Thursday, June 3, 2010

Set Your Professional Goals

As you’re finishing up your education and looking forward to your career ahead, do you feel some uneasiness along with your excitement? It’s common to wonder how it will all work out and to question how you’ll get started in your career. One very important part of beginning a career—and a part that is often overlooked—is setting professional goals for yourself. Goals give you a specific direction and help you focus on getting exactly where you want to go in your career. If you’ve been a goal-setter in the past, then you know how helpful goals can be; if you’ve never set goals before, now is the time to start.

Certification Magazine’s Dave Willmer gave some great tips on setting professional goals. The whole article is definitely worth the read, but this point is particularly useful as you begin setting goals. Willmer writes:
It’s good to always have at least two goals at a time: one short-term goal and one long-term objective. Your short-term goal should be reachable within a few months. You may decide to earn a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) credential within six months. With your long-term goal, you should look forward several years—to eventually become a network manager, for instance.

Ideally, the two objectives should be complementary—in this case, the CCNP certification would help prepare you for the manager position.

Dawn Rosenberg McKay suggested in a career planning article that “there must be an action tied to each goal.” As you set goals that you can achieve in 3 months or 3 years, make a plan of the actions you’ll take to achieve those goals.

As you set your professional goals, make certifications a priority. Certifications help demonstrate your competence in your field, and they show employers that you took the extra steps to set yourself apart from other candidates.

Best of luck in reaching your professional goals!

Emily Howard, TestOut

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