Intentionally set job search goals are ones that you set with purpose and that are actually attainable for you given the right focus, attention, and commitment. You may already be familiar with SMART goals. SMART is an acronym to help you remember the factors that play into whether a goal is intentional and within your reach. Here is what it means for a job search goal to be SMART.
Let’s look at an example to illustrate SMART job search goal setting in action. If you are looking for a job, it is tempting to make being hired for a job in X weeks the goal, and will it is the ultimate goal, whether or not you are offered a job is not something you control. It is better to set goals for factors you control. For example, you control how many jobs you apply for, how many networking contacts you make, and how much time you spend following up on job applications.
So, when it comes to a job search, I recommend that you determine what you need to do in order to achieve your ultimate goal of being hired for a new job and then set a goal for each of those actions.
Let’s use networking as an example.
So, your goal looks like this: I will make contact with and build my network by 50 new individuals over the next 30 days, discussing my job search and career goals with each. To do this, I will devote 3 hours, 5 days each week plus weekends as necessary and will conduct most meetings by phone and web conferencing to be most efficient. The strategies I will use include leveraging my existing network and setting up informational interviews with leaders in my industries of interest. I will keep track of all my activities and will evaluate my progress each Sunday evening, evaluating as necessary.
As you can see, this goal is much more intentional than “get a new job” and it has benchmarks and measurable ways to track progress. As worded, you are also already set up for success by addressing the types of strategies and tactics you will use to achieve the goal.
Those people who fail to reach job search goals, or other life goals, have generally set themselves up to fail by not being intentional about what they want to accomplish, why, how, and when. Vague goals are just dreams without any plan for attaining them.
You may set up similar goals for other major activities associated with your job search. For example, you might set up a goal to conduct research and identify 15 employers that you are interested in working for, gathering intel on each of them and mining your network for people who might have a connection to each. Or, you might set a goal to identify and apply for 5 job opportunities each week for which you are well qualified, and to do so with a customized resume and letter that you have prepared specific for the opportunity. You get the idea…
If you have lots of job search goals you want to accomplish, you might need to prioritize which you will work on at this time. While you can usually work on multiple smaller job search goals like those described above, you still need to be realistic. Don’t overload yourself, and always focus on the goals that are likely to have the biggest positive impact on your overall goal of landing a new job. In short, be SMART as well about how much you can accomplish at once.