Bucket list for new beginnings:
How to conquer your goals and create the career of your dreams
If you’re looking to find your purpose, or even if you’re on a professional pause and feel the need to pivot, the tips below will help tackle your to-do list, hit your targets, and do so within your timeline.
Read on to learn the many ways you can embrace your talents, enhance your skills, and discover a passionate career you’re proud to call your own.
Align your professional goals to your interests and passions
To keep accountable for your accomplishments and actualize your success, visualize your career into existence. Using vision boards and imagery tools can easily connect tasks to your emotions — and this strategy can increase motivation to make your goals happen.
Additionally, taking personality tests like Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator or the Enneagram Institute® Personality Test enhances a deeper understanding of who you are and what you bring to the table.
You can even start brainstorming your career calling by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are my hobbies?
- What are my innate talents?
- What skills do I have to develop?
- What hours of work-life balance do I want?
- What type of company or organization (if any) do I want to work for?
- What challenges me?
- What sacrifices am I, or am I not, willing to make?
- What are the educational requirements for the job I want?
Still need help getting started?
Try setting specific goals using the SMART goals framework:
- Specify your goal.
- E.g., “I will earn my Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL).”
- Measure the objective you want to accomplish in increments.
- E.g., “I will complete the program in 20 months and start classes online part time.”
- Action-oriented to-do’s lead to accomplished tasks.
- Realistic/relevant goals keep things in focus.
- E.g., “Earning my MSOL will help me in my career and give me the confidence I need to be a leader in any profession.”
- Time-based tasks set a time-frame for success.
Tips to get your résumé and cover letter to the top of the pile
Once you’ve found a job posting that you’re interested in pursuing, use the pointers below to help you along in the process.
- Avoid “To Whom It May Concern” and personalize the addressee in your cover letter, if possible.
- In your cover letter, include what skillsets you can offer the company and incorporate how your moral compass aligns with the organization’s mission statement and values.
- Give your cover letter some character and show off your personality. Tie your personal passions to your professional self to stand out. For example, if you’re applying for a Human Services position, it may evoke a positive response from the reader if you added in something to the effect of, “Ever since I was a child, I knew I loved to help people. I would help my grandmother around her house as she grew older, and as I aged, I became more appreciative of the mentorship connections I made with the younger people in my community.”
- Tailor your résumé and cover letter to the company. Maximize your opportunities by optimizing your documents to match key terms throughout the job posting.
- Incorporate the company mission statement and values into your cover letter. Be prepared to speak to the mission during the interview and why it is a good fit for you professionally.
- Integrate numerical data and figures that highlight your achievements.
- Proofread first for spelling and grammar and convert the documents into PDFs before submitting.
Interview steps to self-promote: The power of being prepared
Talking yourself up isn’t always an easy thing to do — but if you’re confident, prepared, patient, and consider yourself as interviewing the employer, too, this could help to ease any first-impression job jitters. Below are bullet points to help your chances of a career call back.
- Before the interview, create a list of projects you’re proud to discuss.
- Be prepared to speak to strengths and skill sets that you could bring to the organization. Be specific.
- Make a list of 3-5 stories or anecdotes from past work experiences that demonstrate your ability to work through challenging situations. Be prepared to share short stories and provide some level of detail. Keep in mind that good stories can be “sticky” and help the interviewer to remember you.
- Research the company’s history and leadership team — try to squeeze a piece of your research into the conversation casually.
- Make a list of 3-5 interview questions to ask the interviewer. Come up with at least one fun, creative question to break the ice.
- Dress professionally, regardless of the company’s dress code policy.
- Bring extra copies of your résumé and a padfolio and pen to take notes.
- If applicable, arrive 15 minutes early!
- Show up as your authentic self, be mindful of your body language, and smile.
- After meeting with your potential team, send a neatly-written thank you note to the interviewer(s) — bonus points if you mention a point in the conversation that connected the two of you.
- Follow up a few days after your interview via email expressing your continued interest in the position.
Engage in your workplace environment: Take a genuine interest in your team
Once you’ve accepted an employer’s formal offer, don’t consider the interview process over! There are still interpersonal connections that are pivotal for people skills, problem-solving, and your professional progress.
- In the first few months, ask questions about your role, aim to meet new people (including those outside your department), and accept that you will make mistakes as a part of the learning process.
- Find common ground with those on your team and be kind to everyone.
- Even though you’re a beginner in your position, brainstorm ways to improve your function’s productivity and efficiency. Your new eye on tasks at hand can lead to subtle yet substantial improvements.
- Compliment worthwhile characteristics you notice in your new coworkers.
- Don’t forget to temper your expectations, too — everyone is human, and you may need to adjust your communication style accordingly for different personality types.
Be continually proactive about your professional career!
To further your future success, never consider your career path complete. Always aspire to improve and watch what you can accomplish next!
- Look for leadership opportunities in your current position.
- Participate in networking events or volunteer. Talk about your career over coffee or lunch and engage in informal “informational” interviews with industry experts. Make connections with coaches, mentors, and professionals who will help you stay on the right path and provide careful, constructive criticism.
- Sign up for something that scares you. Go beyond your comfort zone to build a skill like public speaking. Gain confidence during the process and construct a new talent along the way.
- Create a professional online presence — join LinkedIn, build a professional portfolio or website, or write/read enlightening blog articles to help build your brand.
- Always keep your options open — examine new opportunities even if you enjoy your current role — set job alerts for companies that catch your interest and pay attention to the particular skills new positions seek.
- Set specific daily job goals to keep you motivated and create a three and five-year career trajectory.
- Advance your academics and strengthen your skillsets. Designate time for professional development (credentials, conferences, degrees, training sessions, and workshops).
- Reevaluate your goals often — dedicate time to review your progress and remind yourself of the reasons why you’re working toward those goals.
Professionally pay it forward: Give back while grasping for more
As a lifelong learner of your industry, share your insights with others just starting out! Mentor students and young professionals with career advice, guidance, and resources. Career mentorship can be especially essential for first-generation students who do not have professional guidance from their parents. This process can also help you reflect on your journey, knowledge, and abilities while inspiring you to make an impact in your industry.
Personal go-to’s for professional gains
Ingrained habits can quickly creep into your career if you’re not careful. Consider the bullet points below to have a healthy balance of personal and professional success.
- Do away with distractions. Declutter your desk, reduce multi-tasking, and take regular breaks.
- Find balance in the give and take. Make sure you’re not overworking and sacrificing time with your loved ones.
- Let go of constrained beliefs, learned expectations, and mental barriers. Surround yourself with supportive people and celebrate the small career wins.
- Plan ahead — don’t let fear, perfectionism, procrastination, or feeling overwhelmed alter your outcomes. Persevere and remain positive!
- Stay on top of your physical and mental health, too. This way, when the opportunity comes, you’re ready to tackle the next big steps in your lifelong career journey.
Earning your degree from Goodwin University can take you to new places academically, personally, and professionally.
Interested in learning more? Visit: www.goodwin.edu/learnmore.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.