment, exploring industries and careers, and determining factors that are non-negotiable (e.g., geographic location, salary requirements, and health care benefits). The final step of goal setting is writing your goal.               

Step 1: Self-Assessment –In your initial paragraph, answer the following reflective questions:  

  • What do you do well?
  • What energizes you?
  • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
  • What high school subjects did you do well in?
  • What issues do family and friends come to you for help?
  • What do you receive praise for at work or home?
  • What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
  • What is something you do where you lose track of time when you are doing it?

Step 2: Career Exploration
Explore job industries by conducting research on the type of careers that use your interests and skillset. O*Net OnLine, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and Bureau of Labor Statisticsare great web resources for career exploration, job analysis, and education requirements.  

In your second paragraph, answer the following questions:

  • Does the career you want pay a salary that meets your needs?
  • Will you need any additional training or schooling?
  • Will it offer you opportunities to advance?  
  • Is the career you are considering likely to exist when you are ready for a job?

Step 3: Determining Your Non-Negotiable Items
Although we may not speak them aloud, we each have things we are not willing to compromise on. During this step, write out your “must haves” for your future career.

To help get you started, think about the minimum salary you need to have, where you want to live, and desired work hours.  Copy and paste the following table directly after your explanation of Step 2, and complete each section.

Must Have
Do Not Want
1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.

Step 4: Pulling it all together – Write your goal

Now that you have conducted a self-assessment, explored industries and occupations, and written down your non-negotiable items, what is your future career goal?  As you enter your chosen field, it is important that you return to and reflect on your original goal often, so having your goal written down is an important step for future reflection.

In your third and final paragraph, state your career goal. Be as specific as possible.  The following is an example of a specific career goal:
I would like to become the director of a large childcare facility utilizing my organizational skills, my education in child development, my ability to work well with others, my leadership qualities, and my love of children. Since I have a family, I must have a salary of $30,000 or more, work within 15 miles of Phoenix, Arizona, and work a traditional work schedule.Carefully review the Grading Rubricfor the criteria that will be used to evaluate your journal entry

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