20 Professional Development Goals Examples

Success stories don’t happen overnight. The difference between a person who is constantly advancing in their career and one who is stagnant is their ability to set and achieve professional development goals.

Think of your current employment status. Are you happy with how things are? Do you know what you’re doing? Is your career headed in the right direction? Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?

If you can’t come up with answers that excite you about the future, that might be a sign that you’re stuck professionally.

What Are Professional Development Goals & How to Set Them?

Professional development goals are realistic roadmaps that guide your career and steer you toward growth and success. These professional development goals aim to help you improve your professional skills, competence, and knowledge.

It’s meant to enhance your character and potential to make you a more appealing candidate to employers. Investing in your professional growth is important because it’ll qualify you for better job opportunities.

It’ll also allow you to stand out, make more money, explore new skills and interests, become more innovative, and be wildly successful.

To set professional development goals, always use the SMART framework to plot your way and make it easier to accomplish your aims.

  • Specific – Vague goals are much harder to accomplish than specific goals. Don’t just say you want to make more money; be clear about exactly how you will accomplish this.
  • Measurable – There needs to be a way for you to track how you’re progressing toward achieving the goals you set. How will you know when you’ve reached a goal? Come up with milestones to help measure your outcomes.
  • Attainable – Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by trying to achieve impossible things. Make sure your goals are realistic in terms of your skills, experience, and the timeframe you’ve set.
  • Relevant – Your goals should benefit your career or life in some way. If the project you’re investing effort into isn’t relevant to your career goals, consider setting it aside for something else.
  • Time-bound – Set specific start and end dates for accomplishing your goals so you don’t procrastinate too much and fail to complete them.

20 Professional Development Goals Examples

Regardless of what you do or where you are in your career, here are some examples of professional development goals you can work towards.

1. Learn a new skill

New Skills for Job Satisfaction

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. No matter how experienced you think you are, there’s probably a lot about your job role or industry that you’ve yet to learn.

Research and find out what skills will help you become better at your job. What skills does your manager or supervisor have that you don’t? Is there any skill that would adequately equip you for your desired job?

Taking the time to learn these skills would improve your value and place you ahead of your peers. You’ll have more accomplishments to include in your resume, making it easier to land better-paying jobs or kickstart your dream career.

Don’t rest on your laurels. Find out where you can learn those skills and what you need to help you gain that knowledge, then follow through.

2. Read books that are relevant to your field

Read more books for career & personal development

Reading more books is a great professional development goal that you can set. It doesn’t require you to exert much energy to accomplish it. You can kick back and absorb information wherever you are.

You can discover powerful information that shifts your perspective by reading books related to your field. You can unlock ideas you’ve never thought about that could help you perform more effectively at your job.

Reading can also improve your vocabulary, writing skills, and critical thinking while reducing stress.

Do some research to find highly recommended books about your field, then create a reading list. Plan to read one of those books a week or a month, depending on your reading speed and schedule.

3. Earn a professional certificate or degree

Earn a professional certificate or degree for career growth

Continuing your education is a great way to stay current on your profession’s information and trends. It can also help you improve your skillset, gain fresh expertise, and gain a bigger professional advantage.

Many companies provide career development opportunities for their employees to advance their education. Talk to your human resources manager to see if your employer offers such programs.

If not, you can always take online courses and earn additional degrees/certificates.

Online educational programs like Coursera, Udemy, Product School, Skillshare, and MasterClass offer various courses in various fields.

You can take them from your home and earn a recognized certification. Alternatively, you can register for postgraduate studies. Just make sure that what you’re learning can benefit your career.

4. Improve your communication skills

Communication skills improvement as one of the important professional development goals examples.

One of the most important professional development goals individuals should strive for is improving their communication skills.

Being able to receive and deliver clear information can improve not only your work efficiency but that of your colleagues as well.

Take a writing course to help you better your written communication so that it shares information in a compelling, clear, and cohesive way. If verbal communication leaves something to be desired, you can sign up for a public speaking class.

Learn how to confidently share your ideas and discuss them with others without being harsh or hurtful. The more you advance up the career ladder, the better communicator you’ll need to be. Therefore, improving one’s communication skills should be a key focus area for anyone looking to succeed in their career goals.

5. Take up more leadership responsibilities at work

Leadership skills for career advancement

Assuming more managerial responsibilities at work will help you get noticed and provide a stepping stone into official leadership roles when the opportunity presents itself.

Talk to your current manager to find out what areas you can improve and which additional responsibilities you can take on to prove your leadership skills.

You can always take leadership training online if they don’t offer concrete steps to achieve this goal. Do tasks at work that no one else is willing to do.

Step up and take charge when you see a vacuum that needs to be filled. This will help boost your skills, give you much-needed recognition, and prepare you for the position of manager ahead of time.

Related15 Most Common Leadership Styles

6. Learn how to manage stress

Stress management helps achieve success

Successful people don’t have a stress-free life. They know how to manage stressful situations and get the job done effectively.

If you let yourself get overcome by stress at work or in your personal life, it could hurt your productivity. The quality of your work can also suffer as a result.

To learn how to manage stress, the first thing to do is determine your exact problems when dealing with stress. Once you know what they are, you can work on finding the right options for resolving them.

Try out a few stress management techniques until you find one that best suits you. Knowing how to cope with stress can improve your life remarkably, improve your emotional intelligence, and make you a more dependable employee.

7. Switch to a different career path or change jobs

Change career path or jobs for career opportunties

Another great professional goal example you can adopt is changing jobs or your career. If you’re bored with your current position and don’t see any opportunities for growth at the company, consider quitting and going to work elsewhere.

Switching jobs is a good way to increase your income and career satisfaction. Look for a challenging and exciting role in a different company and sow your oats there.

Start applying for new roles before you quit your current job. Or make sure you have enough money to live off of for at least three months if you resign before getting a new offer.

Alternatively, you can completely abandon your current career path and pursue a different one. Sure, it’s going to be scary and confusing to start afresh. But if you keep your eye on the goal, you’ll climb the ladder quickly.

8. Build a strong professional network for career advancement

Build networking skills as part of your professional development plan

Improving your networking skills is one of the most important examples of professional development goals you can set.

It is a crucial part of career development. The right opportunity that could change your life can come from knowing the right people.

Set a goal to meet and connect with other industry professionals online and in person. Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry or profession.

Attend networking events, join local career-oriented groups, or just hit up someone in your field that you respect and build a mutually beneficial relationship with them. A stronger professional network can help raise your career profile and boost your reputation.

It can also expose you to people who can offer support, ideas, recommendations, and advice to help you navigate and transform your career.

Related: 10 Best LinkedIn Alternatives For Professional Networking

9. Learn new technologies

Learning new programming languages for developing technical skills & career advancement

Is there a new programming language or software related to your niche that can boost productivity or efficiency? Make it your professional goal to learn it. This will make you a more valuable asset.

You can even communicate this knowledge and the importance of it with the rest of your team at work and turn it into a group goal.

Knowing how to use different kinds of video creation software, project management tools, programming languages, and more can help further your career.

It’ll establish you as a tech-savvy person willing to embrace new processes. Additionally, the additional technical skill can better position you for promotions, raises, and dream job offers.

10. Get better at managing your time

Time management for professional development

Improving your time management skills is another example of a professional development goal you can work towards. It will help you get more done with your time, so you’ll have more accomplishments to show off at the end of the day.

Effective time management skills will also enable you to dedicate more time to enjoyable non-work activities. You can accomplish this goal by creating a daily to-do list or schedule with an allotted time frame for completing each task.

Also, you can track how much time you spend on specific activities and identify areas where you can speed up processes. You might need to cut down on some time-sucking activities you currently engage in, like watching Netflix during work hours.

11. Work on your weaknesses

Work on your weaknesses for professional goals advancement

Think about the aspects of your character that would serve you better if improved. You can make it a goal to transform those weaknesses into strengths and create a strategy for achieving them.

Understand where that weakness is coming from and devise concrete steps to address it. For example, if you’re not great at time management, you can implement techniques to track and better utilize your time.

It’s okay if you’re not an expert at every part of your job. There will be things that someone else is better at than you. But you don’t have to throw your hands up in defeat.

You need to improve or at least gain basic competence to get your work done effectively.

Also ReadStudents’ Strengths & Weaknesses Examples

12. Research how other departments function

Research how other departments function for career development

Understanding how other departments work is another example of setting professional development goals. It can help you figure out how to do more for the organization.

When you know how your position impacts the various departments and contributes to the overall workings of the company, you’ll learn exactly how valuable you are.

You’ll be better positioned to transition from one role to another. In the process, you can even form new relationships that will serve you well when transferring to a new department.

Also, you can easily identify system gaps, improve cross-departmental collaboration, and suggest work process modifications to help a company division run seamlessly.

So, how do you accomplish a professional goal such as this?

It’s easier than you think. You can start by asking for a tour of a different department, buying lunch for a member or another team in exchange for picking their brain or attending a team meeting for another division to see what they’re up to.

13. Find new challenges

Finding new challenges for professional development

This is a short-term goal that can work wonders for your professional development. It’s specific, measurable, achievable, and related to your career. You can also complete them within a designated time frame to show that you’re a self-starter who can follow through.

Look for challenges you can handle in your role and take them on. Or come up with new ideas on how to tackle old problems.

For example, you can update old documentation like an employee handbook that hasn’t been reviewed in years. Propose and develop a mock-up for a new product. Or even discover and target a hidden market segment.

Finding and solving challenges at work will keep your job exciting and fulfilling. Still, it’ll also signal initiative and leadership abilities to your employer, which could put you on the fast track for future promotions.

14. Increase your performance metrics

Increase your performance metrics

Your performance metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) are the data used to measure your success at work. Increasing these metrics will put you in a good light at work and prove you’re efficient.

It’ll also make it easier to show how you have improved certain aspects of the organization that would contribute towards achieving long-term goals like securing a raise and earning a promotion or proving your experience in a job interview.

The performance metrics that you track will typically depend on your job role and responsibilities. Some examples include increasing customer satisfaction, generating more qualified leads, or helping the company reduce overall costs.

It could also be delivering projects within set deadlines, raising brand awareness, and multiplying followers on your company’s social media accounts. Whatever it is, ensure you perform better than the previous year.

15. Develop a healthy work-life balance

Healthy Work Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy balance between life and work is key to a more productive and happier lifestyle. It can greatly improve your general well-being, prevent burnout, and even boost your creativity at work.

If you spend too much time working and barely enough time relaxing or hanging out with friends and family, it’s time to find ways to balance your home life with your work.

You can do this by sticking to your fixed work schedule and shutting down your computer immediately after the official work day. Insist on not taking work home.

Avoid checking work emails during off-hours. Push leftover work to the next workday rather than using chunks of your time to complete projects.

16. Become a thought leader

Become thought leader as one of the professional goals

If you possess a strong knowledge of a sector or industry, you can aim to become a thought leader. This can be one of your professional development goals to establish yourself as a subject matter expert.

This will set you up as an authority in your field and help you establish your personal brand. From there, you can work on building a large network and promoting yourself on various social media platforms.

You may take a while to achieve the level of influence you aspire to. But once you’ve become the go-to thought leader on a subject, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to advance your career.

You won’t have to hunt for jobs. Offers will come to you.

17. Get better at public speaking and presentations

Presentation skills - one of the examples of career development goals

Being a part of today’s workforce, especially in white-collar positions, means participating in hundreds of meetings & attending professional events. And in those meetings, there’ll come times when you’re required to speak or give a presentation.

Improving your presentation skills can help make this endeavor a breeze. It can also earn you a reputation as a great speaker who grabs people’s attention and gets them to buy into a message.

I don’t need to tell you that the world loves charismatic, captivating speakers. Accomplishing this professional development goal can open up new career opportunities for you.

Look into the different presentation techniques and pick the right one for every occasion. Build a story around your message, and don’t forget to consider the design and layout of your presentation slides.

18. Build a personal website or portfolio

Personal Portfolio website

Creating a website to house your personal and professional accomplishments is one of the best ways to strengthen your online presence.

When potential clients, employers, or recruiters want to learn more about you, they’ll probably search for your name on Google. Make sure that they find an accurate representation of your professional brand in the form of a portfolio or website.

You can use free or paid portfolio templates to build your website to showcase your skills and the cool projects you’ve worked on. It can also house your resume, portfolio, blog, or personal mission statement.

19. Get a raise/promotion

Getting a raise or promotion as a career goal

Another professional development goal example that can positively impact your life and career is getting a promotion or raise. Depending on your aspirations and career trajectory, it can function as a long-term or short-term goal.

The first step towards reaching this goal is evaluating your qualifications and figuring out what you want your next role to be. If you have enough skills and experience to meet the requirements, landing the promotion won’t take long.

However, it might take longer to complete this goal if you need to pick up additional experience, skills, or education.

When you feel you deserve a raise or promotion, put together your performance metrics. Create a list of all the tasks you’ve completed and how they improved the business, then take it all to the person in charge.

20. Start your own business

Start your own business

If you’re interested in forging your path and creating something from the ground up, you should consider launching your own business. But before you take that jump, ensure you have the grit to handle entrepreneurship and its ups and downs.

Also, you must research the market and industry you want to break into.

Running a successful business is a long-term commitment to ensure you’re physically and financially ready to embark on that journey.

Related: 25 Profitable Business Ideas For Ladies Sitting At Home

20 Professional Development Goals Examples – Conclusion

As you can see, setting professional development goals doesn’t have to be something extraordinary.

They must reflect your desires, priorities, and ambitions so you’ll be passionate about working towards them.

Setting clear professional development goals will provide clarity, vision, and a way to measure your career progress effectively. But that’s only half the battle. You need to keep motivating yourself and staying on track.

Images are taken from Pixabay, Shutterstock.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.