In business, Q4, or the final quarter of the fiscal year, is when company’s take stock over annual goals and revenue. If there are any outstanding goals, company leader ship will creQ4ate strategies to realign the team and tasks in order to achieve those goals. This may sound a bit clinical but there’s something job-seekers can learn from company’s in this regard. Career achievement, much like business and company success, requires goal setting, periodic review of progress made toward goals, and a recommitment to goal achievement.

You will not stumble into your next job or your career. Whether your primary goal is to enter a faculty position or to transition to a nonfaculty career, you must put in work, time and resources to make it there. To be an attractive candidate for a faculty position, you know that you must complete graduate coursework, gain teaching experience, publish, and have an enduring and compelling book or research project. So the same work and effort must go into being an attractive job candidate for professional positions outside the academy.

The question then is, What can I do in advancement of my career goals, and how much can I manage while keeping up with my regular responsibilities? The short answer, set SMART goals.

smart goals2
is there a clearly defined task or activity to complete?

Measurable: how will I know I’ve done enough of this? have I set a number goal (time or money spent, saved, people contacted, calls made, websites reviewed, etc)?

Achievable/attainable: this goal may stretch my a bit but it’s still achievable with a little extra effort or getting out of my comfort zone. can I put in the resources necessary to complete this task?

Results-oriented and relevant: what is the proposed result of this goal and will that result move me closer to my overall career goal?

Timebound: by what date will I complete this task?


By December 1, I will contact three alumni who work as policy analysts in Washington, DC so I can learn more about their career trajectory, what it takes to be a compelling job candidate for policy analyst positions, and other DC-based organizations that may be hiring.

Specific: there’s a clear task. Contact people.

Measurable: three alumni

Achievable: this job-seeker may have to do research to find relevant alumni and then get out of his/her comfort zone to make a call or send an email to someone they do not know personally. Still, these tasks do not require lots of time, money or other resources and can  be completed fairly easily without strain.

Results-oriented and relevant: the goal is to gain more information and contacts in DC policy analyst positions and organizations. In other words, there’s a purpose for contacting these three alumni beyond just getting over shyness and meeting a new person.

Timebound: this goal has a set date by which to complete the task. The job seeker can look at the calendar as December approaches to determine if they are making steady progress toward the goal.

What are two SMART goals you can set to achieve within this quarter that will advance your career?

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