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How to Map Out and Talk to Your Boss About Your Career Goals

Clock7 min. read
byVexxit Staff onSeptember 07, 2021

You might not walk right into your dream job when you’re early in your career, but setting goals can put you on the path to achieving it. Here’s what you should consider when setting those goals and how to get your boss on board as you work towards them.

Let’s talk goals

When you set a goal, it gives you something to aim for. If it’s a big goal, like landing your dream job, it could mean setting several smaller goals to help you get there.

Any goal, whether big or small, should be a SMART goal. The acronym SMART has been interpreted in a few different ways, most commonly as specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. 

So what, exactly, does that mean? 

When your goal is:

  • Specific – it’s focused on a single target;

  • Measurable – there’s some way to measure your success;

  • Attainable – it’s realistic;

  • Relevant – it aligns with your values and objectives;

  • Time-bound – there’s an end date to work towards.

Let’s say your sights are set on becoming a senior marketing executive at your company. You’re going to look at the requirements of that position (more on that later) and plot several smaller goals that will give you the experience to land the job, such as:

“I’m going to lead my team in creating a marketing campaign that drives our sales up 50% this fiscal year.”

“I’m going to mentor our summer student to educate them on how we developed our marketing strategy.”

“I’m going to host a series of three webinars on marketing tactics to position our team as an industry leader.”

While these are examples of SMART goals, it’s a good idea to enlist some help to ensure you’re setting the right kind of SMART goals.

Bring in your boss

The best help you can get in setting your career goals will come from your boss, who can let you know whether your goals align with the position you’re aiming for. Often, a position will call for a specific skill set, so you want to be sure you’re working to develop the skills you need. 

Looping your boss into your goal-setting plan also lets them know you’re in it for the long haul and gives them opportunities to help you succeed. 

As with any important conversation you want to have with your boss, you should do some groundwork and give them a heads-up that you’d like to talk. This will give them (and you) time to prepare and ensure that you get the most out of your meeting. 

It could be as simple as, “I’ve been thinking about my career goals and I’m wondering if you’d have some time to talk about them?”

If your boss is on board, schedule that meeting—but be sure you’ll have a chance to gather your thoughts before your sit-down.

Tips for “the talk”

  • Research, research, research

Familiarize yourself with the opportunities available at your workplace or make a case if you feel there’s an opportunity for a new position. Get to know the pay scale at your workplace and how it compares to other companies in a similar industry and location. 

  • Review your qualifications

Larger organizations may share the qualifications for each position on an internal or external website. If yours doesn’t, you could search for the qualifications other companies require or note the qualifications of others, who hold a position you’d like to have (LinkedIn is a great resource for this). See how your qualifications stack up and which areas you could improve in.

  • Take the lead

By leading the meeting, you’ll take the pressure off your boss (after all, you asked for the meeting) and you’ll show off your leadership skills. Having an agenda, even a loose one, can help you guide the conversation and make sure you don’t miss anything. 

  • Ask questions

Just like in a job interview, asking questions shows you’re interested and invested. “What are your thoughts on the goals I’ve set?” “Which skills can I improve to achieve my goals?” “Are there any opportunities for advancement I’ve missed?” You’ll want to come up with some questions before your meeting, but don’t be afraid to ask questions as they arise, too.

  • Accept feedback

Hopefully, your boss has given you constructive feedback that will help you work towards your goals. Now’s the time to ponder that feedback and figure out how to make it work for you.

  • Follow up

Check in with your boss and consider how both of you feel about the progress you’ve made. By following up, you’ll be better able to put your feedback into action and get closer to your long-term goals.

For even more support, you can’t go wrong connecting with a human resources consultant. After all, career advice is kind of their thing. When you sign up on Vexxit, you’ll be matched with a consultant who can help you get your career to the next level—and ensure your goals will do the same.

Connect with an HR Consultant

Find the human resources consultant who can guide you on your path to career growth on Vexxit.