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  1. Blog
  2. Career Development
  3. June 2, 2021

25 Professional Development Goals You Can Pursue Right Now

Next step: #winning

Planner with the word "goals" written at the top
Photo courtesy of Alexa Williams

Advancing your career takes work inside and outside of the office. That includes reaching milestones that you set for yourself to gain traction to get to your career destination.  

Professional development goals are one way to gain more experience and improve your skills in the workplace by setting long-term or short-term goals that are realistic roadmaps you can plan out for how to achieve or launch your career in five to 10 years. “Setting professional development goals encourages skill improvement that could even lead to changing careers based on your new abilities,” says certified life coach and author Chelley-Cheyenne

How to set professional development goals and measure them

A good way to set goals for your professional development is to first start with an end goal in mind. Asking yourself questions about where you see yourself in five or 10 years and what accomplishments you hope to achieve will help you narrow down what goals you should focus on. If you can’t figure out where to start, take a look at your most recent performance review or talk with your manager to see what areas you need to improve in. “Write your goals down and post them where you will see them everyday. This will keep you accountable as well as motivated to stay focused,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. “Set a realistic timeline for goals and checkpoints to ensure you are staying focused and on track. By each checkpoint, you should be closer to achieving your goal. If not, reassess your timeline and find areas that need adjusting in order to receive your desired results.”

Read more: Aspirational? Here’s Our Guide to Achieving Your Goals

Here are 25 goals you can set now to further your professional development.

1. Obtain a certification or degree

Chelley-Cheyenne says that obtaining additional certifications or even getting a degree in a different field is a goal that will pay off in the end. “If you are considering a career change, you should do a little research to learn if you will need additional certifications or degrees. You should definitely want to ensure you are more knowledgeable in your field of expertise before pursuing a new job opportunity.”

2. Revisit your career goals 

Feeling complacent at your job? Maybe it’s time to create some new career goals. “Write down some of your other passions that you may wish to pursue. Many times, our hobbies can become a great catalyst into a new career and professional direction,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. 

Read more: Choosing Your Career Path: How to Plan & Pivot Your Way to a Dream Career

3. Create a vision board 

Vision boards aren’t just for planning to buy houses, cars, and plan vacations. “Vision boards can help you stay focused and committed to your goals. When you can visually see your goals laid out, it helps maintain your motivation to achieve them.”

4. Update your resume

A good short-term goal that could have a powerful impact if you are job searching is to work on updating your resume. Chelley-Cheyenne says to find a resume template that is specific to your industry and add in your latest positions, any certifications, degrees, and new skills.“If your resume hasn’t been updated in a while, hire a professional resume writer/service who can give your resume a fresh new look before you begin your job search.”

5. Improve networking skills 

Improving your networking skills increases your chances of building a stronger professional network. Start by speaking with colleagues in other departments, meet new coworkers, and go to networking events and strike up a conversation. Networking events can help you learn more about an industry or a specific topic and skill. 

Read more: 8 Effective & Memorable Ways to Introduce Yourself Professionally (with Examples)

6. Update your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, so what better way to make your profile stand out than to add your most up to date accomplishments? If you are in the market for a new job, it’s the time to let recruiters know. 

7. Ask for feedback

“Don’t be afraid to receive feedback from your immediate supervisor or director. They have insight on what it might take to advance in your current position or overall career path and can give you some guidance,” suggests Chelley-Cheyenne. This can also help with goal-setting and helping you to create a checklist of tasks. 

Read more: The 5 Pillars of a Top-Notch Performance Review

8. Cross-train on a different job

Find out what other areas you are interested in your company and cross-train in another position, so that you can fill in if needed. Plus, it gives you something to add to your credentials if you can do multiple jobs in the company. 

9. Apply for a job or promotion

You may find an internal or external job posting may list some qualifications that you don’t possess, but don’t let that stop you. “Don’t sell yourself short, if you meet the qualifications and have the confidence to apply, go for it! Never settle for less than what you deserve,” says Chelley-Cheyenne.   

Read more: Why 60% Qualified Is Enough, According to a Recruiter

10. Read a book relevant to your professional development

Make time to read a couple of books that are in your field because it can motivate you, and it will outline a specific goal. Reading allows you to experience perspective shifting information that can make you more knowledgeable in your industry. 

Read more: 12 Self-Help Books for Women That Will Change Your Life

11. Learn how other departments function 

“Become knowledgeable of how various departments within your company operate. Get to know the employees in those areas and their roles because you just might see an interesting job opportunity present itself that might spark your interest,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. 

12. Practice workplace empathy

Practicing empathy on the job can help you connect with your coworkers. Empathy includes checking in with others and seeing how they are doing, listening, and being open to other perspectives other than your own. 

13. Learn new technology 

Technology is constantly changing and Chelley-Cheyenne says learning new technology will help boost your career. Whether it’s learning to code, a new programming language, or even a new computer program, it can be useful in your current or future position. “Depending on your career field, keeping abreast of the latest in technological advances will help you become more marketable in your job search. Companies love someone who is technologically well rounded.”

Read more: 8 Tech Courses We’re Taking to Level Up Our Skills

14. Work on stress management

Working from home during the pandemic has caused many to become even more overwhelmed with the pressures of work, plus home life. “Stress can negatively impact your performance. It’s important to identify why you are having difficulty handling stress, then find stress management techniques that will help make you a more reliable employee and a star in front of your managers,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. 

15. Detox from social media

Put down the phone and stop the boredom scrolling through social media. Perhaps limiting the amount of time you spend online will help you focus on other goals. “Researching interesting topics that can assist in your career or personal growth is recommended and encouraged. However, if you are surfing the internet and social media, you are wasting valuable time that you could use to enhance yourself. Use of a screen time monitoring app can show you just how much time you are spending on your cell phone/computer,” advises Chelley-Cheyenne. 

16. Create a website

One way to develop professionally is to create a personal website. Personal websites can be used to host your professional portfolio, resume, and personal blog. 

17. Turn your hobby into a side-hustle

Earning extra cash is always a win so if you can turn your hobby into a side gig, go for it. “COVID-19 taught us how important it was to be flexible. If you have a hobby or an area of expertise you are pretty knowledgeable, you can certainly turn this into a profitable business,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. It also allows you to flex those entrepreneurial skills that can help you in your full time job. 

18. Join a professional organization

Another way to build your network and learn about more industry-specific skills and topics, is to join a professional organization. Many organizations hold monthly events, conferences, and offer job search services including a job board to help you with your career goals. 

Read more: 7 Ways to Schmooze Your Network (the Right Way)

19. Create work-life balance 

“It is extremely important to have a work-life balance that allows you time to relax and rejuvenate your body. Committing to an exercise and self-care regime and spending time on the weekends to enjoy your hobbies is a great way to practice work-life balance for overall health and wellness,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. 

20. Improve performance metrics

Performance metrics measure behavior and activities related to overall work performance. Increasing your performance metrics can wow your supervisor and show how efficient you are. Examples include meeting deadlines, budgets, and even teamwork. Keep track of your performance metrics so you can see your improvement over the course of a year. 

Read more: How to Make the Business Case for the Work You Do

21. Clean up your online presence 

It’s happened time and time again when a social media post from over a decade ago arises, but everyone experiences growth and Chelley-Cheyenne says your online presence should reflect where you are in your life now. “If you’ve had your Facebook and other social media pages since your college years, it might be time to create more mature profiles which will help build your career or professional network. While friends and family may enjoy the photos of your partying days, your professional contacts may not and won’t be inclined to share great job opportunities or recommend you for anything.” 

22. Find new challenges to complete 

“The one way to advance in your career is to find new ways to challenge yourself. Seek opportunities to attend professional development seminars or workshops and set goals that will continue to challenge your current and newly developed skills,” advises Chelley-Cheyenne. 

23. Develop communication skills

Being able to deliver clear and concise information improves workplace communication. Set a goal to improve your written and verbal communication skills. Take a public speaking course or a writing class to help you feel more comfortable and confident.  

24. Take leadership courses

If working in management is a goal, then taking some leadership courses to improve your abilities can help. This will help you fine tune leadership soft skills and teach management skills that will look great on your resume when you put in for that promotion. 

25. Get a career or life coach  

It’s okay to ask for help when it comes to setting and reaching your professional goals. “Sometimes we become stuck and need a little guidance to help us find our way. Seeking the assistance of a life or career coach can help create new personal goals and establish successful methods that will help you achieve them,” says Chelley-Cheyenne. 

About our source

Chelley-Cheyenne has been a life coach for more than 20 years. Her professional career began in the health and fitness industry in 1996 and took a swift turn into higher education, where she has remained since 2000. She has worked for some of the most distinguished colleges and universities in the northeastern and southeastern areas of the country and has coached over 5,000 students during this time.

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Shameika Rhymes

Contributor

Shameika Rhymes is a Charlotte, North Carolina–based freelance writer who loves writing about culture, lifestyle, entertainment, and feminism. Her bylines include InHerSight, ET Online, Style BluePrint, Charlotte magazine, USA Today magazines, Shondaland, and Parade magazine. She also hosts an entertainment show Check the Rhymes TV on YouTube. She holds a bachelor's degree in mass communications from East Tennessee State University and a master's in sports commerce from the University of Memphis.

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