Skip to Main Content

Career Goal Setting

Goal Setting: Necessary before the Job Search

Finding an answer to the question "What do I really want in a career?" is one of the hardest parts of making a successful transition from college to career. Most college seniors are uninformed about career possibilities and because the topic is usually complex and anxiety-provoking, it is left unaddressed.

Research is Key

As you interview with employers, all your communication, both written and verbal, needs to focus first on understanding, then clearly articulating, how your qualities can benefit the employer. As you get more involved in your job search, your goals will become refined because "career knowledge" increases.

Even if you've always known your general career path, you now will need to get "employer and job specific" to make maximum impact during your job search.

One stumbling block is trying to draw too close a connection between your major and future jobs. Computer science majors may work as systems designers, but so do many math, chemistry and liberal arts majors. There are a number of factors beyond the college major that determine your first job.

Job Functions and Other Considerations

One of the most confusing aspects of understanding employers as part of goal setting is determining the relationship between job title, job function, work environment and industry. People often mistakenly use these terms interchangeably.

Job title refers to the actual position name used by the employing organization to label a specific job, i.e., systems engineer, tax accountant, manufacturing trainee.

Job functions describe the activities or tasks the person in the job does on a day-to-day basis. For example, a tax accountant prepares financial records, balances company ledgers and examines cost accounting procedures at client companies.

Work environment refers to the type of organization where the work takes place. In the example being used, a tax accountant could perform the previous functions in a large public accounting firm, a small privately owned agency, a large or small company, a multi-department organization or a small growing firm.

Industry is a term describing a series of related products or services that make up a portion of the overall economy. Different industries include electronics, financial services, petroleum and manufacturing. It is important to understand that a person can often perform the same work, have the same job title and the same work environment in different industries.

Formulating a Career Goal

Putting all the pieces of a first job or career goal together generally requires assistance. Don't hesitate to seek assistance from the staff of the Career & Co-op Center.