15 Professional Development and Career Goals (With Examples)

Goal setting doesn’t need to take place at the same time every year. You can decide to align yourself with a big goal any time. And while having a goal isn’t enough to drive you to success (you’re going to need to build some habits), it can be what guides you to a better version of yourself or at least a better future in your career. In this article, we’re going to share some professional development and career goals for you to consider for 2024.

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15 Professional Development and Career Goals

1. Learn a new work-task skill set

One of the career goals you can set for yourself is to learn some new work-related skills. In most industries, technology, algorithm updates, and tools change so frequently that you constantly need to adapt and grow your skill set. Take some time to learn some new tricks or trends to really help you get an advantage to mastering your current role at work. When new technologies are introduced, instead of being weary or skeptical of it, do a deep dive in learning all aspects of it to really help you elevate your skill set.

For example, a writer might learn how to use AI in their work to help them boost their work without taking anything away from their hard work and craft.

2. Improve your communication skills

When it comes to professional development goals improving your communication skills can be a huge value add. Communication skills aren’t only for the blunt. They’re also helpful for people who tend to think out loud and may miscommunicate or people who don’t speak up when they notice something is wrong. Learning what your communication weaknesses are can help you improve how you communicate with your peers. All you need to do is ask someone on your team or a superior for feedback to communicate better.

When looking at personal goals examples, a person who’s abrasive who learns how to communicate more tactfully and positively to their peers will likely see an improvement in their relationships at work and at home as well. The benefits of communicating in a positive and constructive manner can help them strengthen all of their relationships.

3. Build stronger relationships with colleagues

Your professional goals can be as simple as strengthening your relationships with colleagues. You can do this in a number of ways, from supporting their own career goals to vouching for them in meetings. Telling people you appreciate their work ethic or would love to learn their process for how they approach their problem can help people on your team feel valued. On a more personal level, you can celebrate birthdays, have 1:1s with colleagues, and keep a positive attitude around them. Overall, avoiding gossip can help you build trust with your team.

A career goals example is to make an effort to give positive feedback in every meeting with your team. Building that positive feedback as a habit can help people feel appreciated. It’ll also make it easier for others to hear and process negative feedback when necessary.

4. Support leadership in their ideas

Often, people want to feel like their ideas and opinions are heard. In a team dynamic, it’s important for everyone on the team to align to a specific goal or vision. When leadership shares their ideas or game plan, you need to know when to trust their ideas and go all in. To grow in a company, supporting leadership is important for your career growth. So, working towards aligning yourself to their vision will enable you to drive the results they’re looking for to build that relationship.

Examples of career goals when it comes to supporting leadership is to hit their targets. If a senior leader gives you a revenue or sales target to hit, you could reverse engineer those numbers by trying to figure out how many sales emails to send or what sort of tasks you’ll need to produce.

5. Manage your time more effectively

Professional development goals aimed at time management can help produce enormous results in terms of your impact. If you find yourself constantly checking social media or reading forums at work, you might not be able to produce the necessary results at work to lead you towards a promotion or pay raise. Improving your time management skills can have great results in helping you achieve other career goals.

One of the career goals examples you can set is to stop doom scrolling at work. You can use website blockers to help you reduce the impulse to check social media, news sites, or forums during the workday to help you become more productive.

6. Develop leadership skills

Career strategies like advancement can be one of the career goals you set for yourself. Whether you’re hoping to land your first leadership role or hoping to finally advance into the C-Suite, there’s always new skills within leadership you can develop. For your first leadership role, you might read leadership books to help you move from thinking tactically to strategically. As you advance, you might learn more in-depth ways to think about strategy.

A professional development goal example is learning how to delegate tasks to peers, creating processes to help team members achieve their goals, and being a resource people naturally go to, to learn from.

7. Network with people in your industry

Establishing yourself in your industry can be a great career goal to set for yourself. Of course, this goal will require the habit of meeting many people, building relationships with them, earning their trust, staying in contact with them, and helping them on their journey more than asking for favors. When it comes to networking, most people focus on what they can get instead of what they can give. Changing your mindset to give more than you take can help you flourish and expand your network fast.

Examples of career goals you can set are to attend more networking events, to interact with more people on LinkedIn in your field, or to have virtual coffee chats with people in your field to learn as much as possible.

8. Further your education

If you’ve been thinking about leaving a job, you might be considering an all around career change. Maybe the field you’re in isn’t really what you thought it would be or the industry is dying as a whole. Either way, furthering your education in another field or industry can be one of the career goals that improves your career prospects and takes you to the next level.

Career goals examples for furthering education can be enrolling and completing in a bootcamp program, taking a college program online, or watching educational videos to learn a new skill.

9. Read more customer support emails

One of the career goals that’ll make you better at work is to spend more time reading customer support emails. Reading what customers have to say about your business, product, or service can give you insights in how to create a better product, experience, or solution for customers. No matter what your role is in the company, you’ll be able to draw insights from customers to really have a positive impact on your success.

For example, a developer can set career goals around solving customer pain points. By reading support emails, they can quickly identify bugs, potential new products to create, and features to add to the product to create a more cohesive experience for customers at a company while improving their skill set and portfolio.

10. Find a mentor

No matter how senior you are in a company, there’s always someone above you or equal to that you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, and who can give you the feedback you need to grow. If you’re a senior leader, you might ask for mentorship from senior leaders in the chain above you. Alternatively, you might ask senior leaders at other companies for their advice and strategies for growing. Asking someone to mentor you, show you the ropes, and help you think more strategically. Being able to zoom out and look at the big picture will help you tremendously when it comes to helping you grow, sometimes you just need to meet someone who will teach you how to do that perspective shift.

A career goal example for mentorship could include attending networking events in your industry and getting advice from senior leaders. Alternatively, you can ask people within your company if they have any advice that can help you personally elevate to the next level. If someone sees blocks or missteps you’re doing, they’ll be better able to give you specific ideas on how you can unblock your own growth.

11. Enhance your growth mindset

A fixed mindset is where you think your traits and personality are fixed or in other words unchangeable. A growth mindset is where you know you can learn new skills and develop and improve existing characteristics about yourself. If you’re thinking about or evaluating your professional career goals, understanding how to develop yourself by learning new things and understanding that you are changeable will help you cross the boundaries that you’re trapped in. Whether you’ve got a fear of the unknown or of letting go of a past version of yourself, your ability to take on a growth mindset will help you take your career to new heights.

A professional goal you can set is to read more books about growth mindsets for you to dig deep in how you can shift your thinking to be more growth-oriented. You might also take a growth mindset course or partner with a growth mindset coach.

12. Take on the unpleasant tasks

In your career, there will be two types of people: colleagues who do fun work and colleagues who don’t. In every career path, there’s good and bad work to do. But sometimes, that less exciting project is important to do and can still yield key results for your company. Rolling up your sleeves to do some boring tasks like tracking data, pulling up reports, creating new processes, fixing a series of pages or bugs, can feel kinda tiresome. But those tasks can help solve bottlenecks in the business, improve company performance, or help the company achieve its overall targets.

A professional development goal example is to ask leadership what tasks on their plate are important to them but have been deprioritized due to a lack of bandwidth. Helping your senior leaders with their priorities by doing some grunt work can be beneficial in your career.

13. Become an expert in company tools

When it comes to professional development goals, being the jack of all trades can win you some brownie points. Often, most employees don’t know how to use or access tools. So they’ll ask their colleague to help upload something for them or they’ll need an engineer to code something before they can complete their task. Taking the initiative to really understand your company tools can make you an invaluable resource at the company. People will often turn to you for help solidifying your position at the company.

A career goals example is to take an online course or watch YouTube videos about your company tools. Taking some time each week to understand the software or tools your company has on a deep level to become autonomous will allow you to complete tasks efficiently.

14. Improve upon your weaknesses

Most people recommend doubling-down on your strengths and minimizing or outsourcing your weaknesses. This can be helpful advice in some cases. However, if you turn to that growth mindset we were talking about earlier, your weaknesses actually can all be improved upon. Learning and mastering your weaknesses will help you grow and develop as a person. By investing in your weaknesses, you can grow into becoming a powerhouse of a person. Reflecting on those weaknesses can be an uncomfortable experience, especially if you’re ashamed of your flaws. Still, it’s better to fix those flaws than to keep them around.

One of the career goals examples is to take time for reflection, pick up on how people treat you, listen to how people describe you, and focus on improving your weaknesses. Pay attention to things you’ve struggled with at work and aim to try out new habits to make overcoming those weaknesses a breeze. If it feels unnatural at first, good you’re on the right track.

15. Ask for more feedback

Getting feedback from superiors and colleagues months before performance reviews will help ensure you have time to implement feedback but also not be blinded by anything when a review comes in. The secret to asking for feedback is to email or Slack your manager telling them that you’d like to get their feedback on your performance in a week and you’d like them to come prepared with thoughtful ideas on areas you can improve on. If you catch someone off-guard their answers will be limited, so give people advance notice and time to prepare for the meeting.

Career goals can only be achieved by knowing what’s working and what’s not. When you ask for more feedback, you can set goals targeted at improving your missteps and doubling down on your strengths to become a great person to work with who can yield results.

What career goals are you setting in 2024?

If your professional development or career goals require you to leave your job to pursue growth opportunities, use Huntr’s job search tool to help you land more interviews and job interviews by using our resume builder, AI cover letter, and more create ATS-friendly resumes that get noticed by recruiters. You can also use Huntr to organize your job search, auto-fill applications, and more. Sign up for Huntr today!