At one point in your life, you’re going to have a job interview where someone asks you about your plans for the future.
WHAT ARE THEY REALLY ASKING?
When someone’s asking about your goals, what they’re really trying to figure out are two main things:
First, your motivations for applying for the job you’re currently interviewing for.
And second, your ability to plan for the future — or just how forward-thinking you are in general.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you start trying to answer this question:
If you have very specific goals, impress the hiring manager by describing them in as concrete terms as you can. Talk about how long you plan to spend in each position and your specific plans for moving on up to each next level.
Privilege the narrative you’re selling as much as possible. The best long term goals are basically stories that you hope to make come true through careful planning and hard work.
Wherever possible, also try to focus on the value you’ll be adding to the company. It’s important to mention what you’ll be getting out of the deal, but ultimately, the hiring manager is going to be considering you based on the value they think you can bring to their company.
If you’re not sure about precisely what you’re looking for out of your career, try talking about the kind of company you’d like to work for. It helps to do your homework on the company you’re applying to in the first place so you can make sure that the company you’re describing applies to them, but if you do your homework, you shouldn’t need to lie here.
How often have you sat down to establish a list of career goals only to find out later that they were about as (un)realistic as your New Year’s resolutions? You wanted to have a six-figure salary by the fifth year into your career. You wanted a corner office. Maybe you even thought it would be possible to increase sales by 20 percent without taking a good look at the economy during that period
A Complete Guide to Goal Setting
Most goals define positive outcomes that you want your business to achieve, but sometimes you also want to set goals to avoid pitfalls and to eliminate a few weaknesses. To help develop goals that cover all the bases, use the acronym ACES as you tick through the following key questions:
Achieve: What do you want to attain in the future?
Conserve: What do you want to hang on to?
Eliminate: What do you want to get rid of?
Steer clear: What do you want to avoid?
Select the five goals that you think are absolute, positively essential to your business success. After you decide on your list, fine-tune each goal, using these guidelines:
Keep each goal clear and simple.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself and think big.
Make sure that your goals are in sync with your mission.
What is your primary career goal?
Well-chosen goals and objectives point a new business in the right direction and keep an established company on the right track. Just think about what football would be without end zones or what the Indianapolis 500 would be without a finish line.
To help you better understand how you can set goals and objectives, you first need a good foundation for what the two are.
Goals establish where you intend to go and tell you when you get there. They help improve your overall effectiveness as a company — whether you want to increase your share of the market, for example, or improve your customer service. The more carefully you define your goals, the more likely you are to do the right things and achieve what you wanted to accomplish in the first place.
Objectives are the specific steps you and your company need to take in order to reach each of your goals. They specify what you must do — and when.
Think of goals and objectives this way:
Goals tell you where you want to go; objectives tell you exactly how to get there.
Goals can increase your effectiveness; objectives back your goals and make you more efficient.
Goals are typically described in words; objectives often come with numbers and specific dates.
Suppose that your goal is to double the number of people using your web-conferencing service. Your objectives may be as follows:
Gain awareness by placing print ads in four regional markets and by airing radio ads in two major markets (by June 10)
Attract first-time customers by offering an online giveaway of $1,000 (by June 1)
Cultivate prospects by implementing a permission-based weekly e-mail to 2,500 targeted contacts (by July 10)
Convert 10 percent of prospects to clients, using e-mail reminders (beginning July 25)
Together, goals and objectives form the road map for your company’s future. Without them, you risk making wrong turns and wasting precious energy.